Salt Spring Island is a Pacific Northwest hidden treasure that is great for a quiet escape. It is near enough to Vancouver for a weekend getaway, yet there is plenty to do on Salt Spring Island to keep you occupied for a week. The island retains a strong sense of community and seems undisturbed by today’s frantic culture. If you are considering a journey to Vancouver, a stopover on Salt Spring Island will undoubtedly give some rest and leisure.
Salt Spring Island is located between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia in the Salish Sea. It is the most populated and well-known of the Southern Gulf Islands. It is the biggest of the Gulf Islands, covering 74 square miles, although you can drive from one end to the other in less than an hour.
The salt springs at the island’s north end gave rise to the island’s name. They are still in use and may be seen at the Salt Spring Spa Resort. Another interesting historical fact is that Salt Spring Island is home to BC’s oldest continually operating school. The Little Red School House, which was erected in 1885, now houses a pre-school.
With the exception of a Home Hardware and Fields, Salt Spring Island is almost entirely comprised of locally-owned shops and eateries. If you’re searching for a Starbucks, you won’t find one here. This is a place to support small businesses in your community.
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- 1 13 Top Things to Do on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
- 1.1 How to Travel to Salt Spring Island
- 1.2 Embe Bakery offers delicious treats.
- 1.3 Saturday Market: Buy Local Products
- 1.4 Dining with Marina Views
- 1.5 Visit a Winery or Three
- 1.6 Have pleasure in Apples and Ales.
- 1.7 Shine Distillery provides moonshine.
- 1.8 Visit Art Studios Around the Island
- 1.9 Bathe in the forest at one of the island’s many parks.
- 1.10 Salt Spring Island Goat Cheese Sample
- 1.11 Have a cup of coffee at the Tree House Café.
- 1.12 Take an Adventure Tour.
- 1.13 Buy Local Products from a Roadside Stand
- 2 Conclusion
13 Top Things to Do on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
How to Travel to Salt Spring Island
The journey to Salt Spring Island is where the adventure starts. You have two alternatives; you may either take a ferry or a float aircraft. Whichever route you choose, your vacation will undoubtedly begin with a magnificent view. The Pacific Northwest’s gulf islands are an extraordinarily lovely place. You could even see an Orca swimming beside the ship if you’re fortunate.
Driving your car on the ferry is advised for first-time visitors or those spending longer than a weekend. This gives you the freedom to explore the island at your own pace. If you don’t want to fly or walk on the boat, there is a bus and a taxi service on the island. There are also a few tour companies that provide a range of guided tours.
There are three ferry ports on the island for visitors coming by ferry: Long Harbour near Ganges, Fulford Harbour, and Vesuvius. Arrange your trip ahead of time using the BC Ferries website. Whichever route you choose, make a reservation with BC Ferries to ensure your space on the ship. You don’t want to start your trip by sitting at the port after missing a ferry.
Embe Bakery offers delicious treats.
A visit to Embe Bakery would not be complete without a visit to Salt Spring Island. This neighborhood gem has been serving savory pies, delectable sweet desserts, and freshly baked bread since 1978. Make this your first trip in the morning to avoid getting disappointed later in the day by empty shelves. This bakery’s goodies are a popular commodity, and they barely survive the day. Before you leave, go through the freezer department for pies that beg to be carried home and prepared later.
Saturday Market: Buy Local Products
If you visit Salt Spring Island between the months of April and October, you should certainly check out the Saturday Market in Ganges. During the summer, the park is in full action, with vendor tents wrapping all the way around.
The Saturday Market sellers are all locals. On Salt Spring, you may manufacture it, bake it, or cultivate it. This must be followed by all vendors. This requirement is the market’s essence. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind memento or handcrafted present, this is the place to go. Anything from jewelry to homemade soaps to craft jams may be found here.
Dining with Marina Views
There are several excellent restaurants on the Island, but if you want to dine with a view of the ocean, keep reading. Mobys Tavern, a local favorite, boasts stunning views of the Ganges Marina. Their views are so spectacular that the Salt Spring Exchange installed a live camera directly on their terrace! You can see the float aircraft land while sitting on Moby’s terrace. Live music is often featured on late evenings at Mobys. There’s always something going on at Mobys Pub, whether it’s lunch, supper, late-night, or any time in between.
If you’re looking for fresh oysters and seafood, Oystercatcher is the place to go. They are known as the Islands’ preferred beachfront restaurant, serving sustainable and ethical food. They proudly purchase from other like-minded, local farmers what they do not cultivate or raise ethically on their own island farm. You may be certain that the food provided here is fresh and excellent.
Visit a Winery or Three
Salt Spring Island now has three wineries: Salt Spring Island Vineyards, Gary Oaks Winery, and Kutats Wines. The first two are easily positioned adjacent to each other, while the third is just a short trip up the island. You could easily try wine at all three establishments in one afternoon.
Salt Spring Island is located in Canada’s hottest growing area. As a result, the island vineyards are well-known for their fragrant west coast aromas and fruity flavors. All three wineries provide samples, but Salt Spring Vineyards offers a wine and cheese sampling overlooking the duck pond.
Have pleasure in Apples and Ales.
Salt Spring Island, believe it or not, was once the biggest apple grower in British Columbia. On the island, there are over 450 distinct apple varieties, and many of the apple trees are over a century old. Pluck one fresh off the tree for a refreshing snack, or pair it with a glass of homemade apple cider. Salt Spring Wild Cider is more than simply a booming company; they bring the community together by gathering over 250,000 pounds of apples from farms all across the island.
They assist farmers and families in managing their apple crops by compensating them for extra apples. They collect them, press them, and ferment them into cider, producing a basic, honest product from one of the island’s abundant crops.
Beer is another artisan beverage that may be found and sampled on the island. Salt Spring Island Brewery is the new name for Salt Spring Island Ales, which was formerly known as Salt Spring Island Ales. They say that they have a beer to suit every taste. This small brewery makes use of hops cultivated on the island.
You may have noticed a pattern when it comes to Salt Spring Island residents. Almost everything you eat and drink on the island will be cultivated, collected, or created locally. Our next stop is no different.
Shine Distillery provides moonshine.
Shine Distillery, which launched in 2016, is the newest addition to the island’s specialty beverage culture. This tiny, family-owned artisanal distillery makes small-batch spirits from 100% British Columbia honey. Swing by for a taste of their honey-based Honeycomb Moonshine, Hive Vodka, or Sting Gin.
Shine Distillery was founded by former restaurant owners and chefs who adapted their love for cuisine to their spirits. They also sell cordials and cocktail mixes to go with their spirits. On-site samples are free, but keep an eye out for their Honeycomb Moonshine. It has a high alcohol content of 65%.
Visit Art Studios Around the Island
It is immediately clear that there is a flourishing art culture on Salt Spring Island. A self-guided studio tour is a long-standing tradition. There are 21 studios in all, and you may often see the painters at work. Some studios provide a one-of-a-kind experience, such as a workshop tour or a hands-on explanation of how to create a piece of art.
If you want to plan ahead, get the studio tour map, which details each studio and its location, allowing you to organize your trip ahead of time. These maps are available for download both online and on the ship. Don’t worry if you don’t have a map; enormous black signs indicating each studio’s location may be found all across the island. When you notice one, just stop by to see what the artist is up to.
Bathe in the forest at one of the island’s many parks.
Seven parks on Salt Spring Island provide limitless hiking paths and picnic spaces. Ruckle Provincial Park includes the historic Ruckle Farm, British Columbia’s longest continuously functioning farm. Ruckle Park also features the biggest provincial campsite on the Gulf Islands, as well as a route that leads to a quiet beach.
Mount Erskine is famed for its hiking routes, while Mount Maxwell has the greatest views. Its vantage point provides expansive vistas as well as the greatest dawn and sunsets on the island. Visitors searching for something more than hiking might check out Mouat Regional Park’s Disc Golf facility.
If you’re coming during the summer, you may want to take a swim in one of the island’s eight freshwater lakes. Five of them have public beaches, and several of them are ideal for fishing.
Salt Spring Island Goat Cheese Sample
Salt Spring Island Cheese Company is a family-run business that produces handmade goat cheese. A visit to their farm enables you to meet the goats and witness the cheese being produced via the manufacturing facility’s viewing windows. This is a year-round attraction that the whole family will enjoy.
To say that their cheese is a labor of love is an understatement. Back in 1996, it took six years of trial and error before they sold their first cheese. Its components are straightforward: 100% pure goat milk, sea salt, dairy culture, and rennet. They also have cheese with amazing toppings like truffles, olive tapenade, garlic, and more.
Have a cup of coffee at the Tree House Café.
One of the most interesting cafés you’ll ever see is situated in the center of Ganges. The Tree House Café gets its name from a massive plum tree that grows in the center of its patio. Throughout the winter, they build walls around it, so that the tree is actually in the center of the restaurant. They are open all year and are dedicated about offering tasty, wholesome meals created from scratch.
The historic cottage was constructed in the 1920s and has a colorful past. It was the island’s first power generating facility before being converted into a restaurant. It has also served as a smoking establishment, a crystal store, and a music school.
Take an Adventure Tour.
There is an outdoor experience waiting for you no matter what time of year you come. Salt Spring Island has it all: bioluminescent kayak cruises, equestrian riding, whale viewing, and so much more. Being a Pacific Northwest island, excitement awaits around every turn.
The activities offered will depend on the season you choose to visit. Whale viewing season runs from June to September, and you are nearly certain to spot whales. From April through October, kayaking, bicycle, and scooter rentals are offered.
Buy Local Products from a Roadside Stand
Roadside stands, reminiscent of a bygone age, are still very much alive and well on Salt Spring Island. Almost every route on the island will have stalls selling anything from eggs to coffee to pork chops. Nobody works the stands; they operate on the honor system. Just pull over, grab what you like, and put your money in the tin can. Trust and honesty are expected.
Some of these roadside kiosks are fairly technologically advanced. The bigger ones contain refrigerators, while some provide email addresses for money transfers if you’re running low on cash. If only for the memories and a tale to tell pals back home, make sure to pick up an item or two. And take a picture in case no one believes you that the honor system is still in place in 2021.
Spending time on Salt Spring Island may help you regain your serenity and your trust in mankind. From friendly hikers greeting you on the route to farm stalls that operate on the honor system, this is a location unlike any other. Salt Spring Island is precisely what the doctor prescribed for a pleasant vacation with slower-paced days.
Nothing like spending a Saturday evening cuddled up in front of a genuine wood fireplace in a warm cottage to transport you back to a simpler period. Combine this roaring fire with a bottle of local wine and cheese for the ideal vacation evening.