Salt Spring Island is the largest of the southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Canada. It lies in the Strait of Georgia in between the mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island.
Salt Spring Island is the absolute perfect place to spend a weekend if you are looking to relax, get close to the natural world, and step back in time to when life seemed a bit simpler. Towering pine trees, salty fresh air, and craggy coastlines will have you breathing easily all weekend long. Local organic produce and the thriving art scene will add another layer of magic to this island getaway.
Getting To Salt Spring Island
There are three towns with ferry terminals on Salt Spring Island: Fulford Harbour, Vesuvius, and Long Harbour. It is important to plan where you are sailing from and where you will arrive.
Pro Tip: To plan your perfect weekend on Salt Spring Island, check out the BCFerries schedule. It is highly recommended to make a ferry reservation online, especially during the summer months. Also, be sure to arrive at the ferry terminal well in advance of the scheduled crossing.
From Vancouver’s Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal
There is no direct ferry from Tsawwassen to Salt Spring Island. Travel first to Victoria’s Swartz Bay Terminal and then transfer ferries to arrive at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island. This journey will take about two hours and 30 minutes.
From Victoria’s Swartz Bay Terminal
The ferry arrives at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island. The crossing is 35 minutes and runs regularly.
From Crofton On Vancouver Island
Ferries run between Crofton and Vesuvius (on the north end of Salt Spring Island). The crossing takes 25 minutes.
From Smaller Gulf Islands
Ferries travel from Pender, Galiano, and Mayne islands arriving at Long Harbour on Salt Spring Island.
Pro Tip: Having a car on Salt Spring Island is the ideal way to enjoy your weekend. With a car, you can enjoy the entire island in a weekend. It takes about 45 minutes to drive from one end of Salt Spring Island to the other. The hilly roads are mostly paved.
Stroll Through Ganges
Plan on spending at least a few hours wandering Ganges, the main town on Salt Spring Island. It is the perfect place to browse through unique art galleries and boutiques, to book a whale watching or kayaking tour, and to stock up on groceries and other necessities. Watching the boats in the harbor is a relaxing way to sink into this perfect weekend getaway.
Explore Ruckle Provincial Park
The shoreline of Ruckle Provincial Park invites you to be present and soak up the incredible natural beauty of this island. Sit on a craggy outcrop and watch the sailboats and ferries pass by on Swanson Channel. Explore tide pools looking for starfish, crabs, and other delights of the sea world. You might have a little luck and spot sea lions and whales. You just never know!
Bring a picnic or pitch a tent on one of the walk-in campsites.
When you first enter the park, you pass by old farmhouses, outbuildings, sheep, and chickens. The park is a preserved British Columbia homestead that was first settled by Henry Ruckle, an Irish immigrant, in 1872. The farmland is still in use by descendants of his family.
Indulge In Tasty Delights At Salt Spring Island Cheese Company
The goal of the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company says it all: “to make the best tasting and looking cheese you will find from one of the most beautiful islands in the world.”
This family-run business creates stunning goat cheeses with exquisite flavors ranging from chilli to tapenade to truffle. Stop into their farm shop and taste the various goat cheeses. Chutneys and crackers are available to purchase in addition to the incredible cheese.
Visit during the summer season and have a meal at the cafe. Be sure to indulge in the outstanding gelato made with the same goat milk as is used in the cheese.
Go Whale Watching
On this perfect weekend on Salt Spring Island, it is a must to get out on the water. Looking for whales and other marine wildlife is always an exciting way to spend part of a day. Salt Spring Adventure Co. Ltd. hosts whale watching and marine wildlife sightseeing tours with morning and afternoon departures from Ganges Harbour between March and October with daily whale sightings expected between June and September.
Kayak The Ocean Waters Of Salt Spring Island
Kayaking is another way to enhance your experience on the waters of Salt Spring Island. Salt Spring Adventure Co. Ltd. offers a variety of tours that leave from Ganges Harbour and are sure to please outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels, even those who have never paddled before.
Take A Refreshing Dip In A Freshwater Lake
Salt Spring Island is, of course, surrounded by salty water, but it is a delightful summer treat to take a dip in one the five freshwater lakes on the island. Take your pick from St. Mary Lake, Cusheon Lake, Blackburn Lake, Stowell Lake, and Weston Lake. There are public-access points at all the lakes.
Find Unique Gifts At The Ganges Saturday Market
They don’t call Salt Spring Island Canada’s Island of the Arts for nothing! The Saturday market in Ganges (April through October from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) is bursting with local artisans and food producers. Everything sold at the market is created and produced locally and, as Salt Spring Island is a hotbed for creatives, you will love perusing the stands of potters, jewelers, woodworkers, and a myriad of other artists.
You’ll be sure to find some unique gifts here and some delicious goodies for a weekend picnic.
Where To Eat And Drink
Salt Spring Wild Cider
Salt Spring Wild’s ciders are created with 100 percent local, organic ingredients. Did someone say elderberry elderflower cider or bitter orange rosemary cider? My favorite is the semi-dry cider made from handpicked Salt Spring apples.
Drop by the farm, take a tour, or head straight to the tasting room to sample a variety of ciders along with farm-style tapas. If you’re a cider lover, you won’t walk away empty-handed!
Let’s just say that Salt Spring Island is the perfect place to indulge in seafood delights. Take your pick from fresh halibut, mussels, or Dungeness crab, and your taste buds will be singing! Ganges is where you will find the most restaurants to choose from.
Rock Salt Restaurant And Cafe
If you arrive in Fulford Harbour, stop by the Rock Salt Restaurant and Cafe for a coffee and snack or a meal. Their dining room has a 180-degree ocean view, but my preference is to sit at a table on the terrace overlooking the boats and breathe in the fresh salty air. Alternately, as you leave Salt Spring Island and line up for the ferry, pop into the Rock Salt Restaurant and Cafe and pick up some snacks to eat on the ferry.
Stowel Lake Farm’s Organic Farm Stand
When I visited this delightful farm stand on Reynolds Road (very close to the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company), the entire experience was based on the honor system. The roadside gate to the farm stand swung open, we gathered delicious produce, weighed it, and left our money on the counter. Can you step back in time with more authenticity than that?
Salt Spring Mercantile
If you are looking for picnic items or wanting to stock up for your Airbnb, look no further than the Salt Spring Mercantile in Fulford Harbour. It is an old-style general store full of groceries and local, homemade delights.
Where To Stay On Salt Spring Island
My first tip is to book early. Salt Spring Island is a popular destination, especially in the summer season. Salt Spring Island has a wide variety of accommodation including cabins, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, and hotels. Perhaps you prefer an ocean view or a little cabin in an old-growth forest. Whatever your preference, you should be able to find a little piece of paradise to make this weekend absolutely perfect!
Pro Tip: Salt Spring Island is a blackberry lover’s treasure trove in August. Bring your gloves (the bushes are rather prickly) and overfill your pail with juicy fresh berries.
Enjoy your perfect weekend on Salt Spring Island; you are sure to leave feeling rejuvenated.
Coming from or going to Vancouver? Be sure to see these 11 amazing hidden gems in Vancouver, Canada, before or after your Salt Spring Island weekend.