Salt Spring Island. An adorable little isle lying off the coast of BC (between Vancouver and Vancouver Island), Salt Spring Island boasts a well-earned artsy and bohemian reputation. From its flourishing art scene, organic farms, and lush old-growth forests, there are truly so many things to do in Salt Spring Island.
Whether you love art, nature, or food, Salt Spring Island has it all. With tons of local, organic food options, great hiking trails and ocean activities, and incredible art shops and a local market, you won’t be bored on Salt Spring Island, regardless of its relatively small size!
Moreover, Salt Spring Island holds a special place in my heart; it is where I made the decision to start this travel blog!
So, if you’re planning to visit the free-spirited Salt Spring Island on a weekend getaway from Vancouver, then continue reading: these are the 11 best things to do on Salt Spring Island.
11 Fabulous Things to Do in Salt Spring Island
Peruse the Saturday Market
First, one of the best things to do in Salt Spring Island is to visit the Salt Spring Saturday Market. Located in the main town of Ganges and open from April to October, visiting the Salt Spring Island Saturday Market is an absolute must, as it features home-made and home-grown products from over 140 local vendors!
I utterly adored wandering around the Saturday Market and picking up some unique souvenirs, and I’m sure you will too. It is the best place in Salt Spring Island to find delightful artisan goods and mouthwatering food, from unique ceramics, adorable gemstone jewelry, herbal skin and bath products, and delicious pastries.
To learn more, check out the Salt Spring Island Market website.
And, if you’re visiting Salt Spring Island on a Tuesday, I also recommend visiting the Salt Spring Tuesday Market, open from June to October. Filled with local produce and delicious meals, it is the perfect alternative to visiting a grocery store!
Explore Ruckle Provincial Park
Next, if you’re looking for a multi-purpose park filled with great hiking trails meandering through vast forests and along the coast, delightful farmland filled with roaming sheep, turkeys, and chicken, and charming coves filled with diverse marine life, I recommend visiting Ruckle Provincial Park.
With 15 kilometers (or 9.3 miles) of easy hiking trails and perfect picnic spots overlooking the Swanson Channel, Ruckle Provincial Park is one of the best places to visit on Salt Spring Island. It also offers some of the best Salt Spring Island beaches!
And if you’re planning on camping on Salt Spring Island, Ruckle Provincial Park is one of the best places to go, with 78 walk-in campsites.
For those wishing to explore the Pacific Ocean rather than the hikes on Salt Spring Island, I recommend going kayaking.
One of my favorite memories from Salt Spring Island was kayaking off the coast with my dog chilling by my side. While we both got absolutely soaked, there is no better way to experience the beauty of British Columbia!
I mean, there are so many reasons why kayaking is one of the best things to do in Salt Spring Island; not only does it provide breathtaking ocean and shoreline views, but it is also the best way to spot some marine wildlife, from harbor seals to otters!
Fortunately, there are many Salt Spring Island kayaking companies that provide both kayak rentals (if you’re experienced and confident in your kayaking abilities) and guided tours. Furthermore, there are many tours available, from short and easy paddles around Ganges Harbor to long, multi-day expeditions; there are options for everyone!
Admire the Views from Mount Maxwell Provincial Park
For some more Salt Spring Island hikes (that provide spectacular panoramic views from one of the highest points on the entire island), check out Mount Maxwell Provincial Park.
While the drive can be a bit rough, the hike to Baynes Peak is incredible, albeit a bit challenging. Providing stunning views of the mainland of BC, Vancouver Island, the surrounding Gulf Islands, Fulford Valley, and Burgoyne Bay, Baynes Peak is one of the best hikes on Salt Spring Island.
With an elevation change of 600 meters (or 1969 feet), you should allow yourself at least two hours to complete this hike. And don’t forget to admire the old-growth Douglas fir trees!
Planning on exploring more of beautiful British Columbia? If so, check out my 7-day Canadian Rockies road trip itinerary between Calgary and Vancouver!
Wander Around Ganges
If you’re not interested in hiking Salt Spring Island, there are many other great things to do, like visiting the main town of Ganges.
Salt Spring Island’s charming town of Ganges is where you can find groceries, shops, cafés, and the best Salt Spring Island restaurants. While it’s nothing like the bustling city life of Vancouver (or even Victoria), Ganges is an enchanting place to stroll around for an afternoon!
Check Out Some of the Salt Spring Island Art Galleries and Studios
While you’re exploring the town of Ganges, some of the best places to check out are the local art galleries and studios.
With Salt Spring Island, BC having the highest number of artists per capita in Canada, Ganges has an abundance of art studios and galleries worth visiting. And the best way to visit them is through the self-guided Studio Tour!
Not only do you get to admire some great local art, but you can watch the artisans at work, creating ceramic bowls, pottery, jewelry, and more. At some studios, you can even create some crafts yourself! But note that some of the studios are only open from May to September.
Click here to learn more about the Salt Spring Studio Tour.
Hike the Trails in Mount Erskine Provincial Park
Now, let’s get back to the best hiking on Salt Spring Island. For another great provincial park, look no further than Mount Erskine.
While the Salt Spring Island parks mentioned so far all have their own unique charms, Mount Erskine Provincial Park is definitely the most magical, with charming little fairy houses hiding around! Made by locals, admiring these fairy houses is one of the best things to do in Salt Spring Island.
Additionally, the hike up Mount Erskine is utterly enchanting, cutting through moss carpets and dense forests to a summit with breathtaking views!
Try Some Salt Spring Island Cheese
Next, the ultimate stop for all cheese enthusiasts is the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company shop. Specializing in artisan goat and sheep cheese, the store offers tons of variety. You can take a peek at how the cheese is made through the viewing windows!
If you want to learn more about the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, click here.
Visit the Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm
For a great Instagram spot on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, visit the Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm. Spanning two acres and hosting up to 60 varieties of organically-grown lavender, Sacred Mountain is the perfect place to drop by.
However, the farm is only open from May to September (with the lavender at its prettiest in June). And while the farm is free to visit, you’ll inevitably spend a lot on their lavender products in their store!
You can also go on a self-guided tour around the farm, where you can learn more about how the lavender is grown, cultivated, dried, and processed into an essential oil. If you want to learn more about the Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm (or maybe even buy some of their products online), click here.
Drop By a Salt Spring Island Winery
While British Columbia’s top wine destination is the Okanagan Valley, Salt Spring Island offers their own fabulous wineries: Garry Oaks Winery and Salt Spring Island Vineyards. If you’re a wine enthusiast, drop by one (or both) of these vineyards and sample some delicious wine!
Taste the Salt Spring Island Cider
Finally, if you prefer cider, one of the best things to do in Salt Spring Island is to try the local craft cider at Salt Spring Wild! Using organic orchard apples, as well as wild apples and pears, the ciders produced at Salt Spring Wild are delicious. It is definitely a worthwhile stop as you tour Salt Spring Island, BC.
Thinking of visiting Vancouver, and want to learn about the best Vancouver hiking trails? Click here for my Vancouver hiking guide, or click here for the best hikes near Vancouver!
Other Important Travel Information
When is the Best Time to Visit Salt Spring Island?
The best time to visit Salt Spring Island is definitely in the summer, from May to September. With warm weather, little rain, and an open Saturday Market and Art Studio Tour, you get to enjoy the best of Salt Spring Island!
How to Get to Salt Spring Island
While Salt Spring Island does have a seaplane terminal (meaning it is possible to fly in), the best way to get to Salt Spring Island is by ferry.
If you plan to take a ferry to Salt Spring Island, you have 3 possible routes (using BC Ferries):
- Tsawwassen to Long Harbor: First, if you’re visiting Salt Spring Island from Vancouver, the most direct route is from Tsawwassen to Long Harbor. The ferry will take anywhere from 1.25 to 3.5 hours, along with the 40 minute drive (or hour long public transit) from downtown Vancouver to Tsawwassen.
- Swartz Bay to Fulford Harbor: If you’re visiting Salt Spring Island from Victoria on Vancouver Island, the best route is from Swartz Bay to Fulford Harbor, which will only take 35 minutes. This is also another option for taking a ferry to Salt Spring Island from Vancouver, if you first take a ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay.
- Crofton to Vesuvius Bay: If you’re visiting Salt Spring Island from another part of Vancouver Island, the best route is from Crofton (near Duncan and Nanaimo). This ferry will only take you 20 minutes.
For more information on these routes and BC ferries, check out the BC Ferries website!
If you are short on time (or just prefer to fly), you can also take a seaplane from Vancouver to Salt Spring Island, using either Harbour Air/Salt Spring Air, or Seair Seaplanes. These flights will only take you 35 minutes!
How to Get Around Salt Spring Island
Now that you’ve arrived at Salt Spring Island, what’s the best way to get around? Well, there are several options, including:
- Rent a Car: Driving around Salt Spring Island is definitely the best way to explore the island, being both quick and efficient. You can either rent a car (or scooter) on Salt Spring Island, or you can take a car with you on the ferry from Vancouver to Salt Spring Island (although your ferry tickets will cost more).
- Rent a Bicycle: If you’re not keen on driving around the island, you can also rent a bike! While this is quite fun, most roads on Salt Spring Island are a bit narrow, making it hard for cyclists.
- Use Salt Spring Transit: Another option is to use the Salt Spring Island bus system. With buses at all three ferry terminals (and more), taking the bus is a great budget option for traveling Salt Spring Island.
- Hire a Taxi: While this is the most expensive option, it is available for those with a bigger budget, or for those who prefer not to drive.
As a Side Note,
If you’re planning a trip to Vancouver, or British Columbia in general, and you’re wondering what to do (other than taking a day trip to the fabulous Salt Spring Island), check out my other articles:
- The Ultimate Self-Guided Vancouver Walking Tour
- The 15 Best Hikes in Vancouver
- 22 Incredible Hikes near Vancouver
- 18 Spectacular Weekend Getaways from Vancouver
- 6 Epic Whistler Hikes
- The Perfect 7-Day Canadian Rockies Road Trip: How to Drive from Calgary to Vancouver
- 15 Incredible Day Trips from Seattle
- The Perfect Self-Guided Walking Tour of Seattle
I hope this list gave you some fabulous ideas on what to do on Salt Spring Island! While the island is small, it’s filled with breathtaking natural beauty and awesome artisan products. You definitely won’t regret visiting Salt Spring Islands!
Thanks for reading the article! If you have any questions, feel free to comment down below, and if you want to see more travel and hike-related content, make sure to check out my other articles.
Photos by Mia and Pixabay.
About to embark on a trip? Here are some helpful articles to make your trip as awesome and stress-free as possible:
And here are some additional helpful links:
- Click here for my walking tours
- Click here for my hiking guides
- Click here for more posts on North America
- Click here for more posts on destinations in Canada
- Click here for more resources
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