Home to beautiful scenery, unique stores, and a thriving arts community, Salt Spring Island is a wonderful place to visit and an ideal place to live.
With one of the best climates in Canada, it offers temperate and moderately dry weather. An eight month long growing season makes Salt Spring a gardener’s delight — daffodils bloom in February while much of Canada is still covered in snow. Known as the “banana belt” or the Canadian Hawaiian Islands, Salt Spring even features a few subtropical plants such as palms and banana trees.
The island is well-known for its varied and talented arts community which influences just about every walk of life. ArtSpring, the local arts centre, hosts a full range of theatrical and musical events throughout the year, as well as housing ongoing art exhibits.
During extended summer months, the historic Mahon Hall in Ganges features a large sampling of local artisan’s work in a show and sale called ArtCraft, while various other galleries and studios spot the island, welcoming people to exhibits and art demonstrations.
Throughout November and December, the island is awash in Christmas craft fairs, offering up unique gift ideas and lots of opportunities for islander-get-togethers.
During the spring and summer, local vendors spread out their wares in the Saturday market in Centennial Park. Here, islanders and visitors meet to enjoy a morning coffee and home-baked goodies, buy gourmet bread, goat’s cheese or flowers, and enjoy browsing the hand-crafted items offered up by island’s many creative people. Usually, a walk through the market occurs to a backdrop of music as buskers set up music stands and instruments or bands such as a brass ensemble or marimba group gather to play for the sheer joy of it.
Salt Spring Islanders also enjoy numerous island-wide events such as Canada Day celebrations, Hallowe’en parades and fireworks, home and garden tours, and festivals that honour everything from apples to garlic and lavender.
The largest and most popular event is the fall fair held the third weekend of September. This is the time when islanders, busy during the summer months, emerge from their homes and return from their vacations to enjoy livestock, art, cooking, and craft exhibits, horse riding competitions, a country-style midway, and booths full of tempting food — all to a backdrop of continuous music.
For those wanting to take a break from island activities, Salt Spring offers numerous hiking trails, kayaking, golf and tennis opportunities as well as an indoor pool facility.
Hidden away in Salt Spring’s 44,000 acres of rural countryside and small urban centres, are scenic mountainous vantage points, sandy beaches, enchanting forests with rare fauna and endangered Gary Oak trees, orchards, vineyards and fresh water lakes, popular for summer swimming.
Islanders live alongside an abundance of wildlife, including deer (frequently seen in backyards and gardens), raccoons, beavers, otter, and the occasional passing of orca whales.
It is not surprising that many of today’s residents were once visitors who found the allure of Salt Spring Island irresistible.
Most people travel to Salt Spring via ferry, landing at one of three on-island terminals. The Tsawwassen (near Vancouver) to Long Harbour run usually offers two trips a day, with extra sailings in the summer time. This route can be as short as one hour and 30 minutes on a direct route or up to three hours if the ferry is stopping at the other Gulf Islands.
Ferry service from Crofton (near Duncan on Vancouver Island) to Vesuvius offers frequent sailings, almost hourly, every day. This is a short 20 minute ferry ride. Crofton is located on Vancouver Island between Victoria and Nanaimo.
Swartz Bay (near Victoria) to Fulford Harbour is the most frequently used route, offering service every two hours. Swartz Bay is located just outside of Sidney, B.C. It is about a 30 minute drive to downtown Victoria and about seven minutes to Victoria International Airport. A 35 minute voyage, this ferry runs every other hour and is a common boat for commuters who enjoy the Salt Spring lifestyle while employed in Victoria.
Make reservations or find out more information at www.bcferries.com.
There are also alternative Ferries, listed below:
Private air service companies offer flights from Vancouver, Nanaimo, Victoria, and Seattle. Daily scheduled service and chartered flights are available.
Harbour Air: book online at www.harbourair.com
or by calling (250) 537-9880
Seair SeaPlanes: book online at www.seairseaplanes.com
or by calling 1 (800) 447-3247
Gulf Islands Water Taxi: A 40-passenger vessel available
for charter or tours. Year-round service is offered, connecting
Salt Spring, Galiano, Mayne and Pender islands. It also offers
24-hour emergency service. Call (250) 537-2510 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at www.gulfislandswatertaxi.com
If you are traveling by your own boat from the United States, there is a customs office at Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island.
Some of the nicest hikes in one of the loveliest parks in the Gulf Islands. Heritage farm buildings and many kilometers of well marked trails with trail maps, along the shoreline or through splendid forest. Allow half to full day to do all the trails. One trail follows the shoreline for over 4 km up to Yeo Point.
One the the loveliest walks on the island through beautiful fir, cedar and arbutus forest along a very pretty shoreline, with views of Fulford Harbour and surrounding islands. Trail is located between the end of Reginald Hill estates private road and the end of Menhinick Drive.
Steep winding trail, with some challenging sections, ascending about 200 meters to a hill top with amazing views over Fulford Harbour and the Fulford Valley. Approximately 1.5 km each way and takes up to 60 minutes for the walk up, little less coming down. Access by the end of Morningside Road.
Trails are generally easy, with some steep areas. There are both ocean and island views with two viewpoints over St. Mary Lake. A good place to enter this trail is off of Canvasback by the first set of mail boxes. Another entry point is at 1110 Sunset Drive.
A beautiful walk along meandering Duck Creek. You will feel like you have entered Fern Gully. Walk through an open meadow. This is an excellent dog walk. One can either enter the trail near the bottom of Broadwell Rd or at the mailboxes near 208 Sunset Drive.
Located next to the Ganges core area. A network of hiking trails are available for long or short walks. Parking is available at the top of Seaview Road (behind ArtSpring). This area has also been made into Hart Memorial Disc Golf Course consisting of 18 tonal pins.
A trail of about 1.3 km each way links the end of Seymour Heights Road (at corner of of Wright Road), off Armand Way. The trails are moderately difficult with some steep sections as the trail climbs about 200 m to the peak of Mount Maxwell.
The trail climbs steeply to a lookout point at about 440m with breathtaking views over north Saltspring and Vancouver Island. Trailhead marker on the left hand side of Collins Road about .7 km from where Rainbow Road meets Collins Road.
A one hour circle route through forest and south along the beach by Trincomali Channel (if low tide allows) just before the breakwater there is another trail that will take you along North End Farm to North End Road.
A vigorous 10 minute trail down to the beach with a walk southward along the shore at low tide to Booth Inlet. This is a short but steep climb and the entrance is at 241 Quarry Drive.
About 7 kms on crown land with some excellent views over Fulford Harbour and the southern Gulf Islands. The trail head is on the left side of Musgrave Rd about 3.5 km past Isabella Point Road.
A one hour return walk through the forest to a creek and waterfall (in wet season). Take Musgrave Road up to about 200m before its every end, take a left turn, and the trail is at the end of an open field.
Located in the heart of Ganges, this playground has been recently redone to accommodate to children of all ages. You’ll find rope climbing structures, large saucer swings, and much more. This is also the location of the beloved Saturday Market.
This is a popular park for locals with loads of activities and fun for the whole family. Plenty of playground equipment to entertain children for hours, as well as tennis courts, basketball court, baseball diamond, and even a full loop running track.
Hidden away in the south end of the island, this lovely park is just minutes away from the Fulford Ferry. Kid’s can play for hours on the climbing apparatus equipped with a swirly slide and monkey bars. A perfect place for a family Picnic or a walk along the beach.