Come Visit Salt Spring Island: BC’s Top Vacation Destination
Salt Spring is the largest island by acreage and population of British Columbia’s southern gulf islands. It’s located in the Trincomali Channel west of Galiano Island and a couple hours north of Victoria. There’s no airport, so the only way to get to the island is to take a boat or seaplane. Luckily for tourists and the general population, BC offers a ferry service departing from Tsawwassen to Long Harbor on the island. If you’d rather fly in, SaltSpring Air offers direct flights from Vancouver Airport to the island as well. In the summer, many tourists enjoy biking through British Columbia and then taking the ferry over to the island part way through the trip.
The population of Salt Spring is an eclectic mix of artists, tourists, and wealthy retirees. The island was originally settled in 1859 by farmers. Over the decades since, a variety of other people have moved into the area, creating a unique culture that people travel from far and wide to experience.
Once you’re on the island, renting a car is the best way to get around (if you didn’t drive one there). Salt Spring Car Rentals offers various vehicles for less than $130 per day. If you don’t want to drive, there are bus routes available through the transit authority. The Salt Spring Island Transit Commission runs 6 bus routes connecting the various ferry terminals. This is not very helpful for sightseeing however because most of the attractions are in other areas. Taxis are another local transportation option, which work well because the rates are monitored by the Passenger Transportation Board.
Where to Go and What to Do
Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm – This specialty farm sits at the base of Mount Tuam ecological reserve. It grows more than 60 species of Lavender. Walk through its lush fields and watch the process the Sacred Mountain team uses to harvest the Lavender and convert it into personal care products. The special plants grown here are used in spa products, cooking, and essential oils too. The 35-acre property hosts retreats and special events of all sizes. There are multiple buildings, yurts, and catering facilities to meet any needs you might have. There’s also a private sauna with room for 15 people If you’re looking for a serene break from daily life, this is the place to go.
Artist Studio Tour – For the tourists that can’t pass up a good drink, this is your spot. The first item to note is Salt Spring Island Ales. Water is taken directly from the spring and combined with organic pale malt to brew delicious custom ales. The other ingredients all come from the land and those are a secret! You should really try it. It’s out of this world.
Second is a collection of homemade jewelry makers – Queen Bee Design, Sacred Earth Temple, and Infinity Studios. Queen Bee Design features necklaces and bracelets covered in beautiful, colored gemstones. Sacred Earth Temple offers a variety of art, earrings, bracelets, herbs, and smudge kits. And finally, Infinity Studios has mala beads, oil paintings, custom cloths, and jewelry as well. There are also a number of small businesses that sell various leather-work.
Third is paintings and sculptures. Serendipity Studios, led by Margaret Threlfall, features one-of-a-kind watercolor paintings inspired by the local environment. She also sells wool with her husband, but it’s often unavailable due to its popularity. After visiting there, stop by Blue Horse Folk Art Gallery. The work of Anna Gustafson and Paul Burke is filled with clay, wood, paint, and bronze. Items range from creative animal statues to lamp bases. Next on the list is CSM Gallery and Studio. Carl Sean McMahon molds scrap metal in land animals, sea animals, and metal masks that look like something we discovered among an ancient civilization. Fourth is Gillian Gandossi, whose canvas paintings are most impressive; they’re typically inspired by nature and feature water or animals. Last on the tour of artists is Sean Goddard, who’s famous for his work with stained glass. The interesting thing is that all of his work revolves around insects.
Go for a Swim – After you’re done visiting the artists’ studios and picking Lavender, go swimming in the Ganges Harbor. You may want to wait until August for that though since the temperature is likely to be in the low 60’s. Also keep in mind, that during May and early June, pollen levels are high. Those with allergies would do best to until late summer to visit.
Go Hiking – There are 14 great places to hike on Salt Spring Island:
- Channel Ridge Trail Network
- Duck Creek Park
- Baker Beach Loop
- Dunbabin Trail
- Mount Erskine Assault Route
- Mount Erskine Provincial Park
- Mouat Park
- Welbury Bay Park
- Mount Maxwell Provincial Park
- Burgoyne Bay
- Peter Arnell Park
- Reginald Hill Trail
- Chris Hatfield Trail
- Ruckle Provincial Park
Go Rock Climbing – Mount Maxwell offers numerous opportunities for rock-climbers novice and advanced alike. The walls are similar to cobble stone, leaving many places to grip while climbing up the face.
Go Kayaking – Kayaking is a great way to sight-see. Rent a kayak for less than $100 and paddle down the river and view the lush green scenery. If you go during the fall, you’re in for an autumn treat! The yellow, red, and orange colors are bright and vibrant; just don’t fall in the cold water!
For more ideas on what to do, check out this video: