Out and About Salt Spring Island

The beauty of this, as one the largest of the Southern Gulf Islands, will astound you. From your first glimpse of Salt Spring Island, you will be in love with the Island’s friendliness, natural beauty, and artistic charm. There is much to do so read on and start making up your visit itinerary!
Salt Spring Island, the largest of the Gulf Islands covering 157 square kilometres, was first settled in 1859 by a variety of immigrants, many from California hoping to escape that states’ laws and in search of farmland. Other immigrants came from Portugal, Scandinavia, and Hawaii many came to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Salt Spring is the only one of the Gulf Islands not named after a famous explorer or their ship. In fact, the island was named after northern mineral springs. As is the case with many of the other Gulf Islands, the Coast Salish came to Salt Spring thousands of years ago. Petroglyphs marking the earliest settlements can still be viewed, most particularly at Drummond Park.


Who lives on Salt Spring?

Salt Spring Island is the largest and most populated of the Gulf Islands with over ten thousand residents. One of the pioneering families of the island, the Mouats, came from the Shetland Islands and still run a number of the island’s businesses. Now the island is home to artists, outdoor adventurers, families, and businesses alike.

Where is it and how do I get there?

There is easy access by BC Ferries from Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island or from Tsawwassen terminal located on the Canadian mainland to many of the Gulf Islands, including Salt Spring. Additionally, BC Ferries also offers service to Salt Spring Island from the town of Crofton, located between Duncan and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. 
Find out more about BC Ferries service to the Gulf Islands, including fares, reservations on the Tsawwassen-Gulf Island route, and schedules, on their web site at www.bcferries.com or call 1-888-BCFERRY (BC) or (250) 386-3431 (Victoria).
Another excellent scenic way to make your Gulf Island escape is by floatplane. Private air service companies offer safe, efficient flights to the Gulf Islands from a variety of departure points, including Vancouver, Nanaimo, Victoria, and Seattle. Daily scheduled service and chartered flights are available.

When should I go?

The temperate climate (the mildest in all of Canada) makes the Gulf Islands the perfect destination almost any time of the year. Here, it is drier than Vancouver and the islands are more protected than Victoria. Enjoy spring as early as February; warm, sunny, and dry summers; the vibrancy of fall; and, frost-free winters perfect for hiking, cycling, or kayaking. You really can’t go wrong no matter when you plan to visit! A tip for packing: bring layers. You may need clothing for all types of weather during your visit – warmth, wind, and water! Nights are always a little chilly – especially if you are walking by the water – so bring a light jacket even in the summer.

What should I do when I get there?

The island has everything you will need while visiting, including shopping centres, coffee houses, hospitals, restaurants, pubs, entertainment, and recreation facilities. Also, don’t miss out on the variety of locally-made products, ranging from beer (check out the Gulf Islands Brewery) to soap, cheeses, aromatherapy products, and even Salt Spring’s famous gumboots, in an colour you desire, and available in Ganges! Further details on the Island’s offerings are described below.

What are some of the Island’s unique features?

Artistic Abundance ...

The farmer's markets, craft fairs, art galleries and cottage industries located on the island showcase the world famous population of artisans and artists on Salt Spring. You can view the works of these talented residents on the Saltspring Studio Tour.Don’t miss historic Mahon Hall in downtown Ganges! This is the venue for ArtCraft, an exhibition  and sale of work from more than 200 exceptional Gulf Islands artists and artisans.
Island Markets...
The Salt Spring Island Saturday Market in the Park, open every Saturday from mid-April until mid-October, is another showcase that abounds with the creativity of the Gulf Islands. Enjoy the art, taste the fresh produce and homemade treats, and take in the ambience of Centennial Park in Ganges.

Discover the Water ...

A number of public docks and full service marinas can be found on Salt Spring Island Borgoyne Bay 
Fernwood, Walker Hook 
Ganges - Inner harbour Phone: (250) 537-5711 
Ganges - Outer harbour Phone: (250) 537-5711 
Musgrave Landing 
Fulford Marina Phone: (250) 653-4467 
Ganges Marina Phone: (250) 537-5242 
Salt Spring Marina Phone: (250) 537-5810
If kayaking in and around Saltspring Island is what you desire, Sea Otter Kayaking looks forward to making your adventure unforgettable. Give them a call at: 1-877-537-5678 or Fax (250) 653-4875

Also keep in mind that Salt Spring Island has a number of freshwater lakes: St. Mary Lake, Stowell Lake, Blackburn Lake, Cusheon Lake, and Weston Lake. The island also has the highest peaks in the Gulf Islands: Mount Bruce, Mount Maxwell, and Mount Tuam.

Enjoy the Wildlife ...

Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre is yours to discover. Visit their web site to find out more. http://www.islandnet.com/~wildlife

Explore the Parks & Beaches ...

From hiking the highest point on the Gulf Islands to discovering some of the 27 beach accesses, the recreational areas on ‘The Big Island’ are outstanding. There are a variety of community and provincial parks to explore on Salt Spring Island offering scenic views and trails. The parks and recreational areas have been preserved through the Provincial Government, a joint Federal and Provincial initiative, and through the regional and community parks programs.

Here's a sampling of the parks and natural areas that await you:

Mill Farm, 95 hectares of land, was acquired in 1997 and protects a historic part of the island. It's undeveloped, with outstanding views, and bountiful natural scenery. 

Ruckle Provincial Park (Beaver Point) overlooks Swanson Channel and is a must-see for day visits or walk-in camping near the ocean. This park is a favourite for coastal walks, as well as for fishing, picnicking, or boating. Facilities include toilets, water, picnic tables, and barbecues. There are 70 walk-in campsites and a few sites for RV vehicles. 

Mouat Park, one of the Island’s community parks (five more are mentioned below), is located close to Ganges and in an excellent location for exploring the community. Basic facilities are available for those wishing to camp. 

Centennial Park, in central Ganges near the harbour, is a busy park, with a popular market held here from spring to fall. The park has a day use area with seats, a children’s playground, toilets, and an abundance of fruit trees to gaze upon. 

Peter Arnell Park is a thirteen-hectare park featuring walks and picnicking.

Musgrave Green Belt is a thirty-five hectare undeveloped park suitable for rambling. Trails extend to the shoreline. 

Mt. Erskine is a steep hiking trail found within a public park, which is administered by the Islands' Trust.

Duck Creek Community Park is a recently developed community park with an easy and well-maintained trail for hikers of all levels. 

Vesuvius Beach, near the Crofton ferry dock, is one of Salt Spring's most popular swimming beaches, alleged to have the warmest water on the island. 

Fernwood Beach, with its government dock and expansive beach, faces Trincomali Channel.

Drummond Park is best known for its Petroglyph and children's playground. The tidal flats here are good for paddling, and there are barbecues, toilets, and picnic tables. 

Where should I stay?

No matter what your budget will allow while on Salt Spring, there are a number of  accommodation options available to you. Gulf Island Accommodations

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