Salt Spring Island is one of British Columbia’s best-kept-secrets and with a little know-how, you can visit this breathtaking piece of paradise.
Salt Spring Island is one of British Columbia’s best-kept secrets. Those who know about it, are aware of how truly special this little island in the Pacific is. While celebrities like Ryan Reynolds and George Clooney are often spotted traveling to the city of Vancouver, many also venture out to Salt Spring to enjoy some of the island’s hidden treasures.
Some islands around the world are incredibly gorgeous but nearly impossible to reach, however, that’s just not the case with Salt Spring. It’s the shiniest gem in a chain of islands that many “in-the-know” Vancouverites and tourists alike consider a vacation hotspot. They go for the food, the stunning vistas, the “hippie” vibes, and so much more.
Without further ado, here is what to expect when visiting beautiful Salt Spring Island off the coast of Vancouver, Canada.
10. A Gorgeous But Sometimes Long Ferry Ride Takes You Into Verdant Magic Of This Island
Salt Spring Island is surrounded by the Salish Sea Between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, where most tourists spend their time. And while there are many ways to plan the perfect weekend in Vancouver including brewery hopping, everyone should consider hopping on a ferry and heading over to Salt Spring. While you can take a seaplane or helijet to the island, the use of BC Ferries is the most popular. Getting to Salt Spring via ferry from Vancouver Island is quick and easy, but from Vancouver, it can take a few hours. But the rides are generally gorgeous and peaceful. You may even see a whale or two along the way.
9. The Chilled-Out Island Lifestyle Of Farmer’s Markets And Free-Spiritedness Is Unlikely To Change
While Salt Spring Island has become a hot tourist spot, especially in 2016, it’s unlikely to change its vintage, chilled-out, hippie ways. The island has a long history of agriculture and artisanship. Therefore, weekly farmer’s markets are one of the most popular events to attend on the island. Most of the shops are family-run and are so free-spirited they give Portland a run for its money. The islanders welcome tourists of all perspectives and economic realities and some of these visitors end up living there. But they don’t change the very specific vibe the island has.
8. Salt Spring Has The Best Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwiches You’ll Find West Of Quebec
Salt Spring Island is home to a small Jewish deli that features melt-in-your-mouth Montreal smoked meat sandwiches that may actually change your life. The smoked meat at Buzzy’s Luncheonette takes 10 days to cure, 8 hours to smoke, and 3 hours to steam. That, mixed with the owner’s secret recipe, results in something truly remarkable, according to almost all reviewers on both TripAdvisor and Yelp. Buzzy’s Luncheonette, located in The Ganges, is one of the many family-run businesses on the island, but it truly stands out above the rest. It’s owned and operated by a comedian and television writer, Howard Busgang (AKA “Buzzy”), and his equally funny wife, Melanie Weaver, who treats everyone like a regular.
7. There Are Absolutely No Shortage Of Hiking Opportunities
There are more than 30 different trails amongst the three provincial parks and several regional parks on Salt Spring Island, according to The Vancouver Sun. Hikers of all levels will likely find a trail that best suits their skills and desires. The most challenging hikes include the one up Mount Maxwell which reaches about 602 meters. Then there are calming hikes such as the Channel Ridge which boasts stunning views of Stewart Channel. The easiest hikes include the one through Peter Arnell Park which is located on the high ridge between the Fulford and Ganges areas.
6. The Ganges Is The Center Of It All Including The Farmer’s Market
The Ganges is an area on the coast of the northeast side of the island that is basically seen as Salt Spring’s “downtown”. We’ve already mentioned that The Ganges is the home of Buzzy’s Luncheonette, but it’s also home to a number of other charming businesses such as the Tree House Cafe, Mateada Lounge, Leaf Compassion Dispensary, Harlans Chocolate and Gelato, and BurgerBar537. It’s also home to the much-beloved Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market where many independent artisans and craftspeople sell their array of charming products.
5. Cheese Fanatics Go Crazy For The Salt Spring Island Cheese Company
Down in the Fulford area of the island is one of Salt Spring’s most beloved attractions, the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company. Not only does this independent, family-run business produce and distribute cheese to many businesses across North America, but they have an exquisite year-round tasting room in their shop. According to their website, you can also watch the cheese being made through a window. Salt Spring Island Cheese Company specializes in goat cheese with tremendous flavors ranging from chili to tapenade to truffle.
4. Whale Watching And Sea Kayaking Are Relaxing And Popular Experiences On Salt Spring
Given that nature is one of Salt Spring’s main attractions, it’s no surprise that kayaking and whale watching are such popular activities on the island. The best sightings for whales are between June and September. You can book an expedition through Salt Spring Adventure Co. Ltd. which leaves from The Ganges and takes visitors on an incredible whale watching ad marine wildlife tour. As for kayaking, multiple businesses cater to the needs of kayakers of all skill-sets. If you can’t handle the ocean, harbor paddles are just as beautiful.
3. If The Ocean Scares You, Lake Adventures Are Just As Fun And You Can Even Stay There
Most islands are known for their ocean-front attractions, but Salt Spring Island also has five freshwater lakes for visitors to enjoy. In the summer, swimming in all of these lakes is allowed and recommended. You can take your pick from Blackburn Lake, Weston Lake, St. Mary Lake, Cusheon Lake, or Stowell Lake. A few of these lakes also have cabins nearby for those wanting to stay in a more rural area. Otherwise, you can book a room at Mineral Springs Resort, Salt Spring Island Inn, Wisteria Guesthouse, or the stunning Harbour House Hotel.
2. Brewery, Cider, And Wine Tours Are Plentiful
While Salt Spring may be known for growing an assortment of mind-bending, feel-good products, they’re also known for their brewery, distillery, and vineyards. Beer lovers will adore Salt Springs Island ales’ tasting room which rests in a treehouse-Esque cottage on the slope of a mountain. Shien Craft Disterilly is where you’d go for all your artisan vodka, gin, and moonshine needs, and there are vineyards to visit like Garry Oaks. Then, of course, there is Salt Spring Wild Cider which is enormously popular, according to Salt Spring Tourism.
1. Ruckle Provincial Park Is A Great Way To Reconnect With Nature
Visiting Ruckle Provincial Park is a must for anyone heading to Salt Spring Island. The park has the largest campground of any of the surrounding Gulf Islands, but it’s also a great place to visit for the better part of an afternoon. The coastline of the park is a great place to sit and watch the sailboats and ferries go by as well as look for starfish and crabs. Spotting a sealion or whale out in the blue-green waters is also a typical occurrence. In short, it’s a beautiful place to reconnect with nature or even just yourself.
BY DYLAN PARKER