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A Day on Salt Spring Island: Top 7 Activities
Discover Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island is one of the BC Gulf Islands’ largest and most popular islands—and for good reason! Salt Spring is home to an award-winning brewery, a large farmer’s market, several charming towns, and endless mountains, forests, pastures, lakes, rivers, and beaches, making for a beautiful and exciting experience. So, where to start? For visitors with limited time, below are the top 7 things to do during your visit to Salt Spring, even if you only have a day.
1. Salt Spring Brewery
Salt Spring Brewery should be your first stop when you arrive on the island, as this award-winning brewery is just minutes away from Fulford Harbour, and the obvious starting point for your visit. Drive past acres of farmland, turning onto Furness, past ‘Alchemy Farms,’ all the way to the end of the road. In a forested area teeming with ferns, you’ll find Salt Spring Brewery standing high, an old converted barn where you can purchase their award-winning ales, porters, and IPAs. Grab a tasting flight to know what you like—make sure to try the Earl Grey IPA—and take your pick! As you drive away with your beer (or beers!) of choice, stop by the Alchemy Farms vendor fridge, where you can purchase a variety of local and organic meats.
2. Mt. Maxwell
Mt. Maxwell offers some of Salt Spring’s best views, and can be hiked from several starting points nearer to the base of the mountain. If you’re on a tight schedule, though, it’s common to just drive all the way to the top, and wander around, taking in the beauty. From this incredible vantage point on a clear day you might see the hundreds of micro islands and inlets that make up the Gulf Islands, or you might see the rolling pastures and dense forests that make up so much of the island’s terrain.
3. Salt Spring Saturday Market
The famous Saturday market on Salt Spring draws not just locals from the island, but from nearby islands too—especially Vancouver Island. During the busy summer months, this extends to visitors and tourists as well. The reason for the popularity of this market is for the variety of vendors and artisans stationed at the market, selling local goods like organic soap, skin care products, jewelry, bandanas, graphic tees, lavender, plants and fresh cut flowers, candles, pottery, wooden toys, and wall art. Meanwhile, food-wise, you’ll find food trucks and other ready-to-eat treats, meats, cheeses, eggs, and coffee beans, as well as the freshest farm-grown fruits and vegetables. Add a touch of small-town charm and an idyllic backdrop, and you have yourself the perfect day! (April-October).
4. Ruckle Park
Wanting to stay overnight without breaking the bank on pricey accommodation? Think no further than Ruckle Park, with 7 kilometres of coastline and 529 hectares of grass, rock, sand, and forest. Ruckle Park is a BC provincial park, and along with its 78 ocean view campsites, it’s also a great hiking spot for explorers looking for scenic trails. But the best part? Finding a spot on the beach on a hot summer’s day, and watching the world drift by—ferries, sailboats, killer whales, sea lions, bald eagles. At sunset, catch an unparalleled view of the sky’s changing colours against the coast line of islands in your line of vision.
5. Ganges Inner Harbour
Salt Spring’s inner harbour is a charming conglomerate of docked motor boats, sail boats, and pleasure crafts, free for your viewing pleasure. There are sometimes float planes that land and take off from this area; always an exciting sight to see! Like most harbours, the Ganges inner harbour is home to various music and art festivals, permanent and temporary vendors and artisans, and of course fireworks for any and all events. For visitors hoping to stay close to town, visiting the charming inner harbour is the perfect way to see nature without wandering too far away.
6. Town of Ganges
The town of Ganges is a charming community, and the most central hub of the island, with grocery stores, cafes, art galleries, and restaurants. Highlights include The Museum for a detailed history of the island, Salt Spring Coffee for some of the best organic, fair trade coffee around, and Barb’s Bakery and Bistro for quality baked goods and hot breakfast and lunch options.
7. St. Mary's Lake, Cusheon Lake, Blackburn Lake
Finally, if you’re on Salt Spring on a hot day, a visit to at least one of its many fresh water lakes is a must. Blackburn Lake’s long dock is a popular spot for nude sunbathing, while Cusheon Lake is one of the best for families and swimmers with little experience, because of its shallow beach entry. Then, of course, you can’t forget St. Mary’s Lake, beautiful, large, and with little public beach access, this is one of Salt Spring’s best lakes for swimming.
You can find out more about Salt Spring Island and its lakes, mountains, villages, as well as nearby Gulf Islands here: http://www.discovervancouverisland.com/regions/gulf-islands/salt-spring-island/