Saltspring has fine wine.
When i cycled around Saltspring i was asked one day if i could give them a hand with the local grape picking and of course i just loved that idea.
After doing that i just had to try the local wine and it's highly recommended.
The Saltspring wine is mainly whitewine and i was suprised to see such good quality wine so far north.
Kayaking around the islands
This is a wonderfully fun and serene way to see the islands that surround Salt Spring. Whether you're new (like we were) or seasoned, there is something for everyone. Island Escapades is a great company, and the staff is fantastic! We were luck to have perfect kayaking conditions in late October - clear and crisp air, calm waters, and not another kayak or boat on the move anywhere near us! Even if you feel intimidated, PLEASE try it! If you lve to be active in anyway at all, you will love this! You can get the gear there - it is included in the tour! Bring a hat, though. If you're experienced, they do rent out equiptment without the tour.
Rural country bliss on Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island is the largest of all the Gulf Islands. For those not familiar with the region, the Gulf Islands are small chain of islands located off the south-eastern shore of Vancouver Island in the Strait of Georgia (about 30km off the coast from Vancouver). For those familiar with the San Juan Islands in Washington State, USA, the Gulf Islands are actually a part of the same island chain - it's just that the Canada-USA border divides them, and thus, they have different names.
Salt Spring Island is often considered the most popular Gulf Island because it's the largest, but it's also the most populated, and probably the most famous of them all... and yet, my first time there was only recently, in the summer of 2006. You see, the Gulf Islands are a popular place to go on short vacations for people living in Vancouver or Vancouver Island, so while a lot of my friends and family had spent time on Salt Spring, I was glad to finally see what the fuss was about!
In August 2006 we rented a car in Vancouver and drove it to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal in the morning. Because it was a long weekend, we made sure we had reservations before boarding the ferry, otherwise who'd know how long we'd have to wait.
The ferry from Tsawwassen to Salt Spring Island's Long Harbour terminal takes a little bit more than one hour, but it's a beautiful ride. Once on the island, we followed the masses of cars off the ferry and into downtown Ganges. Ganges is Salt Spring Island's own town. It's been around for over 100 years and some of its historic architecture (well, historic for this part of the country!) can be seen. Lots of cafes, little boutiques, ice cream parlours, and shops.
We stopped off in Ganges to take a look around and then found our B&B located a short drive from the water, up the hill from Ganges. We dropped off our luggage and then went to the Ganges Farmer's Market which is only open on Saturday until 3pm! Having only arrived at 2pm, we were able to stroll and see all the fresh produce, as well as local floral arrangements, fresh organic cheeses, local artwork, jewellery and locally-made clothing (and yes, it was not surprising to see tie-dyed shirts!). Many local women wore their country dresses and floppy hats. Teens tended to sport the hippy attire, with facial piercings and dreads, beating djembe drums to a didgeridoo in the parkside. And everywhere you'd go on the island, people would be hitchhiking.
During our two nights on Salt Spring, we explored Vesuvius Bay, Beddis Beach, Fulford Harbour, and Ruckle Provincial Park. We spent time exploring Ganges (where we found our favourite bookstore, Sabine's), and drove through the countryside visiting the Moonstruck Organic Cheese Farm and the Salt Spring Island Winery. Without a car, I'd have no idea how we'd be able to see everything - there's no public transit on the island, and the distances are larger than one might expect.
Compared to other Gulf Islands I've visited, Salt Spring definitely has more of an old world rural country charm. There's a vibrant artist community on Salt Spring, and from all the open-house art studios dotted around the landscape, it's very much evident. And as you drive through the island's north and south communities, you drive through a lot of countryside where meadows and sheep pasture break up the patches of forest. In a way, it feels as if you've gone back in time.
A Honeymooner's Paradise
Quiet...secluded...beautiful...there are many words to describe this paradise of a place. My husband lived here as a teenager, and since I had never been,his mother sent us here for our honeymoon. It's a perfect place if you want romance and seclusion, yet there is plenty to do during the day! Artisans, farms, galleries, and outdoor activities like hiking and kayking abound! You'll have no problem filling a few days or more if you are smart enough to visit!
This Island Rocks!!!
Salt Spring Island is the largest of all the Southern Gulf Islands. It's population increase in summer when the holiday homes that dot the island fill.
It has a number of large fresh water lakes and you can swim, kayak, sail, cycle, ride horses or even play golf on Salt Spring.
Salt Springs town centre is called Ganges. It has a number of shops, restaurants and local craft stores.
Salt Spring has a thriving artictic community and they sell their goods/art at a number of stores and galleries on the island. By far the best way to see the local art is at the Saturday "Market in the Park". This market features wares from local artists, craftspeople and farmers. The market runs from April to October and is a bit of Salt Spring not to be missed (see my shopping page).
"Getting There and Away"
The ride to and from Salt Spring on the BC Ferries (250-386-3431 or 888-223-3779) is a great way to see the gulf. This is by far the best way to get to and from the island.
If you have less time (and more money) you can use a seaplane. Salt Spring Seair (800-447-3247), Harbour Air (800-665-0212) or Pacific Spirit Air (800-665-2359) all serve Salt Spring. A one-way ticket is about $60 Canadian.
It is best to have a car (or mode of transport on Salt Spring), but you can hitch a ride from the ferry into Ganges quite easily.