A short 20-minute ferry ride from Vancouver brings you to the picturesque island of Salt Spring. Known for its laid back lifestyle, artistic residents, wineries, craft fairs and an abundance of locally grown produce. Did you know they even have their own currency and the locals will often hitchhike to get from one end of the island to the other as public transport is so sparse! It’s a great place to visit with a family and there are heaps of things to do to keep you active, from hikes leading to the most incredible views across the Gulf Islands to plenty of sheltered bays for kayaking trips.
Here’s my Top 5 Things to do on Salt Spring Island…
Mt Maxwell Provincial Park – is this the best view on Salt Spring?
Mount Maxwell Provincial Park is home to Baynes Peak, the highest point on Salt Spring Island. From the 588m summit, you can look down upon the picturesque Fulford Harbour, across to the Gulf Islands and beyond to the snow-capped peak of Hurricane Ridge, just north of Seattle. There are heaps of well maintained hiking trails in this area.
Note the gravel road leading up Mount Maxwell is steep and narrow. Many local taxis won’t take you on this route and if you’re driving yourself, it’s worth opting for a 4×4.
- Detailed info on Mt Maxwell hiking routes.
- Challenge yourself with the Grouse Grind on Vancouver’s North Shore.
Look out for the teeny fairy houses on Mt Erskine
A semi-steep 1.7km trail (one way) through the forest leads you another of Salt Spring Island’s most spectacular viewpoints looking across the Gulf Islands towards Vancouver Island. As you follow the trail, look out for the tiny fairy doors hidden in the tree trunks and foliage; making this a great walk to enjoy with kids!
Start from the turnaround at the end of Trustees’ Trail. Look out for the trail head sign and follow the path between the trees. As the forest starts to open up, you’ll be treated to a blanket of moss, ancient tree trunks and a canopy of green overhead; this is a great option if it’s a hot sunny day as much of the path is sheltered. Follow the trail up and before you know it you’ll have reached the peak – a flat mountainous outcrop perfect for a lunch stop.
- Full guide from Salt Spring Market.
Go wildlife watching whilst kayaking in Ganges Harbour
The safe and calm waters of Ganges Harbour offer an easy paddle along the shoreline of this beautiful island. Keep your eyes peeled for harbour seals, sea lions, eagles and a whole host of other wildlife. It’s the perfect family activity.
If you’re a keen kayaker and have a bit of time on your hands, many of the local kayaking companies offer multi-day adventure tours taking you deep into the Canadian wilderness. Chances are you’ll be sea kayaking alongside whales on their annual migration, and may even spot a bear along the shores.
The only thing holding us back was money. Kayaking in Canada is pricey when compared to Asia and even Europe so do your research.
We kayaked with Salt Spring Adventure Co. and couldn’t fault their service.
Cycle 35km / 50km to see the best of Salt Spring in a day
There are two cycling loops on the island of varying lengths.
The first is a 35km route starting at Long Harbour Ferry Terminal – travel north towards Southerly Point, across to Vesuvius, take in Salt Spring’s main town of Ganges and finally return back to Long Harbour.
The second is a slightly longer 50km loop which starts and ends in Ganges – take in Fulford Harbour and Ruckle Provincial Park before heading back to the ferry terminal.
These two routes are on fully paved well-maintained roads. Just be wary of traffic as there are no cycle lanes on the island and in the summer months the roads get pretty busy. The great thing is both routes start and finish at Long Harbour Ferry Terminal and so you can simply get a day ticket and be back in Vancouver before dinner.
- Guide to cycling Salt Spring.
- If you’re a keen cycler, then Whistler is another awesome spot to visit.
You MUST check out the famous Saturday Market
OK this isn’t an outdoor activity per-se, but you’re still walking so it is gentle exercise! If like me, you love organic home-grown produce then Salt Spring Market is for you.
Farmers, growers and makers from all around Vancouver attend this weekly market. The only rule is that all products must be ‘vendor produced’ – they must ‘make it, bake it, or grow it’ themselves; a simple rule that makes this market experience so unique.
The market runs every Saturday (April – October).
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