Top Things To Do on Salt Spring Island, B.C.
Salt Spring Island is the largest of the Southern Gulf Islands and is located off the Southeastern coast of Vancouver Island. It is approximately 18 miles long and varies from 2 to 10 miles wide. There are almost 500 miles of road winding past lakes, across farmlands, and through wooded areas with frequent views of the ocean, other islands, and the mainland mountains.
Salt Spring Island offers all the attractions and charm which have made the Gulf Islands of British Columbia so very popular. Visitors come from far and wide for the Saturday Salt Spring Market, the farm tours, winery tours, the many art galleries and the unique local arts and crafts.
Overlooking Fulford Harbour is the tiny stone Roman Catholic St. Paul’s Church, built between 1880 and 1883. The church can be viewed from the ferry when sailing into Fulford Harbour.
Salt Springs: The 14 salt springs located on private property on the north end of the island are the only springs in the Gulf Islands. The springs vary in size from one metre to 25 metres in diameter.
Akerman Museum in the Fulford Valley houses artifacts of local history dating back hundreds of years. Thousands of items exhibit the native culture and pioneer history of Salt Spring, a tribute to the early settlers of the island. The private museum is open to the public and well worth a visit.
Farms & Farmers’ Markets: Family farming is firmly rooted in the traditions of Salt Spring Island. The island has over 200 farms, and is widely known for its sheep-raising; be sure to tour the rolling pastures on the north end (visit in the spring, and you’ll never order rack of lamb again).
Bittancourt House Museum illustrates the lives of the early settlers on Salt Spring Island, with displays that include items from the 1880s until the 1950s. All of the items in the museum have been donated by Salt Spring families. The museum is situated in a house built in 1884, displaying artifacts, farming implements and antique equipment on the grounds of the Salt Spring Island Farmers’ Institute at 351 Rainbow Road. This heritage building was built in Vesuvius by Estalon Bittancourt. The house was moved to the grounds of the Farmers Institute in 1980 to be used as a museum, with an addition to the original house built by volunteers in 2007 to accommodate the ongoing donation of additional museum items.
Theatre: Enjoy theatre and live entertainment throughout the year at the ArtSpring Theatre in Ganges, Salt Spring Island’s premier venue for concerts, theatre, exhibitions and much more. Graffiti Theatre Company utilizes the talents of island artists whilst engaging theatre professionals from away to enrich and broaden their work. Consult the local paper, the Gulf Islands Driftwood, for local music performances.
Arts & Crafts: Salt Spring is also known as a centre for arts and crafts. Many local artisans open their studios for tours, including spinners and weavers, sculptors and glass blowers, painters and potters. Studios showcase ceramics, woodcraft, jewellery, furniture, metal craft, stained glass, moulded candles, wool and fleece products, and many other unique island products.
Artcraft is located in the historic Mahon Hall near the harbour in downtown Ganges, featuring works by more than 200 Gulf Island artists and artisans. Open daily from May through to September.
Salt Spring Studio Tour is a unique self-guided visit to over 30 resident properties of artists and artisans showcasing their individual talents and creations for your enjoyment and purchase. Watch an artist paint, attend a wine tasting, try on some jewellery or save time to pick up a one-of-a-kind sculpture on your way home. If you want to savour all that Salt Spring has to offer, nothing compares to the mix of art and creativity you can enjoy on the island’s famous Studio Tour. Pick up a current Studio Tour Map from the Visitor Centre in Ganges.
Disc Golf: Once a popular camping location, a picturesque Disc Golf course – also called Frisbee Golf – now occupies the old camping oval at the 23-hectare Mouat Regional Park, located behind ArtSpring, just a short walk uphill from Ganges.
Ruckle Farm is a prime attraction on the island, located 10 km west of Fulford Harbour at the end of Beaver Point Road. In addition to the fine hiking and camping at Ruckle Provincial Park, visitors are welcome at the heritage Ruckle Farm, the oldest continually operating farm in British Columbia. The farm features a number of old farm buildings, including a barn, a forge, the old pig sty, and the original homestead residence. The big orchard barn has open access to visitors, with the schedule posted at the site. Other buildings are available for viewing from the outside only. The park has a day-use picnic area. Continue straight on the main park road passed the campground turnoff to the day-use parking lot.
Even non-shoppers will enjoy historic Mouat’s Mall in Ganges, a rickety white-and-green building where you can browse a fine collection of arts and crafts. After browsing the galleries, walk down to the water for lunch.
Island Hopping: Travelling between the Southern Gulf Islands and Northern Gulf Islands can be accomplished in small hops. Each of these islands is a world unto itself, each with its own history, culture and colourful characters – each island deserves at least a day or two for exploring.