Summit View at Mount Erskine
Salt Spring Island is a year round destination with a wide variety of unique experiences to offer. Immerse your senses in nature, enjoy idyllic afternoons browsing boutique shops and restaurants, join a creative workshop or rest and restore at a wellness retreat.
We’ve outlined the best thing to do on Salt Spring Island below.
1. Grab Breakfast at Salt Spring Coffee Café and Kitchen
Huevos Rancheros from Salt Spring Island Coffee
Located in the heart of Ganges, this café started out as the original roastery from Salt Spring Coffee back in 1996. The interior is clean and modern with an industrial twist and orders are placed at the counter with prompt service. They offer all the breakfast favorites, healthy options included, that are easily paired with a fresh cup of their organic fair trade coffee! We tried the Huevos Rancheros and it did not disappoint.
2. Stay in Ganges and experience the rich history of Salt Spring Island
Harbour House Hotel
Harbour House Hotel
Established back in 1916, The Harbour House Hotel has been welcoming guests by land and sea for over 100 years. It has recently undergone an extensive renovation with tasteful upgrades. Enjoy the full service restaurant, relax on furnished patios, unwind at the spa, and stay close to all the action in Ganges!
See Rates for Harbour House Hotel
Hastings House Country House Hotel
Hastings House is an elegant and unique country house hotel with 22 acres of waterfront property overlooking Ganges Harbour. It started as a small residential farm and a single manor back in 1939 transforming over the past 83 years into the luxury accommodation it is today.
Enjoy renowned dining and farm to table ingredients from a la cart menus, relax and restore at the Wellspring Spa, or simply take in the natural beauty of Salt Spring in a casual but elegant atmosphere. Hasting House is also available for special event bookings.
See Rates for Hastings House Country Hotel
Salt Spring Inn
Salt Spring Island Inn
Salt Spring Inn is a charming, well run hotel located in the heart of Ganges, just steps away from boutique shops, restaurants and cafes. Locally owned, they have been welcoming guests for over 75 years – with personable staff and attention to detail it is clear they take pride in their hotel and guest experience.
They offer 7 tastefully appointed guest rooms, affordable prices and a popular dining room on the main floor.
3. Indulge in some artisan local bread and pastries
Sandwich and Danish from Francis Bread
The ever so popular Francis Bread is a must try if you happen to visit Salt Spring on one of the three days it is open. Specializing in naturally levened (sourdough) bread and delicious pastries, they are rooted deep in the old traditions of bread making.
They also have a variety of take away goodies – baguette sandwiches, popsicles, brownies and cookies for purchase. We would highly recommend pre-ordering online the day before as there is always a line and they sell out quickly.
Embe Bakery, located on the outskirts of Ganges, is a no fuss no frills bakery loved by all Salt Spring locals. They have been in business for decades with an impressive assortment of treats, savory snacks, breakfast items, sandwiches, ice cream and even whole cakes available for sale or pre-order. Grab a fresh baked Chopenhagen at 7am and a cup of coffee to start your day off right.
4. Join the locals at Moby’s Pub
Patio Views at Moby’s Pub
If you ask anyone around town where to grab a drink on a Friday or Saturday night they will point you towards Moby’s. Tucked into the north end of Ganges Harbour they serve traditional pub fare accompanied with live music, sports games, foosball tables and trivia, depending on the night.
In the summer months their seasonal outdoor patio overlooking Ganges Harbour is a great spot to enjoy a cold beer.
5. Stop by a farm stand
Organic Farm Stand
Salt Spring is known for its green thumb and there is no shortage of roadside farm stands if you’re visiting during summer. The locals are passionate about what they do and the produce is almost always organic.
Most stands will offer crunchy runner beans, fresh salad mix, fragrant garlic, and berries to name a few. One of our favorite stands is at Laughing Apple Farm on Beddis Road.
6. Rent kayaks and paddle to Chocolate Beach (Third Sister Island)
Chocolate Beach is a little slice of paradise in the middle of Ganges Harbour. The sandy white seashell beach is on the north tip of Third Sister Island and is the perfect destination for a kayak outing. Kayak rentals start at $45 for two hours and are available at: Salt Spring Adventures, BEACHSiDE
Kayak Tours are offered at: BEACHSiDE, Kayak Salt Spring
Check out more about Salt Spring and other rental rates here
7. Hike Mount Erskine and see the fairy doors
Fairy Door on Mount Erskine
Mount Erskine lies directly east of Ganges and provides expansive views of Vancouver Island from Cowichan Bay to Crofton at the summit (450m above sea level). There are 5 marked routes on the mountain with trail maps at most trail junctions.
Be prepared for a steep uphill climb from any of the access points and keep your eyes peeled along the way. You might just spot one of the 4 fairy doors carved and painted by locals! The forest plays into the magical theme with gnarled trees and moss covered floors.
We opted for the easiest route up off Juniper Place through Trustees Trail. The trailhead starts at 245m so half the work is already done for you. We did a loop up route #2 to the summit and down route #3 to Trustees Trail. Total time was about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Do you enjoy hiking? check out the East Sooke Park hike Here!
8. Explore Fernwood Point Beach
Fernwood Point Government Warf at low tide
Fernwood Point Beach is on the west side of Salt Spring at the junction of Fernwood and Walker Hook Road. The beach is relatively rocky but at low tide you can walk out onto the sandy mud flats and explore the sea life, live sand dollars, sea stars, hermit crabs, and moon snails.
At high tide you can stroll down the iconic bright red government wharf and peer down into the small schools of fish in the water below. Grab a quick bite or a coffee at the Fernwood Road Café before you go.
9. Experience the salt springs of Salt Spring Island
Yes, you read that right. There are actual salt springs on Salt Spring Island, located within the private property of the Mineral Springs Resort, just up the road from Fernwood Point Beach. Book a stay at the resort and you can immerse yourself in the healing properties of the mineral water rich in magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium.
10. Check out the Northern tip of the Island at Southey Point Beach
Southy Point and low tide
At the northern most tip of Salt Spring is Southy Point Beach, a sneaky swim and hangout spot with some of the warmest waters on the Island. It is more of a rocky cove than a beach and parking is sparse (only 6-8 spots) but it is definitely worth a visit.
11. Visit a Lavender Farm
Lavender field at Lavender & Black
Lavender & Black
At the north end of Salt Spring is Lavender & Black, a tranquil organic lavender farm that offers a unique experience of farm, shop, and distillery. Started in 2016 the owners are passionate about what they do, specializing in natural products for vitality, sleep health, and skin care. Take a tour of the farm with the owners then stroll through the fields of lavender and immortelle.
Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm
At the south end of Salt Spring is Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm. They are open for self-guided tours of the fields & shop in the summer months & have as many as 60 variety’s of organic lavender growing. Since 2001 they have been distilling their own essential oils and offer a wide variety of lavender plants, spa and culinary products in their shop.
12. Enjoy the best patio views with fish and chips
the Seaside restaurant has been the go to fish and chips spot on Salt Spring Island for decades. They have a prime spot with a stilted patio overlooking Vesuvius Bay. Try their famous fish and chips or simply grab a pint and enjoy the views.
13. Take a dip in St. Mary Lake
Public beach and floating dock at St. Mary Lake
St. Mary Lake is the largest lake on Salt Spring Island and is a great spot for a refreshing dip in the summer months. Although most of the lakefront is on private property you can still enjoy the warm clean water for a swim from the public beach off North End Road.
Parking is a quick pull over on the roadside and the beach is small and pebbly with a small strip of grass shaded by a tree. There is a public floating dock to swim out to. We recommend bringing a fold out chair if you want to stay a while!
14. Sip and snack at Salt Spring Wild Cider House
Salt Spring Wild Cider enjoyed on a picnic bench
Salt Spring Wild Cider has a beautiful cidery and orchard open for cider sampling in their lounge, outdoor patio or picnic areas. They make craft wild cider from the 450 apples varieties found all over the Island.
Apple farming is deeply rooted in Salt Spring, once being the largest producer of Apple in BC. Some of the trees are over 100 years old!
Bask in the sun while enjoying a cider flight and some appy plates of cheese and charcuterie. Their menu also features larger plates with the likes of lamb shank and spaghetti aglio e olio – sharing is encouraged.
15. Check out the Saturday Market
Farm stand at Salt Spring Saturday Market
The ever growing open air market in the heart of Ganges is a must see when visiting Salt Spring. It draws in thousands of visitors every April to October, eager to purchase fresh organic produce, local crafts, and works of art from the local vendors.
There are a variety of delicious food stalls to grab a quick bite or early morning coffee as you browse through the 120 vendors. Some of our favorite snacks are the sprout wraps from Salt Spring Sprouts and pork pot stickers from Rainbow Potstickers.
The market is open at 9am-4pm from April through October. We recommend catching an early ferry to avoid the crowds.
We’ve outlined how to get to Salt Spring Island here.
16. Stay at Cusheon Lake Resort
Morning dock at Cusheon Lake Resort
Situated on a 68 acre peninsula at the second largest lake on Salt Spring Island, Cusheon Lake Resort offers the perfect escape from daily stresses to relax and recharge. They have 14 unique log cabins and 2 cedar chalets all equipped with a full kitchen and lakefront view.
Since 1970 they have been providing exceptional hospitality and a welcoming experience to their guests in a tranquil and picturesque setting.
Your stay includes use of all the property amenities – 2 walkout docks with seating, one floating dock, stand-up paddle boards and canoes, outdoor BBQ area, and a hot tub. The 14 log cabins each have a fireplace stocked with wood. Winter rates are as low as $135/night for a 1 bedroom cabin. Pets are welcome in the off season.
Check out the super affordable rates for Cusheon Lake Resort Here!
17. Camp at Ruckle Park
Walk-in camp site at Ruckle Park
Located on the southeast tip of Salt Spring, Ruckle Park is a 1,300 acre farm turned provincial park in 1972. They have RV and walk-in camp sites with views out into Swanson channel. Post up for an afternoon and watch the ferries and boats pass by or Explore the 7km of shoreline.
Everything to know about camping at Ruckle Park can be found Here!
18. Watch the sunrise at Beddis Beach
Beddis Beach (at sunset)
Facing east over Captains Passage towards Prevost Island, Beddis Beach is a great spot to get some morning sun. The white crushed shells make it one of the most popular beaches on Salt Spring, great for all ages and pets alike. It is only a short 250m strip of shoreline and the water is cold but it is well worth a visit. Access and parking is at the end of Beddis Road.
19. E-Bike or scooter around salt spring
The winding roads of Salt Spring make it extra fun to explore by e-bike or scooter. Zip around Salt Spring on two wheels exploring ocean coves, farms, art studios, cideries and much more. We recommend an assisted bike or scooter due to the steep elevation.
All you need to know about rentals Here!
20. Taste the artisan goat cheese at Salt Spring Island Cheese
Selection at Salt Spring Island Cheese
Salt Spring Island Cheese is iconic, supplying the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island and the mainland with hand made, pure goat milk cheeses since 1996. Family owned and operated their farm and cheese factory is an experience in itself.
They have delicious wood fired pizza, velvety ice cream, and a cheese tasting room to sample before you purchase. There is outdoor seating to enjoy your goodies next to the goats grazing in the pasture and you can even take a peek into the cheese factory through the display windows.