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Everything to Know about Salt Spring Island

Boats in Ganges Harbour

Where is Salt Spring Island?

Salt Spring Island is located on the West Coast of Canada between Vancouver Island and Mainland British Columbia, in the Strait of Georgia. Of the 10 major Southern Gulf Islands in BC, it is the largest and most inhabited. 

The Island is accessible via BC Ferries and is a quick 25-35 minute ride from Vancouver Island or a 1 hour and 25 minute ride from Vancouver.


How Big is Salt Spring Island?

Salt Spring Island encompasses 183 square kilometers (71 square miles), and is roughly 28 km (17 miles) long and varying from 3-13 km (2-8 miles) wide. Over 10,000 people call Salt Spring home and over 33,000 tourists visit each year.

It takes approximately 45 minutes to drive from one end of Salt Spring Island to the other.


Is Salt Spring Island Worth Visiting?

Yes! Salt Spring Island is 100% worth visiting. It 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, join a creative workshop or rest and restore at a wellness retreat. 

Wondering what to do on Salt Spring Island? Check out the best things to do on Salt Spring Island.

Low Tide at Southy Point Beach


How to get to Salt Spring Island?

Salt Spring is accessible by ferry or by seaplane. BC Ferries services the island from three  terminals and is the primary mode of transportation to and from the Island. Two seaplane companies, Harbour Air and Seair Seaplanes, have daily flights into Ganges Harbour.


BC Ferry Routes:

Ferry departing from Fulford Harbour


Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to Salt Spring Island (Long Harbour)

Scheduled ferry routes run 4 times a day in the summer. Most of the scheduled sailings are a milk run and stop at other Gulf Islands such as Galiano, Mayne and Pender. The Ferry takes both vehicles and passengers.

  • 1 hour and 25 minutes for non-stop sailing 
  • Up to 3 hours for the milk run to Galiano, Mayne and Pender
  • Reservations are available on this route and are recommended
  • Price for a vehicle and driver is roughly $90 one way


There is also the option to ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (Victoria) then Swartz Bay to Fulford Harbour (Salt Spring). This route takes approximately 4.5 hours. Be sure to notify the agent at the Tsawwassen ticket booth that you are traveling thru fare to Salt Spring. Connections are not guaranteed. 

BC Ferries Schedule: Tsawwassen – Long Harbour 


Victoria (Swartz Bay) to Salt Spring Island (Fulford Harbour)

scheduled ferry route runs 7-9 times per day in the summer months. It is a non-stop route and takes both vehicles and passengers.

  • 35 minute non-stop sailing  
  • Reservations are not available 
  • Fares from Swartz Bay are for round trip sailing.
  • There is no ticket booth at Fulford Harbour 
  •  Price for a vehicle and driver is approximately $45 (round trip) 


BC Ferries Schedule: Swartz Bay – Fulford Harbour


The Crofton to Salt Spring Island (Vesuvius Bay)

scheduled ferry route runs 12-13 times per day in the summer months. It is a non-stop route and takes both vehicles and passengers.

  • 25 minute non-stop sailing 
  • Reservations are not available
  • Price for a vehicle and driver is approximately $45 (round trip)

BC Ferries Schedule: Crofton – Vesuvius Bay


Seaplane Routes:

Harbour Air seaplane docked in Ganges Harbour

Harbour Air

Harbour Air provides frequently scheduled flights between Vancouver, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast, Whistler and Seattle. Direct flights to Salt Spring (Ganges Harbour) are from Vancouver Harbour or Richmond (YVR South) and fly 4-5 times per day. Prices vary but expect to pay $120 to $210 one way per person.

Check prices and schedules here: Harbour Air Flights 


Seair Seaplanes

Seair offers routes between Richmond (YVR South), the Gulf Islands, Nanimo and Vancouver Harbour. Direct flights to Salt Spring (Ganges Harbour) are from Richmond (YVR South) and fly 3 times per day. Expect to pay $95 to $150 one way per person.

Check prices and schedules here: Seair Seaplane Flights


How to get to Salt Spring from the States by car?

To get to Salt Spring Island from the States by car you will need to take a ferry. There are three ferry routes depending on what area of the States you are traveling from.


Anacortes/Sidney BC Ferry

The Anacortes Ferry connects Washington State to Vancouver Island via Sidney BC (30 minute drive north of Victoria BC). Due to staffing shortages this route is unavailable for spring/summer 2022 and sailings will resume in 2023.

  • Takes vehicles and passengers
  • 2 hours 45 minute sailing time
  • 1 daily round-trip sailings between Sidney and Anacortes, (stops in Friday Harbour, San Juan Islands)
  • Vehicle reservations required for this route

Ferry Schedule is found here: Washington State Transportation Schedule 

After arriving in Sidney BC the Swartz Bay ferry terminal connecting Victoria to Salt Spring Island is a short 10 minute drive away. The Swartz Bay to Salt Spring Island ferry is outlined above.


Port Angeles / Downtown Victoria (Coho Ferry)

Black Ball Ferry Line operates the Coho Ferry which runs from Port Angeles, Washington to downtown Victoria, BC. It is the most direct crossing between the States and Vancouver Island and crosses the strait of Juan de Fuca.

  • 1 hour and 30 minute sailing 
  • Takes vehicles and passengers 
  • For a vehicle and driver $76 USD
  • Runs 3-4 sailings per day throughout the year

Ferry Schedule and Fares found here: Coho Ferry Schedule 

After arriving in Victoria, drive to the Swartz Bay ferry terminal (45 minutes north of downtown) The Swartz Bay to Salt Spring Island ferry is outlined above.


BC Ferries from Vancouver to Salt Spring

If you travel into Canada by car over the border you can catch BC Ferries from Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to Salt Spring (Long Harbour) outlined above.   


Does Salt Spring Island have an Airport?

Salt Spring Island does not have a land based airport. If you want to travel to Salt Spring by air there are two seaplane companies, Harbour Air and Seair Seaplanes, that have direct routes from Vancouver to Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring. 


Can you Make Reservations on the Ferry to Salt Spring?

You cannot make reservations on BC Ferries from Vancouver Island (Swartz Bay or Crofton) to Salt Spring. No reservations are available departing from Salt Spring to Vancouver Island via Vesuvius or Fulford Harbour.

You can make reservations for the Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to Salt Spring (Long Harbour) route and they are recommended. 


What is Salt Spring Island known for?

Salt Spring Island is known for its infamous Saturday Market, drawing in swaths of tourists to Ganges every weekend from April through October, but there is much more to discover on the  Island.

There is a vibrant arts and craft scene, unique boutique shops, art galleries along with hiking, kayaking, wine tours and farm tours. 

Farmers stand at the Saturday Market

Where to camp on Salt Spring Island?

There are three places to camp on Salt Spring Island, one public campground regulated by BC Parks and two private campgrounds. 

Walk-in campsites at Ruckle Park

Ruckle Park Campground

By far the most popular campsite on Salt Spring is the Provincially owned Ruckle Park. Originally started as a homestead in 1872 the land was farmed by the Ruckle family until it was donated in 1972 to the Province. 

There is still an active farm on the land, operated by the family, and 3 historic homes are available to book through Air BnB if you are not so inclined to camp. Check them out here

Ruckle Park has a total of 86 campsites, 8 sites for recreation vehicles or campers and 78 walk-in campsites. Campsite reservations are accepted and must be made through the BC Parks reservation system

Amenities include group campfire rings, drinking water from March 16 to October 31, picnic areas, pit toilets, senior’s rates, and group camping options.  

Vehicle Accessible Camping

  • Total of 8 gravel RV sites (no hook-ups)
  • Located in forested area away from shoreline
  • 4 are reservable, 4 are first come first served basis
  • Rates are $20 per party/night
  • Winter camping is $10 per party/night
  • All 8 RV campsites in winter are first-come first-served


Walk in Camping

  • Total of 78 walk-in campsites
  • 20 sites have tent pads, 10 are reservable
  • 58 non-designated sites on first-come first-served basis
  • Located along the edge of the forest and in the grassy field on shoreline
  • 5 minute walk from the parking lot
  • Rates are $20 per party/night


Mowhinna Creek Campground

This private campground is nestled into the woods off Fulford-Ganges Road, 2 km south of Ganges Harbour. A convenient location close to all the action and steps away from the local bus route. Amenities for the summer season include:

  • RV sites with water, power and septic hook-ups ($45-50/night)
  • Walk-in tent sites ($35/night)
  • Drive-in tent sites ($40/night)
  • 2 unfurnished sleeping cabins with power and water ($65/night)
  • Flush toilets, WiFi, Playground


Bookings can be made through their website


Garden Faire Campground

Located just 1 km west of Ganges on Rainbow Road, this campsite offers the unique Salt Spring experience, with lots of character and creative spaces. It is situated on the edge of Mouat Park,  an old growth forest with off-leash walking trails, and accommodates RVs and walk-in tent sites.

Rates for the summer months:

  • Walk-in campsite ($35/night)
  • RV site unserviced ($50/night)
  • RV site serviced ($55/night)
  • Rent-a-Tent with 2 double beds (bring your own bedding $55/night)


Check out their website for bookings. 


Are there Salt Springs on Salt Spring Island?

There are 14 salt springs located within the private property of Mineral Springs Resort on the northeast end of Salt Spring Island. You can experience the healing properties of the spring water, rich in magnesium, calcium and potassium, while staying at the resort.   


Are there Bears on Salt Spring Island?

There are no resident bears on Salt Spring Island but there have been a few bear sightings on the south end of the island. An occasional bear may travel over from Vancouver Island. The same can be said about wolves and cougars.


Salt Spring Island Without a Car

Depending on the type of trip and experiences you are hoping to enjoy, Salt Spring Island is very doable without a car. Get a ride on the public bus system, rent a scooter or e-bike, cycle over, get accommodation that comes with a complimentary shuttle, take a tour, hire a taxi, or if you’re up to it… hitch a ride! 


Public Transit

BC Transit has 9 Routes across Salt Spring Island connecting Ganges to the 3 BC Ferry terminals, and additional routes to the north and south ends of the island. Buses to and from the ferries are timed around ferry arrival and departures

Public transit is a viable option to get around Salt Spring if you are planning to stay near Ganges or have extra time to spare while exploring other parts of the Island. 

There is a twice daily route from Fulford Harbor to Ruckle Park in the summer months.

Check out the BC Transit Map and Schedule here for Salt Spring. 


Scooter Rental

There are two scooter rental options in Salt Spring, both located within walking distance of Ganges. Scooter rentals are available for pre-booking and it is highly recommended to book in advance if visiting during the busy summer months.

Salt Spring Car and Scooter Rentals

  • Single or double Honda and Yamaha scooters
  •  24 hour rental from $120-140 depending on size
  • Must be 21 or older with no license restrictions
  • Available for 2, 4, 8, and 24-hours

For booking and prices check out their website here.


Salt Spring Adventures

  • Single or double Honda and Yamaha scooters
  •  24 hour rental from $120-130 depending on size
  • Must be 19+ with valid license
  • Credit card required for damage deposit  
  • Available for 4, 8, 24, and 48+ hours

For booking and prices check out their website here. 


Bicycle or E-Bicycle Rentals 

Speaking strictly in kms, Salt Spring Island appears fairly accessible by bike but if you are not an avid biker we would recommend renting an e-bike to explore the farther reaches of the Island. The roads are notoriously winding with steep grades and no shoulders to accommodate bikers. Be prepared for a workout if renting a standard bike. 

Bicycle on path in woods

Bike Rentals are available at Salt Spring Adventures with a 24-speed bike starting at $40 per 4 hours. For booking and prices check out their website here

E-Bike Rentals are available at OutSpokin’ Bike Shop, and if you fall in love with your E-Bike brand new E-Bikes are available for purchase! 4-hour rentals starting at $60. We recommend booking well in advance for the summer months as E-Bike rentals are very popular. For booking and prices check out their website here


Free Shuttle with Accommodation 

If you are traveling without a car you may choose to stay at a hotel or Bed & Breakfast that offers complimentary shuttle service to and from. Hastings House, conveniently located in the heart of Salt Spring and a short walk away from Ganges Harbour, offers complimentary shuttle services with accommodation. 

Some B & B’s on the Island also offer this service. Be sure to ask before you book.


Book a Tour

Tour Salt Spring offers guided land based tours including wine and sightseeing tours and provides pick-up from ferry terminals and any accommodation part of the Salt Spring Island Accommodation Group.

Check out their tours here. 

Grapes on vine at sunny Vineyard

Hire A Taxi

There are two options for Taxi service in Salt Spring:

Silver Shadow Taxi – 250-537-3030 (Service from Fulford to Ganges approximately $40)

Amber Cabs – 250-537-3277


Hitch a Ride 

Hitchhiking has been a staple mode of transportation for locals on Salt Spring Island for many years. There are recognized pick-up spots around the island that many locals utilize, even to get to work! Unlike other places in Canada, it is not an unusual site to see hitchhikers sticking their thumbs out as you drive across the Island.

It is important to note that although hitchhiking is not illegal, it is not endorsed by the Ministry of Transportation. 

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