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3 days on Salt Spring Island: what to see, eat and do (day 1)

3 days on Salt Spring Island: what to see, eat and do (day 1)
3 days on Salt Spring Island: what to see, eat and do (day 1)

Salt Spring Island is one of the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. It is the perfect long weekend getaway: coastal scenery, moderate climate, beaches, hiking, farm to table food, and laid back vibe. 

A few weeks ago, my friend Angela and I were talking about how neither of us had been to Salt Spring Island since we were kids. Always up for an adventure, we planned a trip to the island for the August long weekend. We managed to eat our way through Salt Spring Island and fill our days with exploring almost every inch of the island and outdoor adventures.

Spending 3 days on Salt Spring Island? Here is what to see, eat, and do: Day 1. 

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How to get to Salt Spring Island from Vancouver

BC Ferries

The most popular way to get to Salt Spring Island from Vancouver is to take the ferry from Tsawwassen. There are very few direct ferry trips there. Be sure to make a reservation in advance if you are bringing your car regardless of what route you take. First, we took a 1.5 hour ferry ride from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay in Victoria. Then, we literally drove out of the ferry terminal and back in to catch a 35 minute ferry ride to Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island.

We quickly discovered Salt Spring Island has 3 ferry terminals: Fulford Harbour, Long Harbour, and Vesuvius Bay.

Make sure you confirm which ferry terminal you are departing from. On the way home, we took a direct ferry ride from Long Harbour to Tsawwassen. During the ferry ride, I love going outside on the deck to take pictures and watch for whales. If you want to splurge pay $12 to access the Seawest Lounge: comfy seating, quiet and relaxed atmosphere, and free snacks.

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Float Plane

Another option is to take a float plane to Salt Spring Island via Harbour Air or Salt Spring Air. You fly directly into Ganges Harbour but it is generally more expensive than taking the ferry. It is also very useful to have a car on the island so that is something else to consider.

Where to stay 

Salt Spring Inn (132 Lower Ganges Road)

Accommodations are somewhat limited on Salt Spring Island. There are a number of bed and breakfasts, but many of them are actually located in the middle of the forest and book up quickly. Airbnb is another option, but most of the places we found accommodated 4 people or more or were very expensive. Angela found a great deal at the Salt Spring Inn in the centre of town and booked us in.

The inn was lovely and small, there are only 7 rooms. The room are very small, but fortunately we were not spending much time there. Most of the rooms are shared washrooms, which at first scared me a little. But I never ran into anyone else using the washroom or had to wait for the shower. Everything was very clean and the staff was friendly.

Day 1: what to see, eat and do

Lunch at Barb’s Bakery and Bistro

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Once we arrived in downtown Ganges, our first order of business was lunch. We walked to Barb’s Bakery & Bistro, definitely a local favourite. The bistro was packed but spacious so we quickly found a seat. I had the flavourful green curry (vegan and gluten free) and Angela had the artisan greens topped with a huge piece of ahi tuna. We both loved the lean mean greenie juice (cucumber, celery, apple, spinach, parsley, mint, lime, ginger).

Alternative: Lunch at Cafe Talia

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We stopped in the lovely Cafe Talia to check out the lunch menu. There weren’t a ton of options, but the sandwiches, salads, and baked goods looked good.

Frequently picked up produce and groceries at Thrifty Foods Grocery Store

Salt Spring Inn is conveniently located across the street from Thrifty Foods. We made several stops there throughout the weekend to pick up locally-sourced produce and other groceries. They also carry some drugstore items should you need anything.

Alternative: visit the farm stands throughout the island

During our adventures, we passed so many farm stands on the side of the road. Literally, we did not go a few minutes without passing one. Bring a cooler with you and pick up farm fresh produce along the way to your adventures.

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Browsed the shelves of Salt Spring Natureworks Natural Food Store

We couldn’t resist stopping in one of the local health food stores after spotting a gorgeous display of healthy cookbooks and fresh produce out front. I loved Natureworks array of bulk foods, herbs and spices, and superfoods to add to your smoothie.

Standup paddle-boarding (SUP) with Salt Spring Adventures

After checking into our hotel, we walked 10 minutes to Salt Spring Adventures for an afternoon of standup paddle-boarding. We were quickly briefed on SUP, provided lifejackets, handed maps, and were off. I have done SUP in Vancouver, but this was even better. We paddled out to several small islands and a nature reserve, spotting seals along the way. It was a great way to see Salt Spring Island from a different perspective.

Shopping in Ganges: Salt Boutique

Before dinner we explored some of the shops in downtown Ganges. I loved the local clothing and goods at Salt Boutique, conveniently located next to a very popular taco food truck.

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Seafood Dinner with a view at Seaside Restaurant

We drove 15 minutes outside of downtown Ganges for dinner at Seaside Restaurant. If you go be sure to request a spot on the patio. The ocean views are lovely. The food was good, the seafood was fresh, and the salads were huge, always a win in my books.

Scenic sunset drive: Salt Spring Adventure Map Route

While shopping at Salt Boutique, the woman working there provided some great advice on what to do in the evening. She recommended following the scenic way home from Seaside Restaurant and I am so glad we took her advice. For directions, we followed the route on the Salt Spring Adventure Map, stopping at the beach access points they note and Fernwood Point for plenty of pictures.

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Stay tuned for day 2 of our eats and adventures. 

Have you been to Salt Spring Island before? Have you tried standup paddle-boarding?

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