For a weekend getaway that feels exotic but is quintessentially Pacific Northwest, you need to pay a visit to Salt Spring Island. From breweries to organic farms, water activities to mountain lookouts, there’s something for everyone. I recently shared my top picks on things to do on Salt Spring Island. Today I’ll be sharing the ultimate Salt Spring Island Travel guide covering the basics of your perfect trip.
How to Get Here
The two main ways to get to Salt Spring Island are via ferry and air.
Coming from Vancouver, the BC Ferry route to take is from Tsawwassen to Long Harbour. There are only 3 sailings per day that are non stop (1 hour and 20 minutes). The remaining sailings makes short stops at nearby gulf islands like Galiano and Pender. For two people and one vehicle, the total roundtrip cost is $147.25
From Victoria, you can take BC Ferries from Swartz Bay to Fulford Harbour. The trip is 35 minutes and departs 8 times a day. Fulford Harbour is on the southeast side of the island and is actually close to many attractions like the winery and brewery.
The other way to get to Salt Spring Island is via float planes on Harbour Air or Sea Air. We chose this option as we were celebrating a special occasion and I’ve never been on a float plane before! It’s a bit more expensive but as we live downtown and don’t own a car, it was a better option. The fares are usually around $120 per person each way but is cheaper if you fly out of YVR instead of downtown Vancouver.
How to Get Around
You definitely need a car to get around Salt Spring Island. During my research I saw bike rental companies but I would not recommend it unless you are very fit and comfortable on a bike. The roads on Salt Spring Island are quite windy and there is a lot of elevation changes.
There are bus routes on the island but honestly during the weekend, I only crossed paths with 2 so they’re not that frequent. We used the only rental car company on the island called Salt Spring Car Rental. We rented the economy class and it was a clean but rather old Ford which was a bit slow on responsiveness. If you are going during the slow season, try reaching out to see if they can offer a more competitive rate.
Where to Stay
There are only a handful of hotels on Salt Spring Island but a whole slew of private B&Bs. From my research, many of the top rates B&Bs are actually not listed on booking.com or hotels.com. To find them, I used google maps and zoomed in on the areas I was interested in and looked from the pink hotel sign.
If you are looking for convenience to the harbour, definitely consider Ganges Village. We stayed at Harbour House Hotel and had a fantastic time. It is affordable, close to “downtown”, comes with free breakfast, and is newly renovated!
Here are a few suggestions for where to stay on Salt Spring Island:
- Stonehouse Bed and Breakfast: This is the most luxurious property on the island!
- Mariner’s Loft: Right in Ganges Village and best for groups of 6. Modern decor and gorgeous views
- Beachfront at Vesuvius: Spacious suite and an outdoor hot tub with panoramic views
- Harbour House Hotel: Great value, perfect location, modern furnishing and free breakfast!
- Salty Pear Camping Casita: Complimentary use of their sauna and very unique accommodation
- Fox Glove Farm: A couple of accommodation options available on their farm!
Where to Eat
On Salt Spring Island, you should make breakfast your most important meal of the day! There are so many great options for brunch and coffee. Before you go, definitely check what each restaurant’s opening hours are. There are several that do not open on Sunday so you’ll want to schedule your meals appropriately.
Here are some of my recommendations on where to eat in Salt Spring Island:
- Barb’s Bakery: Affordable baked goods and smoothies
- Buzzy’s Lunchonette: Montreal smoked meat sandwich!
- Moby’s Pub: Great place to enjoy a more lively atmosphere
- Putin Plus: Poutine
- Salt Spring Wild Cider: Really nice patio with fantastic food to along with the drinks
- Tree House Cafe: Delicious breakfast and a unique building with a tree growing through the middle
- Twig & Buoy: One of the fancier restaurants on the island
How Much Does it Cost
Prices on Salt Spring Island are comparable to medium cities in North America. The accommodation prices fluctuate a lot based on season! In the winter and spring you can easily find a room for $100-$150. However, summer weekends will likely be $200+ and booked out weeks in advance.
Food pricing is average casual dining. Plan to spend about $8 for breakfast, $15 for lunch and $25 for dinner. I loved being able to buy local BC liquor to enjoy back at the hotel. This will cut down on your costs as the places to buy drinks are straight from the brewery/winery/cidery or at the liquor store. If you are planning on cooking some meals, groceries are not more expensive than downtown Vancouver.
Here’s a breakdown of a 2 night weekend trip budget:
Other Activities: $100
Total: $930 or $465 each
How Many Days Should I Plan
We went for 3 days and it was the perfect amount of time! You can definitely do it in 2 days as well but it depends on the things you want to do. Since we went in March, we were limited by the operating hours of many businesses and can only fit in our activities between noon and 4pm. However, if you go during the summer time, businesses will be open for longer.
My suggestion on how many days to stay in Salt Spring Island:
- Half day in Ganges Village combined with Salt Spring Wild Cider and other businesses in the central area.
- Quarter day drive out to the north. You can stop by Fernwood Point Beach which has a nice pier.
- Quarter day for Mt.Erskine hike. It takes about 1.5 hours to get to the top.
- 3/4 Day to visit Southeast side of the island including Salt Spring Vineyard, Salt Spring Island Ales, Salt Spring Cheese, and Ruckle Provincial Park.
- Quarter day for other activities that may interest you such as water sports, or the Salty Pear Sauna, or the Spa Ritual at Solace.