British Columbia’s lower mainland is a busy place. In fact, the entire Pacific Northwest is filled with busy people going to work, going to restaurants, going to the movies and enjoying urban life.
Does that sound exhausting to anyone else?
I love living in Vancouver, but whenever I get a chance to escape and set my mind to exploring something new, something unique; well, I jump at the chance.
A few months ago I had just such an opportunity – a journey to a tiny coastal retreat called Salt Spring Island. Salt Spring was an hour long seaplane ride from Vancouver, but I immediately felt like I was in another country. Suffice to say it was a relaxing trip.
Apart from all of the great things to do in the village of Ganges, here are my top five methods of exploring the wild side of Salt Spring far from the hub of the village.
1. Hiking Maxwell Mountain
The mountain is a favourite of locals and tourists alike, but if you’re looking for a quiet reprieve, the good news is that Salt Spring Island simply doesn’t have a lot of locals relative to the total space on the island.
When you make it to the start of Maxwell’s circuit of trails, make sure you venture off the beaten path. The forest on the mountain leading up to the summit is an adventure straight from the pages of a fantasy novel.
Just be careful though. The mountain rises far from sea level; there are precarious peaks and ledges along the edge of the trails.
Oh yeah, before you go, askthe locals about how to find thefairy ring. You’ll see why.
2. Ruckle Park
Ruckle Park is a combination campsite and day-use park on the furthest southern tip of Salt Spring Island. Adventurers can look for starfish and other marine life between the rocks while simultaneously searching for seals and whales off-shore. If you have a day or two you can watch the glorious sunset and fall asleep to the sound of lapping waves by camping on the soft grass just up from the beach,
3. On The Water
Because Salt Spring is such a small island, kayaking and canoe tours are an excellent way to see the local scenery from a different perspective. Not only will you get a good workout, you’ll do so outside beneath the brilliant coastal sun. Plus, you’ll work up an appetite and have plenty of options for dining once you get back to the dock.
4. Whale-watching Tours
The raw power of the mysterious beasts below the waves is an adventure every human being should experience at some point in their lives. Salt Spring’s whale watching tours gives people a chance to experience wildlife like seabirds, seals, dolphins and of course whales on their turf.
5. Wine Tours & Farms
Heading off the beaten path outside of Ganges gives tourists the opportunity to experience a slower pace of life. The locals living in the Salt Spring countryside are dedicated to the finer things in life, like wine, cheese, environmentally-friendly farming and local art. Many of them sell their wares at the Salt Spring Market on Saturdays throughout the summer, but if you want the authentic experience, renting a car and heading out on a tour is the way to go.
Salt Spring Island has something for everyone, whether you’re setting up shop in town or you’re more of the adventurous sort. The key is to plan not to plan, to go with the flow and turn in whichever direction your spirit moves you.