Ideal PNW Destinations
Salt Spring Island is the quintessential Pacific Northwest getaway! It’s the southern Gulf Island along the Strait of Georgia, located in between British Columbia’s mainland, and Vancouver Island. It’s a haven for food lovers, artists, and outdoor enthusiasts.
Janet Clouston, Executive Director of Salt Spring Island Tourism shares, “I love this island because it’s somewhere in between homesteading and urban living. It’s a special existence to live your true life, and learn how to be self-sufficient.” With 10,502 local residents, the Salt Spring self-governing community is tight knit and co-exist peacefully on this island.
When visiting the PNW, Salt Spring Island is the ideal holiday for families, friends and anyone seeking…
- Outdoor adventures and connecting with nature
- Arts and culture
- Health, wellness and spirituality
- Agritourism and a culinary farm to table experience
Sharing our list of PNW destination recommendations on what to do, see, where to stay, dine & spa on Salt Spring Island.
What to do in the PNW?
Explore the Island:
We spent most of our time driving the island roads, hiking trails, visiting art galleries and farm stands on Salt Spring. Also, enjoyed relaxing at Hastings House and Stonehouse during our stay.
Hike Mt. Maxwell, Mt. Erskine & Ruckle Park:
Mt. Maxwell offers stunning views of the island – you can drive or hike up Mt. Maxwell. Be sure to stop at the Mt. Maxwell coffee stand and pick up some roasted coffee beans!
Mt. Erskine is a 1-hour loop that takes hikers through the woods where they find little fairy doors made by a local islander. Children leave shells, letters for the fairies, and this is a very sweet hike for families. Another area to hike is Ruckle Park where visitors bring picnics and enjoy their time along the waterfront.
Kayak Ganges Harbor:
For eco-adventures on and around the island, we heard that Island Escapades offers kayaking, sailing, swimming in the island lakes, fishing, and other activities. One of the most popular outings, is to kayak to Chocolate Beach, a white shell beach on Third Sister Island.
There are whale watching boats that leave Ganges harbor to go whale watching.
Visit Art Galleries:
In Ganges town and around the island, you can visit art galleries and artist studios. We stopped by The Glass Foundry, Blue Horse Folk Art Gallery, The Farmhouse Gallery. We met Jill Louise Campbell, another popular island artist who sells her work at her gallery in town, and the café near the ferry.
Support Farm Stands:
There are 225 working farms on Salt Spring Island, and many farmers sell their produce at farm stands on the roads throughout the island. We found everything from quail eggs, lamb, jam preserves, fruits, vegetables, flowers and other homemade items at the stands we visited. Buyers pay for their items on the “honor system” and put money in the lock box on each of the stands.
Two unique cheese tasting experiences where you can experience the rustic self-serve tasting at Moonstruck Organic Cheese.
Another was a guided goat cheese tasting with artisan edibles & fine preserves at Salt Spring Island Cheese company.
We met new proprietor Nalini Samuel at Garry Oaks, and Tasting Room Manager Cliff Jones who shared the history of the winery, vineyards, and century-old orchard of apple, pear, plum and cherry trees.
Their wines are hand crafted and estate bottles. Idyllic location on a terraced ten-acre vineyard carved out of the south-facing gravel slopes overlooking the Burgoyne Valley.
Saturday Markets & the Annual Fall Fair:
Every Saturday and Tuesdays, there is a Farmer’s Market at the Ganges town park where farmer’s sell their produce, and vendors sell their goods. Check the Salt Spring Island Calendar for the Annual Fall Fair event where you’ll see Chicken Races, hear Rooster Calling Contests, watch the Zucchini Drag Race, Sheepherding, taste pies, and find out which produce & livestock gets Blue Ribbons.
Schedule a Massage at the Wellspring Spa:
Ranked one of North America’s Top 100 Spas, Wellspring Spa is located in a charming cedar-clad barn at Hastings House. We met our trained practitioners who specialize in traditional body and foot massage, body wraps and facials. Highly recommend the Hastings House Classic signature massage with fragrant herbs and soothing oils with aromatic hot towels. Don’t Miss! The foot soaking with rose petals…pure bliss.
Hastings House exudes old world charm, and is a luxury country resort, one of Relais et Chateaux’s designated properties. Located on 22 acres of oceanfront, just minutes from the heart of Ganges village. We were greeted by Karen and Lindsey at reception, and given a tour of the property.
Welcomed with afternoon tea cakes, cookies and tea in the Manor House, that was built to resemble an 11th century Sussex-style home in England, we then strolled the property and trails along the waterfront.
The original construction dates back to 1939 and has been transformed into luxurious guestrooms and cottages. Our wood burning fireplace added to the rustic ambience in our cottage. The 18 rooms and suites situated in seven lovingly maintained buildings around the estate, each include all of the modern amenities of a 4-star establishment.
We met General Manager Drew Underwood and his staff who shared fantastic ideas of where to go and what to do on Salt Spring Island. Highly recommend making a reservation for fine dining in the main Dining Room, where award winning Chef Marcel Kauer and his culinary team sources the freshest local ingredients, from local purveyors and Hastings House orchards and gardens.
Good to note: if you’re looking for a dreamy wedding destination, Hastings House is a wonderful venue for that special day.
One of the most exquisite B&B experiences is at Stonehouse, where guests enjoy a luxurious modern home with exquisitely designed suites. Each suite is surrounded by nature and art, looking out to spectacular views of the snow-capped volcanic peak of Mount Baker rising majestically across the Salish Sea. The owner is an art collector, and his home showcases several paintings, sculptures to admire.
We loved meeting General Manager Michael Coughlin who has managed the home since 2014, and shared “Stonehouse is the epitome of West Coast comfort and elegance.”
During our stay, we walked the gardens, and learned about the Standing Stone Circle on the property, and noticed the similarities with Stonehenge.
The property offers many places to sit, stroll, find solace and meditate. Guests savor the gourmet breakfasts and find Stonehouse to be a peaceful retreat on this beautiful island.
Don’t misss! Be sure to soak in the Jacuzzi tub and lookout at the panoramic vistas, relax in the sauna and steam room.
Best eats in the PNW
For a lovely dinner by award winning Chef Marcel Kauer and his culinary team, book a reservation at Hastings House. The food is artfully presented, and includes the freshest seasonal ingredients from local purveyors, and the Hastings House orchards, gardens.
Family owned café is located on the Ganges waterfront boardwalk and offers lunch and dinner. Red Seal Chef Shawn Walton prepares seasonal, from scratch menus using local ingredients from his own kitchen garden and from local growers, producers. The café is a warm and friendly space filled with local art, fresh flowers and sumptuous smells of delicious meals.
Across the street from the red dock is Fernwood, a quaint café to grab a coffee, tea, light bite.
Bite Me: we stopped here for backed goods, scones, cookies – delish!
How to Get There?
There are a few ways to reach Salt Spring Island, and we decided to fly Kenmore Air to Vancouver Island, rent a car in Victoria, and then take the BC Ferry to Salt Spring Island. Some visitors choose to fly Kenmore Air from Seattle to Victoria, then fly another seaplane from Victoria directly to Salt Spring Island, then rent a car or a bike to explore the island.
Kenmore Air flies scheduled and chartered flights to/from Seattle to several locations in the Pacific Northwest including the San Juan Islands, Victoria, B.C. and more. We flew Kenmore Air from Seattle to/from Victoria, and even saw Orca Whales jumping out of the waters below.
We rented a car in Victoria, and drove north beyond Sidney, to catch our ferry from Swartz Bay to Fulford Harbor on Salt Spring Island. Check BC Ferries for schedule through the Southern Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, and to Vancouver on the mainland.
Visit the official tourism sites below to learn more about British Columbia and destinations like Salt Spring Island.
Salt Spring Island: To find out more about what to do on Salt Spring Island, visit this site.
British Columbia: Find out about the beautiful destinations to visit in British Columbia.
Tourism Vancouver Island: Explore Vancouver Island and surrounding islands, and visit this site to plan your travels.
***Discover more getaways in Canada, click here***
Global Adventuress thanks Hastings House and Stonehouse B&B for hosting us during our stay, and Hastings House and Auntie Pesto’s Café for hosting the lovely dinners. Big thanks to Wellspring Spa for hosting our massages.
We also want to thank Kenmore Air, BC Ferries, and National Car Rental for providing our travels to Salt Spring Island, and the Tourism Offices of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Victoria, and Salt Spring Island for hosting us and helping to plan our trip.