For a slice of west coast life, look no further than Salt Spring Island. Although this Southern Gulf Island is conveniently wedged between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland (just 30 minutes by ferry from Victoria and 1.5 hours from Vancouver), a trip to Salt Spring will make you feel like you are worlds away. This island locale is the epitome of B.C. living, offering up unspoiled natural beauty, rustic chic accommodation options, friendly locals, a thriving wine and beer scene, and an undeniably offbeat charm.
While June through August is the most popular time of year to visit Salt Spring, autumn is perhaps the best time. The end of the summer rush gives way to an off-season, sleepy island life that is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Below are a few of the key reasons why you should consider a trip to Salt Spring Island, British Columbia this fall.
Image via: Salt Spring Market
The province’s license plates don’t read “Beautiful British Columbia” for nothing. It seems that nearly all of B.C. abounds with natural beauty, but there’s something unique about the nature on Salt Spring Island. First off, despite its small size, the island is home to four provincial parks and multiple unique natural features, including magical rainforests, sandstone shores, and freshwater lakes. So whether you’re into low-intensity walks on the beach or mountain treks, there is something for every level of hiker on Salt Spring. Second, due to the island’s small population, even the most popular beaches and trails don’t get overcrowded. This makes hiking, camping, swimming, and kayaking some of the most peaceful activities year-round. Be sure to visit Mt. Maxwell (there is an option to drive to the top for an unbeatable view, though you must have a 4×4 car to drive up the road), Mt. Erskine (where there is a “fairy door” trail that kids will love), Ruckle Provincial Park, and Beddis Beach. And for those who just enjoy looking at nature, there are public beaches, picturesque harbours, and views of snow-capped Mount Baker at every turn.
The Wine, Beer, and Cider
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For such a small island, it’s surprising how thriving Salt Spring’s wine, craft beer, and cider scene is. The island is home to multiple wineries, most notably Garry Oaks Estate Winery and Salt Spring Vineyards, both of which boast scenic valley vineyards with small tasting rooms. The wineries are open only on weekends in the fall. Meanwhile, Salt Spring Island Ales is a tiny but mighty brewery on the island that has an enticing lineup of beers on tap, ranging from their fan favourites to their seasonal brews. Finally, Salt Spring Wild Cider House is not to be missed. Not only is the apple cider delicious, but the cider house itself consists of a warm, rustic indoor tasting room, as well as an expansive outdoor terrace with picnic tables and umbrellas overlooking the valley down below. Sipping on apple cider while taking in the vibrant foliage? It doesn’t get more autumnal than that.
The Famous Saturday Market
Image via: Salt Spring Tourism
Salt Spring’s famous Saturday Market is known across the country — and maybe even beyond. The market is a must if visiting the island on a weekend, as it is here that you’ll find nearly 150 local artisans and food producers selling unique items you can only find on Salt Spring. The best part of the market? The rule that all market vendors must “make it, bake it, or grow it” themselves in order to sell it. Thus, you know for certain that everything you see for sale is one-of-a-kind and local. You’ll find everything from soap and artwork to fresh produce and ready-to-eat meals. It’s a great spot for souvenirs and getting to know the locals.
The Bed and Breakfasts
Image via: Hotels.com
The last reason to visit Salt Spring Island this fall is for the bed and breakfasts. As soon as you step foot on the island, you’ll quickly see that there are very few hotels. We personally believe this adds to the island’s charm, as well as promotes the local inns that will truly make the most of your stay on Salt Spring. There are two standout B&Bs on the island. The first is Hedgerow House. This Gulf Island Inn is one of the most luxurious and prides itself on its eco-conscious efforts. It has installed a solar hot water system and a rainwater collection system on the property, as well as LED lights and an electric vehicle charger. It even offers to pay for your ferry fare if you walk-on rather than bring your car.
Second is the Stonehouse Inn. This inn boasts a luxury west coast atmosphere complete with gourmet breakfasts, an impressive art collection on-site, and four acres of tree-lined lanes, hillside paths, and blooming gardens.