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Taste-tripping on Salt Spring

An easy island escape brimming with artisan food and drink producers, a huge outdoor market and a side-dish of life-affirming nature.

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“I instantly unwind as soon I arrive on laid-back Salt Spring. But I also love weaving around the island’s small-batch producers, searching for delicious new treats to bring home.”

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John Lee is an independent writer whose work has appeared in more than 150 outlets around the world. A craft beer fan with a deep love for nature, he has recently discovered the joys of birding.


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What you need to know

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Who is it for

Couples

Solo travellers

Foodies

When to visit

Spring

Summer

Time needed

48 hours

For a better experience

What to bring

Sunhat

Cooler

Distance to major centres

# km from Victoria

Travel times from Downtown Vancouver

# km from Victoria


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Visit
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Taste-tripping on Salt Spring


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Dive into the Vibrant Saturday Market

Salt Spring’s sprawling April to October Saturday Market starts a few steps from the mirror-calm Ganges village shoreline. On sunny days, it feels like everyone on the island is here, creating a party-like vibe of laid-back browsers chatting to friendly stallholders and stocking up on everything from just-picked fruit to fresh-baked bread and from rustic pottery to sea glass artworks. Everything is made, baked or grown on Salt Spring and there are often more than 100 stalls to explore. Look out for irresistible pistachio-cranberry shortbread from Bite Me! Treats; organic pesto and butter pickles from Duck Creek Farm; and luscious juices from Laughing Apple Farm. On pe

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Dive into the Vibrant Saturday Market

Shop for local goods

Hosted by Salt Spring Saturday Market

Discover a True Small-Batch Distillery

Hop in the car (designated driver recommended) and zip to the hidden-gem Salt Spring Shine Craft Distillery, tucked into a gabled wooden shed fringed by towering trees. Inside, you’ll find a tiny tasting room lined with rugged wooden counters and slender shelves bristling with apothecary-like bottles of housemade gin, vodka and more. B.C. honey is a key ingredient in these smooth, intricately-flavoured libations and I especially love the Apple Pie Moonshine with its lip-smacking notes of clove, cinamon and orange peel. Try a few samples (there’s no cost for these but it’s a small operation so call ahead to check that they’re open) and then pick up a bottle or tw

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Discover a True Small-Batch Distillery

Shop for your favorite liqour at

Hosted by Salt Spring Shine Craft Distillery

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Sip Some Island-Made Wine

The Okanagan Valley lures the lion’s share of travelling wine fans in B.C., but I love discovering the province’s alternative grape-hugging destinations. Among the Gulf Island’s tastiest options, Salt Spring Vineyards is a warm and highly welcoming delight, complete with a friendly tasting room, bucolic grounds and some alfresco picnic tables overlooking the gently-rustling vines. You’ll meet plenty of islanders here (resident ducks included), but it’s the libations themselves that you’ll fall for. Try the zesty Pinot Gris and velvet-smooth Millotage but be sure to add a slender bottle of port-like Blackberry Dessert Wine to your takeout order––you’ll

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Sip Some Island-Made Wine

Get a glass of Red Wine at

Hosted by Salt Spring Vineyards

Sample a Brilliant B.C. Microbrewery

Almost enveloped by the surrounding trees, nip up the stairs to the tiny, cabin-like tasting room here and be prepared to discover your favourite B.C. beverage. Established in 1998, Salt Spring Island Ales is a veteran of the province’s craft beer scene, but its small size means it remains an under-the-radar jewel that visitors keep discovering as if it's brand new. Made from island spring water, local-grown hops and more, sip some intriguing samples of Golden Ale, Dry Porter and the latest seasonal small-batch creations here. But don’t miss the Heather Ale, an utterly delicious fusion of island-grown heather and delicate, lightly floral hops that is one of my all-time favourite West Coast beers.

Sample a Brilliant B.C. Microbrewery

Shop at

Hosted by Salt Spring Island Ales

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Visit an Artisanal Lavender Farm

Breathe deeply when you arrive at the rustic, gently-sloping Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm and you’ll realize just how far you’ve come from the city. The best time to visit is June or July when a surfeit of sun-dappled purple flowers undulates down the hillside like a fragrant fleece blanket. Keep your eyes peeled for pollen-dusted bees buzzing between the blooms and be sure to snap plenty of photos of the flora and the farm’s handsome resident horses. The barn-like shop here is also a great place to learn about the underrated culinary value of lavender: I recommend buying Herb de Provence––a revelatory seasoning that enhances most dishes––but you’ll als

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Visit an Artisanal Lavender Farm

shop for Lavander at

Hosted by Sacred Mountain Lavender

Find Your Favourite Goat Cheese

One of Salt Spring’s most popular foodie destinations, some visitors drive straight here from the ferry. Combining a woodsy boutique winery look with the friendliness of a neighbourhood dairy farm, family-owned Salt Spring Island Cheese Company has cornered the market in luscious goat cheese. Head into the tile-floored tasting room for a full array of samples––it’s the only way to find your favourite from a diverse selection including Basil Chèvre, Blue Juliette and Herb & Garlic Ruckles (my choice). Save time to explore the grounds where you can watch the cheesemaking and spot some gamboling goats. There are also tables here if you fancy a picnic: handily,

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Find Your Favourite Goat Cheese

Bring home some cheese from

Hosted by Salt Spring Island Cheese Company

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Picnic in a Beautiful Island Park

If you fancy taking your picnic on the road instead, head to nearby Ruckle Provincial Park, a spirit-lifting green space that’s also perfect for gently restorative nature walks. Striped with trails under a cooling canopy of lichen-draped trees––I especially love the gnarly-limbed Garry oaks––the park’s headline lure is its super-scenic 7km shoreline. Orcas and sea lions regularly slide past here and the tidal pools are often bursting with salty life, including purple-hued starfish. Birding is also a major hook, with eagles, grebes and cormorants commonly spotted. There’s even a foodie link to discover in the park: one of B.C.’s oldest farms still operate

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Picnic in a Beautiful Island Park

Spend time at the BC Park

Hosted by Ruckle Provincial Park

Dine with the Chatty Locals

Back in Ganges, the perfect finale to any Salt Spring visit is to join the locals at the Tree House Cafe. Radiating beneath the sprawling limbs of a large plum tree, its alfresco dining area feels like a highly sociable outdoor party on languid summer evenings, with the leaves gently rustling overhead and animated chatter all around. If you’re especially lucky, there’ll be live music to add to the merrymaking. Food-wise, expect a feast of hearty comfort dishes from vegan chili to yam quesadilla––I especially love the juicy free-range B.C. beef burger, coupled with a freshly-poured beer from Salt Spring Island Ales.

Dine with the Chatty Locals

Enjoy a feast at

Hosted by Tree House Cafe

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