Arts, culture or challenging hikes: Salt Spring Island is the top choice this summer
Salt Spring Island (also known as Saltspring Island) is one of the Gulf islands in the Straight of Georgia between mainland British Columbia, Canada and Vancouver island.
The island was initially inhabited by various Salishan peopole before being settled by pioneers in 1859, at which time it was officially called Admiral Island. It was the first of the Gulf Islands to be settled and the first agricultural settlement on the islands in the Colony of Vancouver Island, as well as the first island in the region to permit settlers to acquire land through pre-emption. The island was retitled to its current name in 1910.
Salt Spring Island is the largest, most populous, and the most frequently visited of the Southern Gulf Islands. This lovely island, which was once well known as a refuge from racism for African Americans who had resided in California, is at its best during summertime when the sunshine is plentiful, and the markets are chock-a-block with the region’s finest and freshest produce.
Thanks to its wealth of resources, Salt Spring Island has become the archipelago’s most popular destination. The island, wrapped in a thick blanket of Douglas firs, is perfect for hikers and cyclists looking to explore the scenery, and the surrounding waters are perfect for whale spotting in June.
But the island is perhaps best known for its art scene, which has its centre in the village of Ganges. Maintaining a thriving community of artists and craftspeople, Ganes is host to the summer Salt Spring Saturday Market, the island’s largest showcase of locally made goods and art. Grab a fistfull of local prduce and browse through stalls of homemade jewellery, or stop to inspect the craftmanship of a local woodwooker – you’re certain to find something special here.
Salt Spring Island also has several hiking trails. Two of the trails are rough and windy trails which lead to the summit regions of both Bruce Peak 709 meters (2,326 feet) above sea level, and Mount Tuam 602 meters (1,975 feet) above sea level. These two mountain peaks are the tallest points of land on the Southern Gulf Islands. Other short hikes can also be found on the island. One of these is the 2.5km long trek to the summit of Mount Erskine, which is 441 meteres above sea level.
One of the major highlights is the hugely popular and packed out Saturday markets in Centennial Park. A walk through the market reveals bushels of farm-grown veggies and berries; brownies and banana bread; racks of tie-dyed shirts and dresses; lavender soaps and bees-wax candles; writing tablets of handmade paper; bunches of fresh-cut flowers; chutnies, jams and relishes alongside hand-wrought necklaces and earrings. Brightly dressed sellers string braids of garlic and show exquisitely crafted garden benches and wind chimes. Booths sells smoothies, doughboys and fruitcicles – the list goes on.
What visitors feel, in fact, is the very richness of Saltspring itself, its exquisite natural beauty and fascinating mix of multi-talented people. This diversity defines the island, not so much as a tight-knit community, but as one where people value, above all, their independence and creativity. This is what has drawn them here; this is the glue that hold them here.
Accomodation is also well catered for which a great range of places to stay at Saltspring. From ayurvedic and organic spa cottages, to vacation and rental homes, to the hotels and resorts. Superb choice of acommodation to suit all budgets and tastes. So if you’re looking to for leisurely walks along with countless opportunities to explore the marine world by canoe, kayak, chartered or rental boats or by the new sport of stand-up paddle boarding, then Saltspring should be a great holiday destination this summer holiday.
All image credit: Spring Island Tourism
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