If you’re looking for a girl’s getaway in an island coastal setting that still has amenities, Saltspring Island never disappoints. I recently went with my daughter for Mother’s Day.
We went as walk-ons on the BC Ferries southern Gulf Island route from Tsawwassen and were treated to the sight of sea lions frolicking just before Mayne Island both ways! As the largest southern gulf island, Saltspring has an extensive local bus service with several routes, so we were dropped off at the Ganges visitor centre right in the centre of the village.
Our usual b&b is Wisteria Guest House, which is a ten minute walk to Ganges. Len and his daughter Kim are very welcoming and offer homemade cookies and all day tea and coffee. The Saltspring Inn is right downtown, but not all rooms have a private bathroom and it’s noisy and hot in the summer. Unfortunately, the Harbour House now charges over $300 a night, so that is over our budget.
This time we wanted to sample more of the island’s wine and cider. Garry Oaks Estate Winery is accessible by transit on the Fulford bus and the driver will drop you close by. One of my favourites is their award winning Pinot Noir. You can do a wine tasting for $10 a person which is waived if you buy a bottle, which you can sip and enjoy on the patio looking at the vineyard and Mount Maxwell. You can also walk or drive to Saltspring Vineyards which is about five minutes away.
We discovered Vizetta winery at the Thrifty’s liquor store, and tried a bottle of their Ortega, which is a German grape. It is an interesting complex wine which I would drink again. The winery is accessible by car and they have a booth at the Saturday market.
My new favourite BC winery is Kutatas on Saltspring. It was a 10 minute walk from our B&B and it was our favourite wine tasting. It is a boutique winery producing nine stellar wines. We had a wine tasting and Dan Dragert, a co-owner, seated us and brought over one glass at a time. He was happy to explain each wine’s characteristics to us. Their products include two types of pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris, Ortega, and two types of rose. Their tasting room is open Saturday afternoons until the fall. Three of their wines are currently available in Vancouver.
We were already familiar with Saltspring Wild cider and had an enjoyable cider flight and dinner. Their ciders have a variety of fruit flavours, and their menu will please vegetarians, seafood and meat lovers. Their large patio has a beautiful view, and lots of seating. This will be a dinner venue for future trips. Again, the cidery is a short walk or drive from Ganges and about 20 minutes from Wisteria Guest house.
A second cidery, Ciderworks was a delightful surprise. It’s a half hour walk uphill from Ganges past Embe Bakery. Next time I’ll have the bus driver drop me off! The cider flight offers 6 choices and pours are very generous at about 3 ounces each! As a prediabetic, I enjoy low or no sugar options, and their ciders contain no added sugar. I especially enjoyed the sparkling and traditional English varieties. There is a gorgeous view from either their ground level or upstairs patio. Food is limited, so it’s a good idea to eat before you go.
Blossom Tree Spa offers a variety of relaxing massage options including aromatherapy, lomi lomi, and hot jade stone. It is conveniently located right downtown, and Zama creates a welcoming environment and charges very reasonable prices. I plan to get a birthday massage on my next visit.
My daughter treated me to kayaking at Saltspring Adventures. Just our luck it was raining, but we had an enjoyable paddle through Ganges Harbour which was suitable for an inexperienced kayaker like me.
For breakfast, our favourite places are Dagwood Diner and Saltspring Inn. The Inn is a bit more upscale and has more vegetarian options and a patio with a harbour view. Other dining options include The Treehouse, The Oystercatcher, Moby’s Pub, Burger Bar and Rock Salt Restaurant in Fulford Harbour.
One activity which is a must is the Saturday market which has a variety of produce, bread, flowers, food trucks and local artisans. Everything sold is made or grown on the Island. I even found keto bread and two kinds of crackers!
Saltspring is a great destination for any type of getaway.