Salt Spring Island is the largest of the gulf islands and is a very unique and friendly place. There are only around 11,000 inhabitants on the island and all but those with at least 3 generations of family can consider themselves new arrivals.
The Ferry from Victoria arrives into Fairford Harbour, a small wooden pier connecting the ferry to the road, oh and there is a café to refuel while you wait for one of a handful of taxis to come back to pick you up. The harbour like the rest of the island you are about to discover is beautiful green and warm. In fact the island is one of the warmest places to be in the whole of Canada and gets little rainfall compared to the likes of nearby Vancouver. In short if you want quiet sunny days in Canada this could be the place to go!
Once you are settled there is a lot of island exploring to do if you have a car, but for the ferry foot passengers you are pretty much stuck in Ganges as there is no public transport.
The main town is Ganges and is about 10 minutes drive from Fairford Harbour. It is a small town; think a handful of nice restaurants, a couple of good pubs and a harbour. No star bucks, no chain stores just great island living. Book ahead though as there is also only a handful of places to stay. Harbour House Hotel is the biggest lodgings to be had and is a good choice, otherwise maybe check out the local bed and breakfast offerings.
Definitely include a Saturday stay on Salt Spring as there is a wonderful market held in Ganges where local people sell only locally made produce and crafts.
For the fun loving outdoor type or for those who don’t yet know they are, Sea Kayaking is an excellent way to spend a few hours under the instruction of a local guide who can show you some of the local history and biology from your own arm power sea level craft. A typical 2 hour trip for the complete beginner will cost around $40 each and have you paddling around the mini Goat island in the harbour. Watch out for landing sea planes!
When leaving Salt Spring Island charter a Salt Spring Air sea plane for the 25 minute flight back to Vancouver. Getting the sea plane gives a fantastic view over the islands and is very much recommended for all.
All in all spending a couple of days on Salt Spring island is a must for anyone who like the ideas of being off the beaten track experiencing local island life.