Salt Spring Island
With its wealth of studios, galleries, restaurants, and B&Bs, Salt Spring is the most developed, and most visited, of the Southern Gulf Islands. It's home to the only town in the archipelago (Ganges) and, although it can get busy on summer weekends, has not yet lost its relaxed rural feel. Outside of Ganges, the rolling landscape is home to small organic farms, wineries, forested hills, quiet white-shell beaches, and several swimming lakes.
What really sets Salt Spring apart is its status as a "little arts town." Island residents include hundreds of artists, writers, craftspeople, and musicians, many of whom open their studios to visitors. To visit more than 35 local artists in their studios, pick up a free map from the tourist information center in Ganges.
The ferries to Salt Spring arrive at three different docks, in or near the island's three villages. Boats from the mainland and from the southern Gulf Islands dock at Long Harbour, just east of Ganges. Salt Spring's main commercial center is the seaside village of Ganges, about 9 miles north of the Fulford Ferry Terminal. It has about a dozen art galleries, as well as the essentials: restaurants, banks, gas stations, grocery stores, and a liquor store. At the south end of Salt Spring Island, the ferries from Victoria dock at the tiny village of Fulford, which has a restaurant, a café, and several offbeat boutiques. Ferries from Crofton, on Vancouver Island, arrive on the west side of Salt Spring Island at the small coastal community of Vesuvius, with a restaurant, a tiny grocery store–cum-café, and crafts studios.