A few weekends ago, I went up to visit my friends who are living on Vancouver Island. It was a very overdue visit, and having never visited anywhere on the island besides Victoria, I was very excited to discover more of the massive island. After taking the Victoria Clipper from Seattle to Victoria, they asked me if I wouldn’t mind on going on yet another ferry. They promised there was a neat little island called Salt Spring Island, so I was in.
Salt Spring Island is one of the Gulf Islands located between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia. I’d never even heard of the Gulf Islands, but there’s quite a few of them. We got there by driving north to Sydney and taking the ferry over, which was about 30 minutes long. I later learned the island has its own currency, the Salt Spring dollar. They do take regular Canadian money as well though.
Salt Spring Island Ales
The ferry dropped us off at the southern part of the island, and we made our way through the windy, forested roads. Our first item on the itinerary was a brewery – always a good place to start. It was called Salt Spring Island Ales and is located a bit off the main road in the woods. It was pretty small, and I think may have been part of the house the owner lived in. They had a decent selection of locally brewed beer and a cozy little tasting room.
Salt Spring Vineyards
As we continued up the road, we ran into a winery minutes later. Not one to turn free tastings down, we pulled in. Salt Spring Vineyards was another adorable rustic building with a garden and outside area for mingling when it’s warm out. The lady working was very friendly and gave us the history of the area in her thick Canadian accent. Apparently bears are sometimes spotted on the southern part of island, and it’s rumored that they swim from Vancouver Island across Sansum Narrows. While I think that’d be crazy to see, I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the water kayaking at that time.
Salt Spring Inn
All those tastings worked up our appetite, so we headed in to the main town of Ganges. Considering how barren the island was up until this point, I was surprised to see a main street filled with a grocery store and many other businesses. We stopped for lunch at the Salt Spring Inn. It doubles as a restaurant and inn, and as the theme was with this island, found it to be very cute and cozy. We sat by the warm fireplace, which felt comforting with the cold weather outside. I had the Greek salad and a hard cider from Salt Spring Wild, a cidery on the island. We were tempted to go there after, but figured we had to draw the line somewhere with all the tastings! We were at the Inn for several hours, catching up and enjoying the ambience of the place.
After being stuffed with food and way too much alcohol, we decided being active would be a good choice. We headed a few minutes away from town to Mouat Park Trails with the objective of playing frisbee golf. I have a lot of friends in Seattle who play this, but for some reason have never gone with them (or maybe I was never invited, who knows). We walked for a bit into the woods until my friend spotted the starting spot. I had no idea what he was looking at until he pointed way off into the distance at a tiny silver pole that looked like a chime. How I would hit that from where we were standing, I had no idea.
For those who have never played frisbee golf, it’s similar to regular golf in that there are 18 “holes” on a course. The “hole” is either a pole or a net in which to get your frisbee in. It’s purposely challenging like golf, and the pole is usually far away and angled behind a tree or other object, so don’t expect to hit it on your first few tries.
There were four of us, so we paired off into teams. I was a little hesitant at first, as it was sprinkling and cold out, but the competitive side of me quickly came out. Playing in the woods was surprisingly fun yet challenging, as one wrong throw could land your frisbee in the bushes or headed down the river, as my friend found out.
Back to Vancouver Island
It was starting to get pretty dark out, so we called it a day. The ferries back to Vancouver Island get pretty sparse past the afternoon, and we didn’t want to risk waiting several hours for the next one. When we arrived at the ferry terminal, we found we were the first ones in line, and conveniently, a bar was next door. We walked over and savored a glass of Chardonnay while overlooking the water.
I plan on going back to Vancouver Island again in the summer when it’s much warmer. I would love to head to another Gulf Island as well now that I know they exist. This is just one of the many reasons I love traveling – it opens you up to places you’ve never heard of before, and your knowledge of the world gets that much bigger.
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