Escape to Salt Spring Island

Leave your worries behind as you enjoy the beach and the local offerings
Rachel Levin

It could be because your iPhone stops working. Or because it’s been drizzling for days. Or because this woodsy, lush land—home to farmers and fishermen, artists, and, uh, nudists—feels a little ’60s. But when you set foot on Salt Spring Island, suddenly you have time to read an entire book ​on the back porch or nap on a rocky beach.

Get out on the water: In September, when the sun is out, Salt Spring is one pretty place to paddle. Evergreen-spiked mountains are all around, seals surface every few minutes, and purple seastars cling to rocky shores. Rent a kayak at Island Escapades (from $68 U.S.; islandescapades.com) and pull up to the white-sand Chocolate Beach for a picnic or a dunk in the chilly, turquoise-clear water. You can also swim at Beddis Beach and rocky Southy Point.

Take a drive with no destination in mind: Before there were food trucks, there were farmstands—those roadside stops you just happen upon and can’t help but pull over for. Within two minutes of leaving Fulford Harbour on Fulford-Ganges Road, you’ll spy your first hand-scrawled sign: Farm-fresh eggs! Another quarter-mile: Organic jam. More eggs. And then things start to get a little crazy: Kale chips! …  Gluten-free cookies … Live poultry swap! And so on.

If you want to explore the 30-plus art studios scattered around the island, pick up a free Salt Spring Studio Tour Map (saltspringstudiotour.com) and lazily cruise  from pottery stand to woodworking shop to gallery.

Catch your own dinner: You can saunter down to the dock and buy halibut, cod, or live crabs straight off the boat, but it’s even better to catch your own. Fishing charters—which end up doubling as whale-watching and sunset tours—leave from Ganges Harbour; Silver Spoon Charters (from $418 U.S. for half-day for 2; fishsaltspring.com) is good for newbies. For a total immersion course, guests of Hastings House Hotel can book a Dungeness crabbing expedition with a salty island fisherman and learn the tricks of the trade (pulling traps, throwing back females to breed), plus how to cook up the catch. From $1,335 U.S. for 2 for 2 nights, including room, breakfast, crabbing trip, and 4-course dinner; hastingshouse.com

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