Salt Spring Island is the largest of the Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia situated between mainland BC and Vancouver Island. The largest village on the island is Ganges, with smaller communities at Fulford Village, Fernwood, and Vesuvius Bay.
Ganges: On Salt Spring, all roads lead to the village of Ganges, in mid island, the biggest town in the Gulf Islands. There are more shops, services, amenities, restaurants, and galleries (not to mention tourists and cars) crammed into Ganges than exist on any other Gulf Island. After browsing the galleries, walk down to the water for lunch. Ganges was named after HMS Ganges, the flagship of the Royal Navy’s Pacific Station between 1857 and 1860. Built in 1821, the Ganges was the last British sailing battleship commissioned for duty in foreign waters.
Fulford Village, at the southern end of the island, bustles with activity when the ferry arrives from Swartz Bay terminal on Vancouver Island. The decidedly laid-back atmosphere of Fulford Village, the historic Fulford Inn, the historic grocery store, the Mexican cafe, and the few crafts shops all combine to add to the unique character of Fulford Harbour and the Fulford Harbour Ferry Terminal. Visit the native artifacts museum housed in a beautiful log building.
Fulford Harbour was named after Captain John Fulford, commanding officer of the HMS Ganges, the flagship of the Royal Navy’s Pacific Station between 1857 and 1860. Built in 1821, the Ganges was the last British sailing battleship commissioned for duty in foreign waters. Charming Fulford Harbour provides temporary anchorage in the shallow waters at the head of the long inlet, a favourite destination among cruising boats.
Tiny Vesuvius Bay on the northwest side of Salt Spring offers more studios, hiking trails, and spectacular sunsets! BC Ferries operates a ferry service from Vesuvius to Crofton on Vancouver Island. This is one of the few ferry docks where you can park your car in line and wander over to a pub (the Vesuvius Inn) and quaff a beer and enjoy the great view from the veranda while you wait for your ship to come in. A popular family beach is close to the facilities at Vesuvius Bay. Park on Langley Street, then go down a flight of stairs to the beach. Amateur geologists will find some deeply inclined rock strata to study, and warmer ocean waters make it a good spot for swimming. Vesuvius Bay was the home of the first settlers on Salt Spring Island (1857), the nine American blacks who had purchased their freedom from slavery. Vesuvius is named after the Royal Navy’s paddle sloop Vesuvius, which did duty in the Black Sea during the Crimean War (1853-1856).
Fernwood is the fourth community on the island, facing Galiano Island on the northeast coast of Salt Spring. Fernwood is a good launching spot for those wishing to cross Houston Passage to visit Wallace Island Marine Provincial Park in Trincomali Channel. Fernwood provides a government wharf at Fernwood Point, off Walker Hook Road, and a boat launching ramp over tidal sand flats at Hudson Point, north of the Fernwood Dock off North Beach Road.