There are thousands of islands off the coast of British Columbia, with hundreds of them populated with curious towns, magical harbours and stunning hikes and nature escapes. I have made it my goal to spend more time aboard BC Ferries bound for some of these wonderful places to see what island life has to offer in this gorgeous province.
Bowen Island, just 20 minutes outside Horseshoe Bay, is a charming place to spend the day. Check out my guide to Bowen Island here. Vancouver Island (which doesn't really feel like an island at more than 32,000 square km) is bursting to the brim with outdoor adventures. From Tofino to Mount Washington, and the province's capital of Victoria to the coastal town of Nanaimo, there's something for everyone.
Today, Sam and I ventured out to Salt Spring Island, with the main goal being to visit the Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm near Fulford Harbour. The island offers a whole range of activities, from hiking to camping and exploring quaint towns, which we fully intend to come back and spend time doing.
How to Get to Salt Spring Island
We chose to bring our bikes across on the ferries given the price of trekking a car on the ferry at $57.50 each way Tsawwassen-Victoria + $31.35 round-trip Victoria-Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring (totaling $146.35). The direct route for a car comes in at $67.00 each way Tsawwassen-Long Harbour, Salt Spring.
Bikes, by comparison, are $19.20 each way Tsawwassen-Victoria + $12.75 round-trip Victoria-Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring (totaling $51.15 per person). The direct route for a bike comes in at $19.70 each way Tsawwassen-Long Harbour, Salt Spring. Check out the latest BC Ferries fares here.
There is a direct gulf islands ferry that runs from Tsawwassen to Long Harbour on Salt Spring. This ferry does not run frequently (usually once or twice per day each way) and stops at some other gulf islands. You can see the ferry schedule for the Tsawwassen-Long Harbour route and buy tickets here. This is the northern ferry terminal on the island, which is far from the lavender farm by bike at approximately 1 hour 20 mins over mountainous terrain.
Instead, take the ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, Victoria then on to Fulford Harbour (the island's southern terminal) on Salt Spring Island. You can see the ferry schedule for the Swartz Bay, Victoria-Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island route here. When you purchase your tickets, ask for the ferry to Salt Spring Island via Victoria.
How to Get to Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm
Once you arrive at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island, you can explore the small ferry town of Fulford Harbour. Once you are ready to set off, follow Fulford-Ganges Road around the beautiful little harbour. At the first intersection, turn left on Isabella Point Road to stay flush to the waterfront. After a short while, take the steep Musgrave Road to the right - you will likely need to walk your bike for part of this road! Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm is on the left side of the main road, very visibly sign-posted and full of blooming lavender!
Visiting Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm
Be sure to check the opening times for the farm - in peak season it's open every day, but for the rest of the year, there are certain closures due to low blooms. The best time to see the lavender fields in full bloom is from mid-July to mid-August each year. There is no entrance fee to visit the lavender fields, but they do own a small on-site shop that stocks homemade lavender goodies where you can splurge on treats like linen sprays, soaps and face mists.