It’s the business center, with stores and restaurants clustered around the central Ganges harbour. Toward the outer edges of the village, residential areas sprawl both inland and along the shores.
An entire day could easily be spent wandering around the village, poking into art galleries, sampling local fare, visiting the shops, and watching the activity in the harbour.
This page explores the highlights of Salt Spring’s largest village, offering details on marinas, dining, entertainment, etc.
Ganges Harbour is a busy place. Float planes and water taxis both run regular routes in and out of the harbour. Touring yachts, sailing charters, fishing vessels and recreational boats of all sizes come and go from the marinas in a constant stream. Public moorage is offered at both the Ganges Marina and the Salt Spring Marina.
A few small islands (The Chain Islands) dot the entry into the harbour and the beautiful, white shell ‘Chocolate Beach’ on Third Sister Island is a perfect destination for a daytime paddle.
The Salt Spring Island Sailing Club have a large dock for members’ moorage on the south west side of the harbour.
Due to the metropolitan nature of the Ganges center 😉 beach access is fairly limited.
There are a few places where you can get at the water, but none of the beach areas downtown are what I’d consider noteworthy. There are several benches along the way to stop and enjoy the view of the harbour. But it’s not the best place to go for a day at the beach.
Nearby Churchill Beach, at the end of Churchill Rd is quite a nice settling-in spot with harbour views and lots of early-mid day sun.
ENJOY A WALK
Around the harbour – make use of the wooden boardwalk that snakes its way around parts of the inner harbour.
Mouat Park – ideal for those with limited mobility. Parking lot is located behind ArtSpring, close to trails. Paths are wide and flat, but watch out for flying discs as this is the home of the island’s popular disc golf course AND, as of August 2018, also offers a bike park!
This commercial center of Salt Spring Island has two gas stations, two grocery stores, several restaurants, three banks, three pharmacies, several clothing stores, thrift stores, home decor, natural foods, bookstores, a public library, sporting goods and electronics stores, bakeries… a bit of everything really!
A few specialty stores round out the offerings downtown; kitchen store, chocolate shop, ice cream/candy store and a great kid’s toy store.
Fitness and well being are important factors of life on Salt Spring. And it’s evident from looking around. There are a few gyms downtown, a yoga studio, several spas and bodywork practitioners and an astonishing assortment of locally made body care products to be found.
The ArtSpring Theatre always has something interesting going on. Tucked into a serene corner downtown, there are a constant stream of art exhibits, theatrical performances, and live music happening throughout the year.
- Galleries & Studios
A handful of art galleries and studios exhibiting the vast and varied works of locals are sprinkled throughout Ganges.
- Saturday Market
Probably the best known event that happens in Ganges is the Saturday Market. An explosion of local crafters, artists, bakers and growers convene at Centennial Park to offer their hand made/grown wares.There are a dizzying array of items available and competition for space amongst sellers is increasing. Booths featuring clothing, woodworks, gemstones, jewelry, baked goods, preserves, plants, metalworks, sculpture, and a myriad of other creations line the pavement in the park. An eclectic collection of musicians and entertainers take it in turn to liven up the already lively atmosphere with their varied talents. My favorite are the kids that get out there with their instruments and play their little hearts out. Keep some change handy for these folks!
Throughout the summer months (mid-June to mid-Sept), Mahon Hall hosts ‘ArtCraft’ every day from 10-5. Members of local art guilds share the spotlight, taking it in turn to display their works in a bi-weekly cycle of exhibits.
Live entertainment can be found in Ganges nearly every night of the week at one of the restaurants or pubs downtown.
Moby’s, Shipstones, The Local Pub, and the Treehouse Café most commonly host performers. Check the ‘What’s on this week’ section of the Driftwood news for a calendar of events during your stay on Salt Spring.
How about a culinary challenge?
Become a ‘locavore’ for the day and make an event out of creating a full-fledged Salt Spring meal.
An assortment of eateries can be found throughout Ganges. From casual take-out kiosks to fine dining establishments, there’s something for every occasion.
Aside from restaurants, enjoy the local fare by visiting the fishmonger, local bakeries, and the Saturday market or Tuesday’s organic foods market in the park.
There are also two grocery stores and a natural foods store in Ganges to get stocked up on necessities for your stay. Thrifty’s Foods and Natureworks are both right in the heart of downtown and Country Grocer is located uptown along Lower-Ganges road.
A few ways to avoid the parking conundrum altogether…
- take a taxi
- don your walking shoes
- rent a bike or scooter
- use the transit system
The visitor’s info building is located in the center of the village, along the main road. It’s also the downtown transit stop for the island bus system. (see transit schedule)
If you’re in Ganges on a busy weekend during the high season, parking can be an issue. It may take a bit of circling around to find a spot. Nothing but a small test of will. 🙂
A spot in the large central parking lot near Thrifty’s Foods and Mouat’s is ideal. Then you can walk around through Ganges and it’s never too far back to the vehicle.
A BIT OF HISTORY
The village is named after HMS Ganges II, a 196 foot British Royal Navy flagship, dispatched to the Colony of Vancouver Island in the mid-1800’s. For more on the rich history of this island, have a look at… Salt Spring: The Story of an Island by Charles Kahn