There is no better way to see Salt Spring (or, for that matter, any of the Gulf/San Juan Islands) than one paddle stroke at a time. In summer, the waters are usually calm, and the forested shoreline of bays and coves provides a perfect backdrop for a water-borne wildlife tour. Along with seabirds (auklets to oystercatchers), look for sea lions, mink, and deer. Kayak rentals, lessons, and tours are available in Ganges and Fulford Harbour.
You can drive to the summit of Mount Maxwell, but the 1.5-mile climb is relatively easy, and the stunning views from the top from Burgoyne Bay to Vancouver Island are worth a few calories. For a change in pace, head to Ruckle Park at the southeastern corner of the island and follow the nearly 3-mile trail to the rocky shoreline at Yeo Point, where wildlife (deer to sea lions) is as much a draw as the beach.
If you’re looking for Gucci bargains, you’re on the wrong island. But for sheer low-key fun, it’s hard to beat the Market in the Park, held at Centennial Park in Ganges every Saturday from April to October. A showcase for the island lifestyle, it features the talents of local artisans (potters and painters, woodworkers and weavers among them) and musicians, as well as a cornucopia of organic fruits and vegetables. (Don’t miss the local farmstead cheeses.)