All the Gulf Islands offer beautiful natural scenery and special camping opportunities. Salt Spring Island camping and glamping options are far more extensive than the others, though, offering a surprising variety of styles and comfort levels.
Whether you are looking for a rustic backwoods experience or simply want to enjoy these gorgeous surroundings with most of the comforts of home, you should be able to find the perfect Salt Spring Island campground to fit your needs.
RV camping on Salt Spring Island is not quite as popular as tenting because of the narrow roads and generally smaller campsites. However, there are still several Salt Spring camping options and as long as you don’t have a particularly humongous rig it should be fine. If you have any concerns, you can always message your chosen Salt Spring Island campground ahead of time to make sure they can accommodate you.
Meanwhile, if you decide you need a break from camping on Salt Spring Island, there are also lots of outstanding hotel options to choose from. Check out our list of the 10 best hotels on Salt Spring Island.
And, finally, for everything you need to know during your visit to Salt Spring Island, have a look at our complete guide:
Salt Spring Island Camping
Salt Spring Island camping is one of the best ways to truly immerse yourself in the phenomenal natural attractions of this unique and historic Gulf Island. Whatever level of service you prefer, you should be able to find a good fit among the various Salt Spring campgrounds.
Garden Faire Campground
Most Conveniently Located Salt Spring Island Campground
Easily the most unique campground on Salt Spring Island, quirky and eclectic Garden Faire Campground is an excellent choice just a 10-minute walk from downtown Ganges. Over 20 years old, it features more than 50 sites, each uniquely decorated and many divided by wooden fences. The popular off-leash hiking trails of Mouat Park are right next door.
The entire campground is tucked nicely into the surrounding forest and there are some seriously whimsical decorations, some long-term sites that feature a wild mix of styles and it is hard to pass up the opportunity to try out the tree shower. And, as you’d expect, there are also several colourful “fairy doors” hidden among the trees… don’t forget to knock. This is definitely a fanciful Salt Spring camping option.
Two-thirds of the sites are for tenting while the rest are open to small RVs (26 ft or less). They also have a couple of tents already set up and available for rent if you don’t have your own.
55 (mix of walk-in and drive-in)
Garden Faire Campground Prices
Walk-in tent sites: $35 / $30 (summer/winter)
Serviced RV sites: $55 / $50
Unserviced RV sites: $50 / $45
2-bed Rent-a-Tent: $55
$15 per extra person
Kids under 14 free
Address and Contact Information
305 Rainbow Road
Ruckle Provincial Park Campground
Best Salt Spring Island Campground for Nature Lovers
Ruckle Provincial Park covers 529 hectares of the nicest terrain on Salt Spring Island and is considered one of the best parks in the Gulf Islands. It features amazing scenery, 15 kilometres of hiking trails and Ruckle Heritage Farm, a working traditional farm that dates back to Henry Ruckle in 1872. Views over the Swanson Channel between Salt Spring and Pender Island are exceptional and the rugged coastline offers endless hours of exploration among the rock formations and tide pools.
The inside of the heritage farm is off-limits to visitors, although you can still admire the classic buildings from outside. Traditional farming methods are still in use to this day through agreement with park authorities.
Meanwhile, Ruckle Provincial Park Campground features a phenomenal location right on the water and has a variety of sites, some sheltered in the huge cedar and Douglas fir trees while others sit perched on the bluffs on a grassy meadow overlooking Swanson channel where you can be entertained watching pleasure boats and the ferries pass by. Those Ruckle Park camping spots are pretty spectacular but also very exposed, so you may want to base your decision on the weather forecast.
Most of the sites are tent-only but there are also some RV sites set back in the trees. Every site has a picnic table and water tap, plus there are pit toilets, recycling bins and firewood for sale (although fire bans are common in summer). Only 10 of the walk-in sites and 4 of the vehicle sites are reservable through BC Parks and the rest are first come, first served.
While there are hikes scattered throughout Ruckle Park, the excellent Ruckle Provincial Park Shoreline Trail is well-marked and hits all the top highlights, including lovely King’s Cove. If you don’t feel like completing the entire loop you can easily just follow it as far as you choose along the coast before turning back. Or you can even extend the walk another kilometre or so to Yeo Point Beach.
7 km / 2 hrs / 130m elevation gain
Dogs are allowed in most areas on-leash only, although there are some sections where dogs are not allowed at all due to livestock in the vicinity.
20 walk-in (with tent pads)
8 drive-in (no hookups)
Ruckle Provincial Park Campground Prices
$20 per site
$5/$1 per extra adult/child per night
Firewood for sale
10 km from the Fulford Harbour ferry terminal along Beaver Point Road
Just 10 of the walk-in sites and 4 of the drive-in sites are reservable, the rest are available only on a first come, first served basis.
Website: BC Parks
Mowhinna Creek Campground
Best Salt Spring Island RV Park
If you like the natural aspects of camping (big trees!) but would prefer not to give up the creature comforts of hotel living (i.e. showers), Mowhinna Creek Campground provides a good combination. Located just a couple kilometres south of Ganges, it is an easy 30-minute walk (or 2-minute drive) to all the shops and restaurants of town.
Of all the Salt Spring campgrounds, Mowhinna Creek has most facilities, options and comfort among its 50 fairly private sites. Most of the sites are tent-only but there are also 8 full-service RV sites, another dozen RV sites with water and power only and even a pair of basic cabins. This is the only place on Salt Spring Island with enough room for large RVs.
From the beginning of November to the end of February, there are no washroom facilities and only the RV sites are open.
Pets are allowed if kept on-leash.
18 walk-in tent sites
10 drive-in tent sites
12 serviced RV sites (water/power)
8 fully serviced RV sites (water/power/sewage)
2 unfurnished cabins
Mowhinna Creek Campground Prices
Tent sites (walk-in): $35
Tent sites (drive-in): $40
RV sites: $45
RV sites (with sewer): $50
Extra adults beyond 2: $10 per night
Kids under 14 free
Address and Contact Information
515 Fulford-Ganges Road
Cedar Beach Resort
Best Salt Spring Island Campground for Lake Lovers
So much of the appeal of Salt Spring Island camping is geared toward proximity to the ocean with its marine life, activities and views. But there are also some beautiful lakes in the Gulf Islands, offering freshwater swimming, fishing and, in summer at least, much warmer water.
Serene Cedar Beach Resort is a 5-acre forest resort located on gorgeous St. Mary Lake in central Salt Spring Island. Known mostly as a resort of cabins and suites, a lot of people don’t realize they also have 23 fully serviced RV and tenting sites in a wonderful setting among the trees. Sites vary in size from 25-35 feet and all have power, water and sewer.
Tucked away in a lovely, private location with their own private beach, lakefront picnic area and a huge bonfire pit that is a fun gathering spot on warm summer evenings, Cedar Beach Resort is a great choice whether you are looking for a comfortable cabin or a more basic stay. Of course, even the campground has modern washrooms and free hot showers and each site includes power, water and sewer.
If you’re thinking of camping on Salt Spring Island but maybe want to combine some tenting with something a little more luxurious, some of the 1 and 2-bedroom Cedar Beach Resort cabins and duplexes come fully furnished, including a TV, BBQ and beachfront locations. Others are more basic and some are set back in private locations in the trees.
Cedar Beach Resort is open year-round and they also host group gatherings and weddings.
23 fully serviced RV/tent sites
Cedar Beach Resort Campground Prices
RV/Tent sites: $53-58
Premium site: $185
Address and Contact Information
1136 North End Road
Salt Spring Island Glamping
Of course, these days your choices aren’t limited to just the standard tent / RV / cabin list. Now there are many more interesting hybrids to choose from such as glamping (“glamorous camping”) tents and luxury yurts. These Salt Spring Island camping options could be perfect for those looking for something different and unique.
Salt Spring Island Yurt Vacation
Most Exotic Option
Yurts are also known as “gers” in some parts of the world, where they have served as an important form of shelter for millennia. And, as luck would have it, now you can choose to spend your vacation enjoying the pleasures of one of these traditional structures.
Much roomier and more comfortable than a tent but still rustic and homey, the round yurts hidden among the forests of the private, 2-acre Salt Spring Island Yurt Vacation offer a fascinating mix of comfort and eccentricity.
Boasting a tremendous location down in the deep south of Salt Spring Island, they are just across the road from Weston Lake and not far from fantastic Ruckle Provincial Park, with some of the best hiking and scenery on the island. You’ll probably need to have a vehicle, though, as the resort is roughly a 20-minute drive from the main town of Ganges.
There is just the one yurt. Hummingbird Yurt is fully heated, has a loft, a pair of queen beds, full bath with clawfoot tub, heated outdoor shower and fully equipped kitchen. There is a private outdoor patio and wifi, although no cell service. There is a 2-night minimum stay and they do not allow pets.
Salt Spring Yurt Vacation Prices
2 people: $130
4 people: $155
20% discount for weekly stays
Private bath / shower
Fully equipped kitchen
Private outdoor space
Address and Contact Information
Beaver Point Road
Best Place to Pamper Yourself
Once again set in pleasant natural surroundings, Gallery Glamp offers another almost shockingly cushy Salt Spring Island glamping option. The large, well-tended property with huge trees, lovely flowers and quaint gardens close to Ganges also features the Duthie art gallery and sculpture park.
Meanwhile, this amazing safari tent includes a queen bed, private garden, deluxe outhouse, kitchen, propane stove, outdoor terrace and BBQ.
Guests are provided with a coffee maker and local farm provisions for breakfast, including homemade sour dough bread, eggs, yogurt, milk, granola and juice.
1 safari tent
Gallery Glamp Prices
$220 per night
$390 for 2 nights
$1160 per week
Address and Contact Information
125 Churchill Road
Glamping by the Pond
Best for Secluded Comfort
Close to the Vesuvius ferry terminal, this delightful AirBnB rental offers a large Bell Tent nestled in beside a charming pond. The romantic location feels like your own little world and you are provided with all the amenities and activities needed to enjoy your stay in this beautiful private forest.
There is an outdoor kitchen with a double sink, BBQ, outdoor hot water shower and a compost toilet. The pondside deck is perfect for lounging away warm summer evenings and the tent features a state-of-the-art heating/cooling fan.
There is a wood-fired sauna on-site (availability depends on current fire restrictions), as well as badminton, bocce ball, slackline and children’s kayaks. To reach the tent you have to navigate a short but rather steep dirt path so guests should be relatively mobile.
1 luxury glamping tent
Glamping by the Pond Prices
$225 + AirBnB service fee
Cleaning fee $125
15% weekly discount
Hot water shower
Heat / AC
Address and Contact Information
Salt Spring Island Camping Map
Here is a map of all the Salt Spring camping and glamping options.
Click the star to save this map to your Google Maps – then find it under Saved/Maps (mobile) or Your Places/Maps (desktop)
How to Get to Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island Ferry
There are three different ferry terminals on Salt Spring Island so you need to be sure you’re headed for the right one.
Long Harbour (for Vancouver and the other Gulf Islands)
Fulford Harbour (for Victoria)
Vesuvius (for Nanaimo)
Ferry schedules (and prices) change seasonally so it is important to check all the latest info on the BC Ferries website. Long-distance routes can be reserved in advance but inter-island ferries are first come, first served.
Ferry to Salt Spring Island from Vancouver
Regular ferries run back and forth between Tsawwassen terminal and Long Harbour. Certain days of the week there may be a direct ferry (1.5 hrs) but most stop off at the other Gulf Islands along the way (2-3 hrs). The other alternative for Vancouver is to take the ferry from Fulford Harbour to Swartz Bay-Victoria (30 min) and transfer to a Tsawwassen ferry from there (1.5 hrs).
Ferry to Salt Spring Island from Victoria
Ferries between Fulford Harbour and Swartz Bay (near Sidney, for Victoria) go every hour or two throughout the day and take about half an hour.
Ferry to Salt Spring Island from Crofton
Vesuvius ferry terminal is up in the northwest corner of Salt Spring Island where around a dozen ferries travel back and forth each day to the town of Crofton (25 min), just outside Duncan. This is the ferry you would use to head to Nanaimo and the northern areas of Vancouver Island.
Salt Spring Island Seaplane
Getting around Salt Spring Island
Salt Spring Island is too big to get around on foot and although there are a few buses, they don’t run very often and don’t stop at many of the interesting sites. Therefore, bringing your car (or a rental) across on the ferry is your best bet.
If you are looking to rent a car in Vancouver, we highly recommend Discover Cars. We got a terrific deal booking just a week ahead and were very happy with everything. It is also possible to rent a car on the island at Salt Spring Car & Scooter Rentals, although the selection is limited and they tend to book up quickly. Definitely the place if you’re looking to tour the island on a scooter, though.
Biking has become increasingly popular on the island, although the roads don’t have shoulders and can feel pretty narrow with a bike and two cars all passing each other at the same time.
Campgrounds Near Salt Spring Island
If you are looking to follow up your Salt Spring Island camping excursion with some overnight stops on one or more of the nearby towns or islands, there are some outstanding campgrounds to choose from.
Here are a couple convenient choices not far from the Vesuvius ferry if your top Salt Spring Island campground choices are already full or you simply want to mix it up a bit.
Osborne Bay Resort
This basic, friendly little place right in Crofton is very convenient to the Vesuvius ferry and feels like a slice of nature right in town. They have a large variety of options from tenting sites to full-service RV spots to fully equipped cabins. The views from the waterfront sites are superb and there are modern washrooms, coin laundry, a rec room and a children’s play park.
Chemainus River Campground
Covering 23 acres of gorgeous forest right next to – you guessed it – the Chemainus River, you’ll need to get there early to snag one of the prime sites along the water. Either way, though, you should be able to find a pretty, private site at this friendly place just a few kilometres outside the town of Chemainus.
There are both tent and RV sites, plus coin-operated showers and laundry and a lawn court for bowling and badminton.
Galiano Island is one of the top adventure destinations on BC’s west coast and its natural highlights are popular with hikers, bikers, kayakers and fishing groups.
There are 1-2 ferries per day between Salt Spring Island and Galiano Island. On Saturdays in July and August a water taxi runs back and forth daily as well. The rest of the year you may be able to catch the same boat from Monday to Thursday when it doubles as school and public transportation.
Galiano has one excellent regular campground, plus a rustic boat-in option at the very tip of the island.
Montague Provincial Campground has 44 walk-in campsites, 23 vehicle-accessible sites and 1 group site. There are wheelbarrows available to haul your gear to the walk-in sites, plus potable water, picnic tables, trash bins and pit toilets. There are no showers on-site but public pay showers are available at Sparkles Laundromat in Sturdies Bay.
Montague Harbour Provincial Park is a famous kayaking destination and there are also terrific hiking trails, a wonderful beach and some of the best sunsets anywhere in the Gulf Islands. Supplies and restaurants are available within walking distance at Montague Harbour and reservations can be made through the BC Parks Reservations website.
For a much wilder and more exotic camping experience, head to Dionisio Point Marine Park on the far northeastern tip of Galiano Island. Only accessible by water, this is a truly amazing spot full of cute coves, rocky points and sandy beaches. There are 30 basic sites that are available year-round and cost just $5 per night via self-register at the information shelter or online through BC Parks.
Actually comprised of two different islands – North and South – divided by a man-made channel, Pender Island is a wildly scenic and gloriously quiet place to get away from the relative hustle and bustle of Salt Spring Island or Galiano Island. It boasts some incredible viewpoints at Gowlland Point, Mortimer Spit and Magic Lake and is the perfect choice for those looking for something a little bit off the beaten path.
There are only 1-2 ferries per day between Salt Spring Island and Pender Island so you’ll have to plan your travels accordingly. Pender Island has a couple good camping options, both of which can be booked through the Parks Canada Reservations page.
Prior Centennial Campground has 17 basic drive-in sites set in luxurious forest on North Pender Island just a short drive from the Otter Bay ferry terminal. There is potable water, pit toilets, fire rings, some great hiking trails and a popular disc golf course.
Shingle Bay Campground is also relatively close to the ferry terminal and is a popular choice with kayakers because of the nice, sheltered rocky beach. After a steep walk down from the rather small parking area you’ll find 10 sites that are pretty basic but enjoy a very spectacular location. There are picnic areas, a pit toilet and, well, that’s about it. But the views, oh my.
One of the more eclectic of the Southern Gulf Islands, tiny Mayne Island features some awesome Japanese Gardens, one of the nicest lighthouses in the province and Miner’s Bay, which was at one time the most important harbour on the Canadian Pacific Coast.
Once again, there are usually 1-2 ferries per day between Mayne Island and Salt Spring Island. Mayne Island Camping is the only place to set up a tent on the island and it offers 12 lovely walk-in sites next to a beautiful, rocky beach. Some sites are waterfront, others are set back in the shelter of the trees.
Fairly close to the ferry terminal, there are well-kept outhouses, an outside sink, tree shower, a swimming dock and boat launch.
When to Visit: Salt Spring Camping Weather
As with most of the Gulf Islands in British Columbia, summer offers the best camping weather on Salt Spring Island (25/13C high/low and very little rain). The Southern Gulf Islands already get less rain than anywhere on the BC coast and in summer that drops to almost nothing. Summer is also when most festivals and activities take place.
However, the weather is fairly mild all year-round (7/2C in January) and some of the campgrounds are open year-round so a winter visit can make sense for those who prefer to enjoy nature without the crowds. Of course, it won’t be warm, per se, it will rain more and a lot of the shops and restaurants either close or keep limited hours.
In general, the shoulder seasons (May/June or September/October) often provide the ideal mix of great weather and fewer people.
Trip Planning Resources
Here is a list of the most important resources we use when planning our travels, all in one convenient spot. Full disclosure, when you use any of these links to reserve or sign up for something, we receive a small commission which is greatly appreciated. However, your price does not change and we have only included products and websites that we can honestly recommend.
- For checking out flights we usually find that SkyScanner is the fastest and most accurate site.
- We book the majority of our hotels on Booking.com. With frequent stay discounts, thousands of reviews and free cancellation, it is very rare for us to have a bad hotel experience these days.
- Wise is by far the best international multicurrency bank account we’ve found. We can now send and receive money in half a dozen different currencies, convert to dozens more with no exchange premium and pay or withdraw local currencies. Highly recommended.
- When travelling we always get SIM cards with data for our phones. Local SIM cards are sometimes a bit cheaper but if you have a relatively new smartphone (iPhone XR or newer, Samsung S20 or newer) you can just buy an eSIM online, get a QR code by email and you’re good to go. After extensive research I have decided that KeepGo eSIMs have the best coverage and prices for most of our trips.
- If you’re interested in local guided tours, including everything from city tours to cooking lessons to adventure activities, check out the huge range of options at Get Your Guide.
- World Nomads offers some of the best global travel insurance coverage. It is especially good for frequent travellers and digital nomads but also has competitive plans for short trips.
Salt Spring Island Camping Summary
Camping on Salt Spring Island BC is one of the most popular things to do on this gorgeous island. With stunning scenery, exceptional weather and more outdoor activities than you can shake a kayak paddle at, spending a few nights in one of the amazing Salt Spring Island campgrounds can be a truly memorable experience.
Add in the bevy of different options – from basic tenting sites to luxurious yurts and glamping tents – and it is easy to see why camping on Salt Spring Island should be on your summer priority shortlist.
Other BC camping guides you may want to check out: