Over the past Easter long weekend, a longtime friend and I booked an Airbnb on Salt Spring Island to basically relax, unplug from all forms of electronics, unInternet, unFacebook, and enjoy what nature the island has to provide. This is the first time I travelled without my laptop, and I did not regret it at all! In this post I’ll share my experience staying at Moontide Farm via Airbnb and what it was like to spend the weekend at Salt Spring Island!
The Trek: BC Ferries
The route we took was to first go from Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal with a layover at Swartz Bay in Sidney, BC, and then take the second ferry to Fulford Harbour Ferry Terminal at Salt Spring. This is the long way to get there which took up a total of 4 hours (give or take), but there are routes from Tsawwassen straight to Salt Spring Island via Long Harbour Terminal non-stop, which would take around 1.5 hours (I’ll get to why we took the long way). When headed to the west coast islands, I highly recommend making reservations a week in advance so you get the ferry time slot you want, especially for holidays and long weekend trips.
We started out from Richmond, BC and took the car down to Tsawwassen to first dock at Swartz Bay. THINKING that we could stay at Swartz Bay for however long we wanted, we took the long way to Salt Spring Island hoping we could swing down to downtown Victoria for a few hours before catching a ferry to Fulford Harbour. We spoke to the help desk after docking at Swartz Bay and the agent essentially said you have to stick to the schedule you booked. Hence, we made a U-ie and lined up for our next ferry. Oh well, now we know.
View from the BC Ferry via Swartz Bay-Fulford Harbour route
Built in 1974, this Airbnb is a horse farm that houses 4 horses, 3 dogs (parents + puppy), 2 colts, a cat somewhere, and one sweet lady named Barb who was our host for the weekend. The property is located in West of Ganges by the inlet, just a 2 min drive or a 45 min walk to the Town Centre of Ganges (I know, big difference, but trust me the walk is so enjoyable you barely feel it). There’s a 2-bedroom house and a separate cottage Barb rents out to Airbnb guests, and all amenities are basically shared, so you will have to keep in mind you won’t get the bathroom/shower any time you want, although we had no problems at all during our stay. We rented the Cherry Tree Room which is more than enough space for 2 people and includes a separate entrance in case you feel anti-social going through the rest of the house running into people (but don’t be a loner!). There is no wifi on the property, but they provide a cable for you to plug into the internet. The living room is a big open space where you can do some serious hanging out and chat with other guests if the other room is occupied. What I love about this communal space is the wood-burning fireplace… so homey. Her dogs hang out there all the time and if you take their spot, they respectfully wait until they can reclaim their throne. The kitchen can be used at your leisure if you don’t want to eat out all the time.
Cherry Tree Room with Separate Entrance
Communal Kitchen. Check. Out. That. Countertop.
Communal Living Room
In term of housekeeping rules, just be respectful of others! We shared the place with a family of four (with a little 7 year old and a 2 year old) across the hall, and they were very nice and sociable. The kids (super adorable by the way) were very polite and quiet – a relief for us and Barb that they weren’t screaming and naughty. Horses graze around the property freely so you can get up close and pet one if you choose. They are friendly but like any other mammals bigger than you, just approach with caution. One colt got super friendly with me and nibbled on my elbow which took me by surprise. And no you do not get to ride them.
Horses roaming freely on the property
Colt sniffing a cat. Because he can.
Backyard of Moontide Farm facing the inlet. Just grab your morning coffee or tea and get some serious fresh air.
Now for breakfast. I think a picture says a thousand words. Essentially you get healthy and locally made granola mixture, freshly chopped fruits and yogurt as the first course, and then pancakes/french toast with local, organic eggs made to your liking. Coffee and tea can be served any time when requested. Breakfast will be served to you any time you want to wake up and get your day started!
The set up every morning. I don’t think my pictures do it justice.
A hearty breakfast served fresh every morning.
Coffee and Tea at any time.
Overall, the entire experience is nothing like other Airbnbs I’ve stayed at, where usually you get the keys and you stay there like you would at a hotel/motel with little interactions with people. At Moontide Farm, it felt like a luxurious and safe hostel where you meet neighbours from time to time as they visit, drop by for a cup of sugar, or just sitting around the fireplace chatting. Price is very reasonable especially if you’re not the type that minds shared amenities. Be ready to be a people person!
The People & the Community
Like most islands and smaller communities on the west coast, Salt Spring Islanders are very friendly and approachable. With a population of approximately 10,500, locals are mostly made up of farmers, artisans, craftspeople, and health & wellness professionals. The island is a community watch so essentially everybody knows everybody and it’s a pretty safe place to explore.
One thing I noticed was that hitchhiking is very common in the area. I’ve seen people who simply flag down cars to get a lift to town (it’s one main road mostly so it’s never too out of the way I suppose), and half the time they seem to know each other anyway. When my friend and I decided to take the 45 min walk to town for a nice stroll, passing cars would stop and ask us if we need a lift! When you live in an urbanized city all your life, being away from the hustle and bustle of people who mostly keep to themselves is a nice change in scenery. That’s how I feel anyway!
Need a lift?
Long Harbour in Salt Spring Island, BC
The Happenings and What We Did
So that was the Saturday we decided to take a stroll, and coincidentally, the Easter long weekend jump starts The Famous Saturday Market, where you can check out local arts & crafts, snacks, food, fresh organic produce, and everything the island has to offer! Market opens every Saturday from Easter long weekend until October from 9:00am to 4:00pm. We saw We saw all types of arts and crafts by the locals, including the glass decorations Barb makes in her workshop (did I mention the host of Moontide Farm is also a glassmaker?). We also saw kids setting up their own stands selling their goodies, from handmade cards to oatmeal chocolate chip cookies… parents sure know how train the next generation of entrepreneurs! Some shots below. I took more videos than I did photos and I’m debating whether I have enough footage to make a short Youtube thing… stay tuned?
If you’re into authentic Italian cuisine, check this place out! They make their pasta and sauce fresh, and they have gluten free choices as well. You can taste the difference when you take a bite into their pasta! We didn’t order the pizza so can’t tell you much there. A quaint little gem and worth the visit.
If I were to visit Salt Spring again, I’d most likely stay at Moontide Farm again or a very similar structured Airbnb on the island. Maybe an organic apple farm next time?