Last June, I took a road trip from Vancouver, BC to Kokanee Creek, BC and camped along the way. While in the city of Nelson, I met a couple people while dining in a recommended restaurant who told me to take the “longest, most scenic free ferry in the world” that was in Balfour. Just twenty minutes away.
At the ferry dock, there were a few shops and eateries. The one I tried was a bakery that had the most amazing scones and coffee. The day was bright, sunny and warm, so I enjoyed my food at a table outdoors while waiting for the ferry to arrive.
The ferry ride was worth the wait. Kootenay Lake was beatiful and the mountains were incredible. It was an inspiring trip to say the least. Plus, it was free!
Once on the island, I drove a short distance to Crawford Bay. This little town is big on artisans, and worth the trip itself. There was a blacksmith, a Norse artist selling Viking crafts (including shields!), and a great cafe where I enjoyed a delicious sandwich while writing.
The Viking (a real Viking!) who owns and creates the wares for Norse Arts is worth going to meet and chat with. But be aware–he is a bit eccentric and gruff. While a passionate artist (he told me four times not to take photos even though I wasn’t), he’ll tell you his history of his people while requesting to know your background as well. (He was glad that I was Irish, and felt a kinship to me for having similar backgrounds.)
This was probably my favourite stop. One day I hope to return to buy one his amazing shields to hang in my home.
This photo makes Black Salt Cafe look empty, but it was actually full and I had to wait a few minutes for a table. This is a well-loved spot by the community, and local friends recommended it as the place to go while visiting.
Once I had finished my meal and looking around, I considered going on a hike to the local lighthouse but then (10 minutes into the hike) chose to turn back since I was actually ill-prepared to be on a hike with no cell service. I instead returned to the ferry dock for some coffee while waiting for the ferry.
I went inside the Ladybug Cafe, but then saw they only took cash. I had no more cash on me, so was about to turn back when the owner said, “Have a coffee on me.” I tried to decline the generous offer, but she insisted and I gratefully accepted. What amazing people!
If ever you’re in the area, I recommend Crawford as a place to visit. The ferry, the shops, the cafes, and the island itself, are all a mixture of wonderment and joy. You’ll be refreshed by nature and leave feeling a connection to those who call this island home.