Stepping onto Orcas Island is like stepping back in time. To a place where folks smile and wave at each other, where water meets sand and the sound rushes through you while the cool sea breeze swipes your worries away. With a fabulous ferry ride behind you, your now ready to wined through beautiful country farms and magical hillsides of pottery, or cozy up in a seaside hotel with a fabulous meal.
The possibilities are endless on Orcas! You can have a rugged outdoorsy vacation or enjoy the life of luxury all within a 30 minute drive! You’re on Island Time now!
When looking for an outdoors adventure, head to one of the best parts of Orcas Island, Moran State Park. You can spend an entire week here and still be in awe of this natural wonder. Hiking through old growth Cedar forests with moss hanging from every tree and little streams making paths through the forest floor on your way to numerous gorgeous waterfalls is just the beginning. All of the hiking trails are very well maintained and they open up to mountain biking in the fall and winter too! After a good hike or if your the sort that would rather kick back and relax with a good book and a fishing pole you wont be disappointed because Orcas has 5 freshwater lakes that are stocked with trout and bass and have easily accessible boat rentals or public fishing docks. Once you’ve taken in the beauty from below the canopy, rise above on Mt. Constitution where you can soak up views of all the San Juan Islands and neighboring Vancouver BC as well.
Rosario Resort is closely connected with Moran State park and equally as interesting! You must explore this resort for yourself when visiting Orcas and trust me, you wont be disappointed! The beautifully landscaped gardens sweep you through the incredible property that’s nestled in East Sound’s Cascade Bay. They have 2 beautiful outdoor pools, tennis courts, and a prized mansion museum and hotel. There’s also a wonderful music hall where they have weekend performances.
Also nestled on this side of the island is the cute little town of East Sound. Here you can find amazing restaurants, a booming farmer’s market, quaint seaside galleries and plenty of ice cream, coffee, and knick-knack shops. They have a great Grocery Store as well called the Island Market, and on a side note… the employees there had the best customer service of any grocery store I’ve ever shopped at! It’s sad to say, but that is a real treat these days!
With Orcas being the largest of the San Juan Islands it’s easy to spend a week or more exploring not only east sound but the west side of the island as well! There is a fabulous pizza parlor “Island Pie” at Deer Harbor marina that can’t be beat. And after dinner you can take a relaxing sunset stroll on the docks or a nice walk around the little beach.
Make sure to check out West Beach Resort! This is my #1 recommendation for an amazing place to stay! They have everything you need for an all inclusive experience with beautiful seaside cabins and tent sites, boat rentals, restaurant you name it. It’s a classy casual environment where everyone is having a great time for a reasonable price.
Not to far from West Beach Resort is Orcas Island Pottery… a magical place where nature meets the kiln and art is born! Literally, you drive up a lush, fern and cedar tree covered hillside into a tiny neighborhood of bohemian style homes that make up an incredible shopping experience. You wander through trellised vines and tall ornamental grasses into a garden of beautiful flora and fauna, an architectural marvel of a treehouse, and multiple buildings displaying pottery from many different talented artists in the community. It’s a piece of Orcas Island that you have to experience yourself to truly understand this gentle, peaceful island.
Orcas is a place that is best described by it’s wildlife. Everywhere you turn you see a doe and her fawn feeding on the grass or rabbits nibbling off the blackberry bushes. Nothing is fearful here! The wildlife and sea life are plentiful and nature rules on these remote Islands because the people who call them home take great pride in keeping it that way. So thank you and hopefully you all have the chance to experience Orcas Island!