Exploring Orcas Island
Step onto horseshoe-shaped Orcas Island, drop your suitcase or backpack, and drink in the green paradise the locals call “the emerald isle” and “the gem of the San Juans” -- a happy combination of stunning shoreline, the highest mountain in the islands, and a handful of charming hamlets. Discover this beautiful island through a Scenic Byway driving tour.
Most of Orcas Island’s 57 square miles are rural and hilly, a challenge for cyclists and a pleasure for drivers, with curving roads that wind through forests and past artists’ studios, fields with old apple barns, and the occasional turn-of-the-century prune dryer.
Visit one of the nation’s most beautiful parks to hike, bike, swim, or explore—the 5,252-acre Moran State Park, with several lakes and more than 38 miles of hiking trails. There, you can drive, bike, or hike up Mount Constitution, the islands’ highest point, for a spectacular view of island-dotted sea and snow-capped Mount Baker.
Head out on the water on a kayak trip (guided or alone), whale-watching tour, or fishing or sailboat charter. You can book any of these adventures on the island, as well as rent bikes and check out guided horseback rides.
At the center of Orcas Island, at the top of a beautiful fjord, Eastsound is a walker’s village, alive with art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and visitor attractions. Enjoy strolling among historic homes and buildings from the 1880s and picnicking on the village green, summer home of the Saturday Farmers’ Market and live music performances. In the heart of town lies the not-to-be-missed Orcas Island Historical Museum, bursting with island artifacts and photos, with six settlers’ cabins on the grounds. The Funhouse Commons and Orcas Center are a short walk or drive just north of the village.
Olga, Doe Bay and Deer Harbor
South of Moran State Park, the little hamlet of Olga is famous for its artists’ co-op, Orcas Island Artworks, with an extensive selection of pottery, painting, jewelry, art glass, fiber and wood by more than 50 island artists. You’ll find it housed in a historic 1936 strawberry packing plant along with the popular Cafe Olga, a charming eatery renowned for its homemade cinnamon rolls and delicious fresh-baked pies.
Past Olga on the water, you’ll come upon Doe Bay Resort & Retreat, where you can dine over the water at the Doe Bay Café on mostly organic food, often harvested just hours earlier. A rustic Northwest icon, Doe Bay Resort & Retreat offers lodging, massage, yoga, sea kayaking, hot tubs and relaxing Adirondack chairs overlooking the spectacular water view.
On the other side of the island, at the farthest western point, Deer Harbor is a hub for all things marine -- kayak (and bike) rentals, whale/wildlife tours, sailing excursions, power and sailboat rentals, and Deer Harbor Marina which features the Marina Barge Gift Shop -- along with a wood sculptor’s studio, eateries and lodgings.
Potters, jewelers, painters, photographers, sculptors -- Orcas Island draws artists like salmon draw orcas. Just a few examples (in addition to Orcas Island Artworks co-op in Olga) include Crow Valley Pottery, near the golf course south of Eastsound, features the works of more than 70 artists (there’s a gallery in downtown Eastsound, too), as well as Orcas Island Pottery, the oldest pottery in the Northwest, and the Lambiel Museum, a private collection of works by San Juan Islands artists.
From waterfront cabin resorts to elegant hillside B&Bs to a wide variety of vacation rentals, Orcas Island lodging can fit any need. With its many parks, shorelines, hamlets, and galleries to explore and its multitude of activities, make sure and plan your visit long enough to enjoy all Orcas Island has to offer.
"Orcus Island" or "Orca Island", visitors sometimes get confused. However you choose to spell it, you will be welcome there.
On Orcas Island, come by Pawki's for healthy, natural foods and treats, toys to amuse and exercise your pets (and yourself!), items for pet care and grooming, travel supplies and a wide variety of accessories and gifts. We love to share info about local pet resources. Our shop is in Eastsound, across from the water, just east of the Outlook Inn. Pets welcome! [more...]
In the tiny hamlet of Olga on Orcas Island, there is a small post office, a small dock and beach, which act as a Marine State Park for Moran State Park, which is just a mile or so up the road. Cafe Olga and Artworks artist co-op are currently conducting business in Eastsound because of a fire in the building, originally a strawberry packing plant that shipped fruit to the mainland until the early 1900s. You can visit Olga Pottery and watch for the Olga Daze celebration or pot luck dinners at the Olga Energetics Club. [more...]
Cherie L. Lindholm Real Estate (est. 1968) is one of the oldest full service real estate companies on Orcas Island.
We're family; not a franchise! Serving this island for over a quarter century, our company offers a full line of real estate services. [more...]
Orcas Island Realty began over 60 years ago as a pioneer in Orcas Island Real Estate Sales and remains one of the strongest and most respected brokerages in the islands. Then as now, people were drawn here by the island’s stunning beauty, relaxed lifestyle, and self-reliant neighbors. The infectious charm can be felt with the first step off the ferry. [more...]
The Orcas Island Historical Museum is the only object-based, interpretive heritage facility for Orcas Island, with a permanent collection comprised of approximately 6000 objects, paper documents and photographs. In the 1950s and 1960s, various island families donated six original homestead cabins built during the 1870s and the 1890s to the Society. Volunteers disassembled the structures at their original sites, then moved, reconstructed and linked the structures together to create the main museum facility. The 100-year-old cabins serve as a space for interpreting island history as told through the life stories and material culture of the Native American and early European-American settlers of this area. [more...]
Located on North Beach Road in Eastsound, the Orcas Chamber of Commerce offers information about touring beautiful Orcas Island, including maps, lodging availability, restaurants and activities. Sign up for weekly updates on the chamber website at www.orcasislandchamber.com, and you'll be up to date on all the upcoming events, including farmers' market days, musical and theatre performances, parades and more. [more...]
Your visit to secluded Obstruction Pass State Park, named for nearby Obstruction Island, takes you to not only the longest beach on Orcas but also one of the San Juans’ most unusual—a crescent of ocean-smoothed, marble-sized pebbles in rainbow colors. Hike in half a mile to one of the 80-acre park’s 11 first-come, first-served primitive campsites, land your kayak on Pebble Beach, or anchor out at one of three moorings. Many campsites overlook the water; vault toilets and fire pits. [more...]
Orcas Island's dog park is located adjacent to the Port of Orcas Day Park at the corner of Mt. Baker and North Beach Roads, just north of Eastsound. If you are driving, the entrance to the parking lot is on North Beach Road. It's about an acre in size with grassy and wood-chipped areas, dog water, Mutt Mitts, a dog "toy box" and picnic tables. There is a new shelter where dogs can park their humans while they get on with the important business of playing. [more...]
Like many of Orcas Island's many small villages, West Sound has been settled for centuries, first by Coast Salish tribes, then homesteaders, fishermen and boaters. The Orcas Island Yacht Club is situated on what was once some of the best orchard land on Orcas Island, and looks out over a charming marina towards the privately owned Picnic Island. There are several bed and breakfast inns in the area, as well as the Kingfish Inn and West Sound Cafe and Red Rabbit Farm, which serves farm-to-table dinners throughout the summer. [more...]
Eastsound, at the head of the large fjord of East Sound, is Orcas Island's largest village, and the hub of business and activity on this, the largest of the San Juan Islands. Grab a cup of coffee and wander the streets of this little burg any time of year, and you'll see galleries featuring local artists, farm-to-table restaurants, and yoga studios, as well as stylish boutiques, excellent bakeries and a well-stocked bookstore. [more...]
Atop the 2,409-foot-high Mt. Constitution, the highest point on the San Juan Islands, there stands a stone observation tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936. The tower offers panoramic views of the surrounding islands, the Cascade Mountains and a variety of Canadian and American cities. Inside the tower, a historical display shows the story of the tower's construction and the history of Robert Moran, the shipbuilder and former Seattle mayor who donated this land starting in 1911 and worked toward the development of the park, which was dedicated in 1921. [more...]
Moran State Park on Orcas Island is a 5,252-acre camping park with five freshwater lakes, 38 miles of hiking trails, picnic shelters, horseback riding, boat rentals and more. Near the summit of Mt. Constitution, a gift shop and learning center operated by the Friends of Moran offers maps, gifts, cards and information about the park and its history. The park is open year-round for camping and day use, and you can reserve ahead online, or check at the park entrance for availability. Reservations necessary Memorial Day through Labor Day. [more...]
Tucked between two peninsulas on Orcas Island's west side, Deer Harbor is a scenic 20-minute drive from the ferry landing where you’ll find one of the few sandy beaches in the Islands. At its heart lies the Deer Harbor Marina.
In this small gem of a village, choose from a small but quality selection of lodging, from cozy B&B's to individual cabins overlooking the marina. Get picnic food, grilled burgers, sandwiches and snacks at the Dock Store or enjoy the casual elegance of dinner at Deer Harbor Inn Restaurant. [more...]