Orcas Island Scenic Byway
This self-guided tour features highlights of the Emerald Isle
This beautiful and rugged island ranges from quiet beaches to the 2,409-foot-summit of Mt. Constitution. One main road connects the various hamlets on Orcas, and this 2- to 3-hour tour touches on the island’s highlights and hidden gems, such as the 75-year-old Orcas Island Pottery. Most stops are part of the state San Juan Islands Scenic Byway, designated for their unique beauty and cultural significance.
8368 Orcas Rd, Orcas
The Orcas Island ferry lands at Orcas Village, a tiny hamlet with a few shops, a post office, historic hotel and an excellent grocery store. Although generally quiet, "the Landing," as it is called by locals, is a meeting place for travelers and commuters. On Friday nights at Octavia's Bistro, named after the Orcas Hotel's first owner - and renown cook - you can enjoy jazz and a glass of local wine.
Deer Harbor Rd., West Sound
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 Café, and Red Rabbit Farm, which serves farm-to-table dinners throughout the summer.
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 tiny 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 a casual dinner at Deer Harbor Inn Restaurant.
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, massage and yoga studios, as well as stylish boutiques, excellent bakeries, a well-stocked bookstore and food co-op.
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 theater performances, parades and more.
The Orcas Island Historical Museum is the only object-based, interpretive heritage facility for Orcas Island, with a permanent collection comprised of approximately 6,000 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 museum.
A treasured Orcas Island destination for visitors and locals alike, the Artworks in Olga offers one of the finest selections of local art and crafts in the San Juan Islands. The co-op represents forty-five Orcas Island artists and craftspeople, working in pottery, sculpture, jewelry, glass, wood, paintings, prints, wearable art, fiber and more. As the gallery is owned and operated by the artists themselves, there is the unique opportunity to meet one or more of them on any given day.