Orcas Island is the largest and most mountainous of all the San Juan Islands and the second most populated. Unlike San Juan Island, the ferry to Orcas will not drop you off in town. The road to Eastsound – the social hub of the island – stretches 8 miles from the ferry landing. If visitors have boarded the ferry without a car, they will find transportation to Eastsound in the taxis that run every day and the shuttle service offered on weekends.
The Horseshoe Highway leads all the way to Olga. Cyclists can take Crow Valley Road to avoid the ferry traffic on Horseshoe Highway. Orcas’ terrain is challenging and full of hills, but bikers will find that the lush topography makes the ride worth the effort.
Eastsound is home to restaurants and bakeries offering coffee, sandwiches, soups and seafood. Art lovers, foodies, and deer lovers alike will enjoy the local fare on Orcas Island.
Freshwater lakes are a popular feature on Orcas Island. Cascade Lake is a part of Moran State Park, offering boat rentals, a swimming area, picnic shelters, and three campgrounds. Kilbrew Lake is known for its birdwatching. For sightseeing, Mount Constitution towers over the entire San Juan archipelago. Hikers, bikers, and drivers can all be seen on the way up. If you’re hiking, Mt. Constitution Loop trail is a steep 6.6 miles. Bikers will find 19 different mountain bike trails spanning over 29 miles throughout the park.
The roads, bridges and historical tower of Mount Constitution were all constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
The southeast side of the island offers Deer Harbor, a relaxing and laid-back community with a small sandy beach, marina store and a small grill that also serves local Lopez Island ice cream. The marina has 110 slips for transient moorage, along with showers and bathrooms.
Olga sits 8 miles south of Eastsound. There you can walk the long wooden dock and take in the views or grab a bite at Buck Bay Shellfish farm.
Doe Bay Resort is a popular destination with rustic treehouse accommodations and spa amenities.
Rosario Resort is peaceful and historical. The hotel was once the personal mansion of Robert Moran, a Seattle shipbuilder. The 54-room mansion has been converted to a restaurant, spa, hotel and museum. Visitors can walk through the Morans’ private living quarters, the organ room and library.
Orcas Island often leaves visitors wondering how soon they will be able to enjoy another vacation on this mountainous Eden in the sea.
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