Between the Rosario Strait (along mainland Washington State) and Haro Strait (bordering Vancouver Island) is an archipelago called the San Juan Islands. These islands are a hot spot destination for delicious food, rugged coastlines and beautiful water. The largest island, Orcas, is the ultimate outdoors getaway to experience the pristine natural landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.
The main town on the island, Eastsound, has everything you need, from a supermarket to watersports and bike rentals and waterfront views from the heart of downtown. Arguably the most popular destination on the island is Moran State Park, which aside from the 30+ miles of hiking trails and multiple freshwater lakes, also encompasses Mount Constitution, the highest point on the island. At 2,409 feet, Mount Constitution also has an observation tower at the summit built more than 100 years ago.
From the tower, hikers can feast their eyes on stunning water vistas, the rest of the San Juan Islands and even a few cities in Canada.
Yet another state park on the island, Obstruction Pass State Park is one of the few places on the island with an accessible public beach, located a half-mile from the trail head. Make a point to explore off island in the surrounding waters. The islands are a stunning natural habitat. Fishing and wildlife tours, including whale watches where you’re likely to see orcas, bring visitors closer to the endemic aquatic life.
The island has a strong community culture, accessible through the farmers’ market at the Eastsound Village Green, art galleries and studios speckling the island, and the Orcas Island Historical Museum. The historical society relocated six original homestead cabins to the new location in Eastsound, which also holds more than 6,000 artifacts, documents and photos.
The arts scene is encapsulated in two centers for the arts on the island. Orcas Island Artworks in Olga is a co-op of 45 island-based crafts people. Orcas Center is the performing arts venue that produces more than 40 shows a year.
Located on the southwest side of Orcas Island, this full-service marina is an ideal stop for transients as it provides moorings, amenities, a fuel dock and The Barge Gift Shop. The marina is close to attractions, hotels and dining options.
A family-owned full-service marina complete with dry storage and a repair crane. Close to the Turtleback Mountain Preserve, it’s the largest marina on the island and open year-round with six transient spaces.
Brandt’s Landing Marina
One of the few marinas located on the north side of the island, Brandt’s offers family-run services. A canal was excavated to form this marina, which is a good location to explore the northern San Juan Islands and Canadian Gulf Islands.
Matia is one of Washington’s most critically acclaimed restaurants. With seasonal farm-to-table fare highlighting the region, its tasting menu changes daily to ensure a
unique dining experience.
The Mansion Restaurant at Rosario Resort & Spa is tucked away on a woodland peninsula. Enjoy the menu of local seafood and produce in a dining room overlooking Cascade Bay. Check out the Moran Lounge in the mansion’s original living room and Cascade Bay Grill & Store overlooking the marina.
Traditional French techniques and dishes are married with local ingredients at the cozy cafe in Eastsound. The two partner bakers are graduates of the San Francisco Baking Institute and churn out small batches all day to ensure freshness.