The San Juan Islands is a beautiful archipelago nestled between Vancouver and Washington State. Orcas Island is the biggest island in this archipelago and it offers the enticing opportunity to escape the city and explore the great outdoors. Hike alongside stunning waterfalls, enjoy lovely views while kayaking, or go whale watching on a boating adventure. There are so many fun things to do for the whole family on Orcas Island. If you are ready to retreat to paradise, then read on for our 5 tips for visiting Orcas Island.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Like most tourist destinations, the summer brings the best weather but also the largest crowds and peak prices. If you want to enjoy your time on the island without breaking the bank, then visit during the shoulder months (April – May, September – October). These months are a little cooler, which is nice for hiking, and the accommodation prices are not as steep.
GETTING TO ORCAS ISLAND
Getting to Orcas Island from Seattle is part of the adventure. There is not a ferry to Orcas directly from Seattle, so instead, you will need to fly directly to the island or drive to Anacortes first and then catch the ferry.
Kenmore Air flies directly to Orcas Island from several locations, including the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. If you plan to drive to Sea-Tac Airport, then be sure to book your Sea-tac parking in advance to save a little extra on your trip. You can find great discounts online and have your parking spot reserved for when you arrive, win-win!
If you would rather take the ferry, then you’ll need to drive from Seattle to Anacortes north on I-5. Then, you will board the ferry to take you to Orcas. If you have made a reservation for the ferry, then you should arrive at least 30 minutes early, if you haven’t made a reservation, then you should arrive up to two hours early. The ferry ride takes about an hour and a half to reach Orcas Island, but the whole ride is a relaxing and marvelous experience.
THINGS TO DO ON ORCAS ISLAND
Hiking is one of the best experiences on Orcas Island. Don’t miss the Moran State Park for incredible panoramic views of the island and the mountains. Downtown Orcas Island is idyllic and perfect for shopping in quaint boutiques, grabbing a cup of coffee, and relaxing in a bookstore. Head to the Crescent Beach Reserve for a relaxing day at the beach and soak in the gorgeous surroundings. Other activities and tours can be arranged like fishing, whale watching, and kayaking.
WHAT TO PACK
Located in the Pacific Northwest, Orcas Island can still feel cool and wet even in the summertime. If you plan to go sailing, then you might want to bring a fleece jacket to keep your warm on the boat. Always bring rain gear because you never know when it might rain! Of course, always bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat for those sunny days when you are at the beach or hiking the mountains. Stay hydrated by bringing a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go.
WHERE TO STAY
The best thing about Orcas Island is that many of the accommodations are locally owned and operated, so you know you’ll always be greeted with charming hospitality. There are a wide range of accommodations to complete your island getaway. Take your pick from luxury resorts, rustic cabins, cozy bed and breakfasts, and hip hotels. Search the Orcas Island lodging website to find something within your budget and preferences.