What are some of the best things to do in Orcas Island?
After all, when you think about the island of Orcas Island, what normally comes to mind?.
Well for starters, Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest, which is located in the northwestern region of the state of Washington. And from the 2010 census, the population of the island was recorded to be hovering around over 5,300 people.
The island was also named by the Spanish explorers in honor of the viceroy of Mexico, who was a man that had 13 names. One of which was called “Orcasitees”.
But aside from that, what do we really know about the island of Orcas Island?
Well being as it is the largest island of the San Juan Islands, there are bound to be plenty of things for you to see and do. For instance, this island is a beautiful mix of arts and culture, filled with lush forests, pristine lakes, and a variety of different outdoor activities.
In fact, most of Orcas Island is actually pretty rural and hilly, which makes for a great experience for drivers to drive around and explore, as well as being a challenge for many cyclists.
There are also many different parks located here which allows visitors to see some of the most beautiful sights they’ll ever see. With an abundance of hiking trails of all challenges as well as seeing a bunch of different marine vistas. Not only that, but while you are exploring around, you’ll also run into many different kinds of wildlife living in the area too.
And being as how it is an island, you can rest assured that there will also be a variety of different water based activities as well. From swimming to fishing or even sailing around on a boat, the possibilities are endless here.
Which is why if you are wondering exactly what you are able to do here on Orcas Island, then you are in luck.
In this post, we’ll be detailing all the best things to do in Orcas Island.
So if you’re ready, lets get started!
- Things To Do In Orcas Island
- Visit Moran State Park
- Go Whale Watching Around Orcas Island
- Hike Up Mount Constitution
- Go Fishing For Some Amazing Fish
- Go On A Kayak Ride
- Hike Around Turtleback Mountain
- Drink Some Brew At Island Hoppin’ Brewery
- Visit Orcas Island Historical Museum
- Check Out Some Art And Pottery
- Shop At Eastsound Village
- Enjoy The Sunset At Cascade Lake
- Go Sailing Around The Waters
- Play On The Beach At Crescent Beach
- Visit Buck Bay Shellfish Farm
- Enjoy Some Golf At Orcas Island Golf Course
- Drive The Scenic Byway
- Check Out The Nearby Islands
Things To Do In Orcas Island
In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Orcas Island.
Visit Moran State Park
If you never been to Orcas Island before, then one place that you will always hear mentioned, is a place called Moran State Park.
Moran State Park is one of the best state parks to ever visit. It spans a whopping 5,579 acres wide and consists of five freshwater lakes and over 30 miles of various kinds of hiking trails. This park has become one of the most popular destinations for people to visit here on this island.
It is the perfect place to do all your outdoor activities. For instance, with the many lakes surrounding the area, visitors will be able to go fishing, swimming, boating and more. And with the various trails here, you’ll be able to do things like hiking, biking, mountain biking and more. Plus there is also various camp sites around for you to set up and be one with nature.
But that’s not all!
In fact, here at Moran State Park, it is also home to one of the tallest mountains in all of the San Juan Islands. It is here where you’ll be able to find Mount Constitution which stands at about 2,409 feet above sea level. Visitors are able to travel up this mountain from a variety of different methods and be met with a beautiful panoramic view of all of the surrounding regions.
It’s a place where you’ll be able to refresh, renew and expand your horizons with all the different things being offered here. So if you really want to explore nature in its finest moment, then this place is definitely the place to visit.
Go Whale Watching Around Orcas Island
Have you ever seen a whale before?
If not, then here is your chance!
The area of Orcas Island is home to many Orca Whales that live in the surrounding areas. Which means your chances of seeing one of these whales are actually pretty good. It is estimated that there are about 85 of these amazing Southern Resident Killer Whales living in this area.
Now you most likely won’t be able to see these animals just by standing on the island unless you are really lucky. But the best way to see these whales is to simply go on a whale/wildlife watching tour. And here in Orcas Island, you can find many different companies that offer this type of tour.
Visitors who go on these trips will be able to go out on boat into the far waters for the sole reason of seeing these beautiful whales. Aside from that, you might also be lucky enough to see other types of wildlife as well. Some of which includes things like seals, humpbacks, gray whales, bald eagles and porpoises too!
If you are interested in going on one of these tours, you can simply book the tour at the stands in town or online. However you should know that certain months of the year can be very crowded, which means you’ll need to book way in advance in order to have a chance at going on one of these tours.
Overall it is a fantastic experience for both children and adults as you’ll be able to ride the waves and see one of the most amazing creatures to have ever lived. It’ll definitely be an experience you will remember for many years to come.
Hike Up Mount Constitution
If you are really up for a challenge, then one amazing thing you can do here in Orcas Island is to simply hike up to the summit of Mount Constitution.
Mount Constitution, which rises nearly a half-mile from the landscape, is the tallest mountain in all of the San Juans region. It is conveniently located inside the popular Moran State Park.
Visitors who are wanting to hike this mighty beast, need to travel about a 3.4 mile trek each way. It might sound hard, but it is totally worth it! Once you make it up to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful 360 degree panorama view of all the surrounding areas. You’ll be able to see all the islands that surround this area as well as catching a glimpse of the North Cascades as well as seeing Mount Baker.
Although if you are not physically able to hike this mountain or just don’t want to, do not worry. Aside from hiking, visitors are also able to bike their way up or even drive their way up this mountain. All of which will bring you the same type of rewards for going up this mountain.
So if you really want to see some of the most beautiful picturesque views of all of Orcas Island as well as the surrounding areas, then going up Mount Constitution is definitely the best thing you can ever do.
Go Fishing For Some Amazing Fish
Because Orcas Island is an island, you are going to be surrounded by huge bodies of water all around. Not to mention that the island also has several lakes inside it. All of which means that one of the most popular things you can do here is to simply go fishing.
Fishing in Orcas Island is a favorite pastime for many locals and tourists alike. You’ll be able to do both salt water and freshwater as the island has both kinds. Plus you’ll also find many shops in the area that will either sell or rent you fishing equipment for you to use at your leisure.
Simply just find a perfect spot that suits you and start casting your reel. In fact, some of the fishes you can find here icnludes things like Salmon, Rock Cod, Ling Cod, Halibut, Shark, Red Snapper, Steelhead, Sturgeon and more. It’s literally a fishers dream come true as there is so many different varieties of fish available for you to catch.
But that’s not all!
In fact, here on Orcas Island, you can also find many different companies here which will take you out into the ocean to catch some of the bigger fishes. It does cost money, but the experience is totally worth it.
Whether you are a new fisher or an advanced fisher, Orcas Island will certainly fill all your fishing needs. You’ll be able to catch for hours on end all while enjoying yourself being surrounded by some peace and quiet.
Go On A Kayak Ride
Going on a kayak ride is probably one of the most fun and interesting things you can ever do here on Orcas Island. After all, the area of Orcas Island is surrounded by huge bodies of water. Whether it be the ocean or lakes, there is always a body of water for you to have fun on.
And not only that, but there are also plenty of different kayaking companies out here that will be able to rent you a kayak for a really affordable price. You’ll be able to paddle through the calm waters that surrounds you and explore nature in all its glory. Not only that, but while you are paddling around, you’ll also be able to encounter many different types of animals that live here too.
For instance, if you want to kayak yourself out into the open waters, then one of the most interesting animals you can find are Orca Whales. This type of experience is much more enjoyable as you will be able to get up close and personal to this majestic beast. Far better than any whale watching boat can ever do for you.
Or if you prefer a more relaxed route, you can simply go out onto the lakes and just paddle your way around while enjoying the atmosphere and scenic views that surround you. Maybe even watch the sunset go down while your paddling around.
Whatever the case may be, going for a kayak ride here in Orcas Island is definitely an experience you will never forget. It’s extremely relaxing and fun and is definitely something everybody should try doing if they ever get the chance.
Hike Around Turtleback Mountain
Mount Constitution isn’t the only mountain available for you to explore here on Orcas Island.
In fact, if you head towards the western end of Orcas Island, you’ll find a mountain called Turtleback Mountain that is just as amazing as the rest. And just like Mount Constitution, this mountain also offers expansive beautiful views of all the surrounding area.
But aside from the beautiful views you can see at the top of the mountain, this mountain is mostly known for its hiking trails.
For instance, the 8-mile trail network spans the turtle’s “back,” connecting the preserve’s north and south trailheads. This network also connects to an additional 1-mile trail that leads visitors to a awe-inspiring view from atop the turtle’s “head”.
In fact, Turtleback’s trails ranges from gently sloping logging roads or even narrow paths that meander, sometimes steeply, through mixed forests and open meadows.
So whether you are here just to stroll around or maybe even do an all-day adventure hiking around the mountain’s many loops, ridges and overlooks, Turtleback Mountain offers something to experience for all adventure-seekers and casuals alike.
Drink Some Brew At Island Hoppin’ Brewery
Brewery Lovers rejoice!
Here on Orcas Island, you can find the local favorite brewery called “Island Hoppin’ Brewery, that will make all your drinking dreams come true.
Island Hoppin’ Brewery is the islands first and only brewery so far on Orcas Island. Locals and tourists alike who are wanting some good beers to drink will love coming to this spot for their various selections of drinks. They even have a tasting room where you can sample one of their many beers on tap, available in pints or taster flights.
Their flagship drinks include things like “K-Pod Kolsch”, which is a German style ale that drinks like a Jager, “Old Madrona Imperial Red”, which is an imperial red with full malt and hop body for an exceptionally smooth, strong ale, “Doebayisa”, which is a bright and light India Session Ale highlighting the tropical fruits and earthy aromas of Amarillo hops, and more.
They also have a menu of light snacks and bar food ready for you to eat. From things like Smoked Salmon to Cheese Dip or even Samish Bay Cheese Plate and Ice Cream Sandwiches, you will definitely enjoy the selection that they have.
It’s the perfect place to come and relax as you sit on the inside or on the patio, all while enjoying all the delicious beers that they have to offer.
Visit Orcas Island Historical Museum
If you love to learn about various kinds of history, then one place you must visit is “Orcas Island Historical Museum”.
This museum is a pretty interesting and unique museum as it is housed inside a series of six original homesteader cabins that date as far back as to the 1880’s.
The Orcas Island Historical Museum is essentially a museum that is focused on the local history of both Orcas Island and the other surrounding San Juan Islands. It is here where you’ll be able to find a vast collection of historic photographs, weapons, tools and household items that were used all throughout the islands long history.
But that’s not all, in fact you can also learn about the history of the island’s lime-kiln history as well as the first residents that lived here, the North Straits Salish.
This museum is also home to various types of temporary exhibits as well that come and go throughout the years. For instance, their current featured exhibit is about “Women’s Clubs of Orcas Island” which explores the history of three women’s clubs on Orcas Island, as told by the groups themselves.
It’s truly a fantastic place where you can learn so much about the culture and history of Orcas Island as well as the surrounding areas. Definitely one of the best things to do in Orcas Island.
Check Out Some Art And Pottery
One of the most interesting things you can ever do is to check out some art and pottery at “Orcas Island Pottery”.
Orcas Island Pottery is located on West Beach just 3 and a half miles away from Eastsound. They claim to be the oldest pottery studio in the entire Pacific Northwest! In fact, this pottery shop has been part of this islands long history since the late 1940’s and is still continuously being run.
This place is a favorite destination to visit among art lovers as you can find so many interesting things here. Here you’ll be able to find them creating and selling some of the most original and beautiful pottery in the Northwestern United States.
Plus you can find many different potters here all trying to hone their craft at making some beautiful pieces of art. You can find things like plates being made to cups and bowls or even vases and jars. The options are endless here. All of which makes for a perfect item to get as a gift or a souvenir to bring back home.
It’s an amazing place to visit as you’ll be able to admire all the beautiful works of art that is being made on site here at this pottery shop. So if you have some spare time, you should definitely try to make your way over to Orcas Island Pottery as you’ll never know what you might find.
Shop At Eastsound Village
If you’re wanting to do some shopping here in Orcas Island, there is no place better to visit than “Eastsound Village”.
Eastsound Village is the premiere place for all your shopping needs. It is here where you can find almost everything you can ever imagine. From cute gift shops to boutiques or even cafes and galleries, you can find it all here in this area.
But that’s not all!
In fact, aside from all the shopping that you could do, Eastsound Village also offers a plethora of entertaining things to do as well. From being able to get a soothing massage to watching a concert or a play, or maybe even eating some really delicious foods. This is the best place to go relax and enjoy your day.
Also, if you are here during the months of May through September, you can even find them being host to one of the best “Farmers Market” on the island. All the items sold in this farmers market are all locally grown and crafted by the Orcas Island farmers and artisans.
Overall, it’s the perfect place to visit especially after spending much of the day going whale watching, hiking, or just exploring the island in general.
Enjoy The Sunset At Cascade Lake
One of the most romantic and beautiful things to do in Orcas Island, is to simply enjoy the sunset coming down from the sky.
After all, the natural beauty of Orcas Island as well as the surrounding islands provides a truly blissful experience for you to enjoy some of the most breathtaking sunsets you will ever see.
And here in Orcas Island, you can find many different places that are perfectly set for you to watch this beautiful event. For instance, you can go visit the summit of Mount Constitution, where you can view the sunset shining down on Mount Baker. Or you can also go to West Beach, which offers a really scenic view across the bay towards the other islands.
But one of the most popular spots to view the sunset is definitely at “Cascade Lake“. Mainly because this lake allows you to do a variety of different water activities while also enjoying your time. For instance, after a long day of paddle boarding, swimming or even kayaking, you’ll be able to just head back down towards the beach and just watch the sunset shine through the skies.
However in the end, no matter where you decide to go in Orcas Island, you will always be able to enjoy the sunset in all its glory. There really isn’t a bad spot as almost everywhere you go will provide some truly amazing views for you to enjoy.
Go Sailing Around The Waters
Now lets be honest, sea kayaking and whale watching might be some of the most fun and entertaining things you’ll have ever done. But that isn’t all that’s going to keep you busy.
In fact, if you are wanting to explore the ocean on your own and take things in your own hands, then one of the best things to do in Orcas Island is to simply go sailing. It is here where you’ll be able to feel the breeze of the salty sea as well as winds blowing through your hair as you actively sail around the island.
And here in Orcas Island, you can find a number of different sailing charter companies that will rent you a boat for a few hours, a day or even a week if you are looking to stay that long. It’s one of the best ways to experience the open waters here on the San Juan Islands.
Plus, by sailing around, you’ll also be able to head to a number of other islands that are in close proximity to Orcas Island. Which means you are able to do day trips to many of the surrounding islands and explore them in all their glory. You’ll also be able to see a bunch of different wildlife and nature which makes the entire experience so much more enjoyable.
So if you are wanting to experience what its like out on the open waters, as well as exploring the surrounding areas, then sailing is definitely one of the best things you can ever do here in Orcas Island.
Play On The Beach At Crescent Beach
Located just outside of the area of Eastsound, you’ll find one of the most charming beaches the area of Orcas Island has to offer.
Crescent Beach is a popular beach that many locals and tourists will visit because of its close proximity to many attractions as well as being the perfect place to do all kinds of water based activities.
Visitors who come will be able to swim around, kayak, or even get on a paddleboard and just roam around to explore. Plus there are many shops around the area that will also rent out various types of beach equipment for you to use. Many of which do so at very affordable rates.
The waters around here are very calm which makes all of the water based activities turn into a really enjoyable experience. Plus it is probably the best area to visit for younger children as they can take part in various activities without having to worry about any danger.
But the best part about this beach is that you are able to see an assortment of different animals living here. From things like small starfish to fishes swimming around, or maybe if you are lucky then you might even see a seal!
There’s also a few trails around the area which makes for a great experience exploring as you’ll see a bunch of different scenic views and wildlife that lives in the area.
So if you love going to the beach or just have small children with you, then Crescent Beach is definitely one of the best places for you to visit.
Visit Buck Bay Shellfish Farm
Do you love eating oysters? How about clams? Or basically any type of shellfish?
If so, then one place you have to visit in Orcas Island, is one called Buck Bay Shellfish Farm.
Buck Bay Shellfish Farm is exactly how it sounds. It is a farm that is specifically dedicated to growing their own oysters, clams and any other type of shellfish available.
But that’s not all!
Here at this farm, visitors will be able to learn all about the shellfishes that they raise as well as being able to crack open their own oysters and clams. They also have an area where they can cook these foods as well as cooking fresh crabs, prawns and other fish too! For instance, some of the foods you might find on the menu here includes things like “Steamed Clams”, “Dungeness Crab Mac and Cheese”, “Halibut Fish and Chips”, “Oysters” and more all waiting for you to enjoy.
This place also acts as a getaway where people can live for a certain period of time and allows for them to enjoy Orcas Island in all its glory. They are only located about 100 feet away from the shoreline and provides amazing views of the entire San Juan Islands.
Buck Bay Shellfish Farm provides a truly amazing experience that’ll allow you to learn so much as well as being able to eat some of the best foods this island has to offer. It’s one of the best things to do if you are wanting a fun and entertaining experience here on Orcas Island.
Enjoy Some Golf At Orcas Island Golf Course
Are you an avid golfer? Or maybe you just want to try out the game of golf?
If so, then one of the best things to do in Orcas Island is to simply head on down to the Orcas Island Golf Course and play some really fun games of golf.
The Orcas Island Golf Course has a 9-hole course that is open to the public all year round and can also use alternating tee boxes that help convert it into a really challenging 18-hole course.
Aside from that, they also offer a driving range and a practice area for those that just want to have fun hitting the golf ball. They also have options where you can rent clubs and golf carts too. But best of all is that the rates and fees to play here or to use their equipment are all fairly cheap so you won’t have to worry about breaking the bank just to have some fun.
It truly makes for a very relaxing and fun time that is suitable for golfers of all ages and abilities. Plus it is conveniently located across Crow Valley from the hiking trail head of Turtle Back Mountain.
It’s definitely one of the best places to visit here in Orcas Island and is also a really great social hot spot where you can meet and interact with many different people.
Drive The Scenic Byway
One of the best things to do in Orcas Island, is to simply take a drive around the scenic byway.
The San Juan Islands Scenic Byway is actually divided into three different segments.
The first segment is a 30 mile stretch along the marine highway, serviced by the Washington State Ferries and offers scenic views of all around the area. The second segment is a driving tour around San Juan Island. And the third segment is a driving tour on Orcas Island.
The scenic byway drive on Orcas Island literally begins upon exiting the Orcas Island Ferry at Orcas Village, or “The Landing” and some locals may call it. You’ll be able to see various interesting and unique things about the island. From the quiet and soft beaches to even the 2,409 foot summit of Mount Constitution, this self guided tour is definitely one of the more interesting things you are able to do here on Orcas Island.
The entire tour takes about 2 to 3 hours long depending on how many times you decide to stop around and explore. However if interested, you should probably give yourself more time to do this tour as you will definitely find yourself to be stopping at various different points to look around and see what the island has to offer.
It’s one of the best ways to explore Orcas Island, and is always recommended by everyone for visitors who are coming here for the first time to do.
Check Out The Nearby Islands
The one thing that is amazing about an island is that they are typically surrounded by many other islands.
And here in Orcas Island, you can find that it is surrounded by many other islands known as the San Juan Islands. They are all in relatively close proximity to each other which means traveling from one island to the next is a relatively easy thing to do.
By traveling around to the other islands, you can really see the differences between each one of the islands. From the plants and animals that live there to also the people and culture as well. It’s really a fascinating thing to experience as each one of these places is vastly different from the other.
There are many ways for you to explore all the surrounding islands. The most popular however is by ferry as each island has their own ferry service and will transport you around each one of them, giving you a chance to explore that island in more detail.
Another popular method which many people do is to simply sail around to the surrounding islands. And there are many companies around which will offer to rent you a sailboat for you to roam around. It’s probably one of the better options for you to choose from as you can explore at your own leisurely pace with no time constraints.
Overall it’s an experience that is unlike any other and will totally bring you a bunch of joy and entertainment. So if you have the spare time and want to explore the many other islands nearby, this is definitely one of the best things to do in Orcas Island.
Overall, the island of Orcas Island in Washington is an amazing place to visit if you ever get the chance to. You’ll find that here in Orcas Island, there is an abundance of things for you to see and do.
So hopefully this post about the “17 Best Things To Do In Orcas Island” was able to help you out in some sort of way. This way if you ever find yourself visiting the island of Orcas Island in Washington, you will know exactly what things you are able to do for some fun.
Also if you are interested in reading some of my other posts about traveling, you can do so by clicking these links:
- Essential steps for planning a trip
- How to find cheap flights
- There is no such thing as a perfect time to travel
Or you can check out all my blog posts by click this link.
Hope you have a safe and fun trip~