Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juan Islands, located off the northern coast of Washington State. Just over an hour by ferry from the mainland city of Anacortes, Orcas is a Pacific Northwest vacation paradise.
Mr B and I took an early spring getaway to Orcas Island and were surprised at how laid back the island's pre-tourist season on the islands was. It may well be the most relaxing vacation we've ever taken.
Table of contents
5 Relaxing Reasons to Visit Orcas Island
The Journey There
When you vacation on an island, getting there is half the fun, and you're sure to see some wonderful sights along the way.
The easiest way to get to Orcas Island is to take the Washington State Ferry from Anacortes, Washington. (If you're feeling spunky, you can do what I do and pretend it's a mini-cruise.)
If you go by ferry, be sure to plan a few hours to stroll Historic Downtown Anacortes before you catch your ferry.
Once you're on board, take a seat and enjoy the beautiful Puget Sound scenery from the inside passenger area, or take a walk out on the deck and enjoy the clean, crisp marine air.
The Artisan Community
Orcas Island has a thriving community of artisans that throws open doors of welcome to visitors in studios, shops and galleries all over the island.
We especially enjoy all beautiful, functional art at Orcas Island Pottery. You can spend hours just looking at (or in my case, touching...or trying not to touch, as the situation warrants) these unique, hand-created pieces.
The folks on Orcas Island do not mess around when it comes to creating beautiful, delicious food. We ate often and well.
Read about our experiences at two excellent Orcas Island restaurants:
We were thrilled when Chef Steve Debaste of Orcas Island's New Leaf Café generously shared his recipe for Grilled Halibut over Local Salad Greens with Verjus White Truffle Vinaigrette with us.
The Active Life
Orcas Island offers a multitude of outdoor sports for the active vacationers.
Generally, the San Juans are still a little too chilly in the springtime for swimming; but lots of other activities are definitely accessible, including camping, boating, climbing, hiking, bicycling, and our favorite – kayaking.
You can bring your own gear, or borrow from one of a handful of rental places that freckle the island. Day tours are available through several local companies as well.
The Peace & Quiet
Above all else, it was the tranquility of the island experience that captured our hearts. The landscape is idyllic and inspiring, with open fields and farmhouses inland, wooded countryside, and amazing, sweeping vistas. It is, in a word, bliss.
The quiet, remote, revitalizing peace of Orcas Island in the springtime may just be one of the island’s best kept secrets.
More Orcas Island Travel
PLEASE NOTE: This post was originally written Spring 2016. Some of the businesses mentioned here may be temporarily or permanently closed due to the COVID pandemic, so be sure to call ahead first!
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