If you are familiar with the Seattle area, then you may have heard of the San Juan Islands and how amazing they are! One of the island is Orcas, which is known for their kayaking and whale watching tours. The San Juan Islands are VERY popular in the summer so if I can give you 1 piece of advice it would be to plan way in advance!
Getting to the Islands
The only ways to get to the islands from the main land is by ferry or by a small plane. We chose to go by ferry so we could bring our car. I recommend this since Orcas isn’t walkable. They have a shuttle and rental cars on the island but it’s definitely more affordable and convenient to bring your car.
You’ll book your ferry reservation on https://wsdot.wa.gov/ferries . Spots fill up quickly for car spots so you’ll want to try to book your reservations as soon as you can. Some spots are open 30 days in advance, 2 weeks and then a few days before. If you are unable to secure a reservation, you can try to drive on standby.
When you make your reservation, you are just holding a spot for your car. You need to show up 45-60 mins before the scheduled departure to check in and pay your fares. You do not pay any fares until you check in. On the ferry site, you are asked to provide a credit card and will be charged a $16 no show fee. Current fares are $50 RT for your car and driver and then an additional $15 RT per addition passengers in your car
What to do in Orcas Island
When in Orcas Island it’s definitely recommended to do a whale watching tour (book in advance or when you arrive on then island) and a bioluminescent kayak adventure (done at night so you can see the plankton). We did not do either one of these because we had our dog with us.
Here’s other adventures you can do in Orcas (and with your dog!)
- Moran State Park (Discovery Pass required, $10/day or $30/ annual pass)
- Kayak , SUP or Row on Cascade Lake
- Hike to Mt Constitution, or the shorten version from little summit OR just drive up to the top (this is a great sunset location)
- Do the 4 waterfalls hike (Cascade falls, Rustic falls, Cavern falls and Hidden falls)
- Hike at Obstruction Pass (Discovery pass required) and swim at their public beach
- West Beach (another good sunset spot)
- Shop at East Sound Main Street
- Orcas Island Historical museum (not dog friendly)
- Hike Turtleback Mountain
- Doe Bay Wine Company
Where to eat
There’s so many good places to eat on Orcas, here’s a few places we really enjoyed
- Mijitas (get the crab enchiladas)
- Island Skillet (for brunch)
- Brown Bear Cafe (gets VERY busy)
- Orcas Hotel Cafe
- Voyager (such good sandwiches)
- Orcas Co-Op (very good and healthy sandwiches)
- Clever Cow Creamery
Orcas is such a fun and beautiful place to explore! You could spend a weekend here or a week here and have so much fun!
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