A Week on Orcas Island

Orcas Island in Washington State is one of the San Juan Islands. This scenic island located northwest of Seattle is only 57 square miles.

After seeing the San Juan Islands on TV several years ago, I added it to my bucket list. After researching the different islands, I decided Orcas was the best fit for us.

Map of San Juan Islands including Orcas Island

The only way to get to Orcas Island is by ferry or small plane. We opted for the ferry.

Washington State Ferry in the Sound

Orcas Island Itinerary

We started our trip to Orcas Island by flying into Seattle. Our flight arrived around 7 pm, so we spent the night near the airport. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Tukwila, about 10 minutes from Seattle Tacoma International Airport.

Outside View of a Holiday Inn Express

I figured grocery selection could be limited and expensive on Orcas Island. So I placed a Target pickup order (near the Holiday Inn Express) for non-perishables. I’m glad we did!


The following day, we left early to visit Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and see the fish ladder. This stop was worth the time!

Ship Lock that is open in Seattle

The Washington State Ferry to Orcas Island leaves from the Anacortes Ferry Terminal. So after the locks, we drove to Anacortes, which took about 1.5 hours. We enjoyed lunch at Bob’s Chowder Bar and BBQ Salmon.

4 Bowls of Chowder

We queued up for the ferry about 1.5 hours before departure. (I was not willing to take the chance of missing the ferry!) Fortunately, there are restrooms available by the car line.

restroom Building with Blue Room

The ferry ride to Orcas Island was about an hour. It was raining, so we stayed inside but enjoyed plenty of seating with great views. A snack bar is available for snacks, coffee, hot chocolate, or a light meal.

Snack Bar with Coffee and Beverages in the Washington State Ferry

The ferry terminal on Orcas Island is on the southern part of the island. After disembarking the ferry, we drove to our vacation rental near Rosario (about 30 minutes).

The Dock on Orcas Island for the Washington State Ferry

After unloading our bags, we went to Orcas Island Market in Eastsound to get groceries.

Flower Stand and Deli Inside of Grocery Store

The plan for this trip was to relax and explore the island at a slow pace. Our VRBO was a spectacular treehouse, and we enjoyed spending time there. So, you may notice that we didn’t do much each day.

Outside of Vacation Rental in the Trees on Orcas Island

Monday – Orcas Island

It was nice to sleep in on Monday and have a leisurely breakfast at the treehouse. Then, we drove to North Beach public access.

Kitchen with Sink and Window

North Beach is small, but it offers stunning views. We just sat on the beach and hunted for sea glass.

Rocky Shore and Water on Orcas Island

Orcas Island doesn’t have many public beaches. However, Obstruction Pass State Park has a beautiful stretch of coastline accessible by foot. We hiked to the beach and enjoyed an ocean view picnic.

Obstruction Pass State Park on Orcas Island

Later, we headed to Moran State Park to catch a glimpse of the 4 waterfalls along Cascade Creek.

Waterfall in the Trees in Moran State Park

Tuesday – Orcas Island

Cascade Lake is a lovely place in Moran State Park. It is a fantastic spot to spend the day swimming, boating, or hiking. We hiked the Loop Trail around the lake.

View of Cascade Lake through the Trees

On Tuesday afternoon, we went whale watching with Outer Islands Excursions. It was a wonderful trip. We watched 2 playful humpback whales and spotted other wildlife as well.

Back of a Humpback Whale


We returned to Moran State Park on Wednesday to hike Little Summit Trail from Mountain Lake. This trail is 1.4 miles each way and is rated difficult. If you’re not up for the hike, there is a parking area near the viewpoint.

Hilltop View of Islands in the Sound

Typically, we packed picnics for lunch, but on Wednesday, we had a delicious meal at Buck Bay Shellfish Farm.

Seafood Mac and Cheese

We spent a relaxing evening beachcombing at Judd Cove Preserve. This beach is in Eastsound and offers public access.

Judd Cove Preserve with Rocky Beach and Trees


It rained most of the day on Thursday, so there was no need to get up early. We slept in, watched movies, and went to Eastsound to tour the Orcas Island Historical Society museum.

Outside View of the Orcas Island Historical Society Museum


On Friday, we finally had the opportunity to drive to Mount Constitution and enjoy breathtaking views of Sucia Island State Park and the Canadian Coast Range.

Overlook with Signage on Mount Constitution


To end our week, we took another tour with Outer Island Expeditions. Our guided kayak tour took us to Point Doughty. This area is inaccessible by car.

Point Doughty - Land Sticking Out into the Sound


Unfortunately, it was time took to leave. So we rode the ferry back to Anacortes. We ended our trip to Washington with 2 nights in downtown Seattle.

Boats by shoreline on Orcas Island

Our week on Orcas Island was the perfect mix of relaxation and outdoor adventure. The scenery was spectacular, and the weather was fantastic. This corner of the country is a great place to escape from it all!

Rocky Shore with Water and Blue Sky and Clouds

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4 thoughts on “A Week on Orcas Island”

    1. That sounds like so much fun! I expected Orcas to be awesome, but it far exceeded my expectations!

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