"Cluster of Villages on Forested Slopes" Orcas Island by glabah

Orcas Island Travel Guide: 21 reviews and 25 photos

The best thing to do is look at a map of the island, as there is no other way to describe it. Free tourist maps are available in a number of locations, and it is best to get one of those to really see what you are dealing with on Orcas Island.

Point your hand downward, outstretching your three middle fingers. This is the basic shape of Orcas Island, with the furthest east prong having resort communities such as Rosario and Moran State Park - one of the gems of the San Juan Islands. The division between the east finger and middle finger is East Sound, and at the northern point of this is the community of Eastsound. The middle finger has, near its southern tip, the community of Orcas, which is where the ferry terminal is located that connects the island to the rest of the outside world. A small amount of farmland exists here as well, but this is rapidly turning into vacation homes. The division between the middle finger and west finger is naturally called West Sound, and the far west finger has a couple of other resorts on it.

Some Locations on Orcas Island

The tiny community of Orcas is where the ferry terminal is. There are two hotels, two restaurants, a small grocery store, and a shop that also rents cars, mopeds and bicycles. Other than these and a few houses, there isn't too much to this community.

Eastsound is the community that is closest thing to a city on Orcas Island. There is a decent sized grocery store here (large by island standards), plus several places to stay, a number of restaurants, and even two or three streets laid out in an actual street grid, with actual sidewalks.

Moran State Park was created when a wealthy ship builder contributed land to form the park. It contains the highest point in the San Juan Islands. Located inside the park, Mount Constitution is the highest point in the San Juan Islands and offers spectacular views in almost all directions. There are a number of other attractions inside the park.

Rosario was a private retreat built by the same wealthy ship builder. Today it has been turned into a resort community. Some things are open to the public without being a guest. Many people arrive by boat and stay on their boats in the marina.

All Around the Islands

Please be sure to also check my general San Juan Islands material, especially the San Juan Islands Warnings and Dangers tips. While the San Juan Islands are not necessarily a dangerous place, those tips are helpful for visiting any location in the islands.

As there are many places in the islands, it may also be helpful to see my various places in the San Juan Islands tip what you are reading is just one of many places in a chain of some 180 islands, and that is just on the USA side of the border.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Lots of outdoor activities, especially oriented around the water.
  • Cons:Off season, lots of things are closed. Not too many places have night activities.
  • Last visit to Orcas Island: Aug 2013
  • Intro Updated Nov 5, 2015
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