Among all the things to do on Orcas Island, the most attractive for us is waterfront camping at Moran State Park. And the less interesting … biking. Despite our passion for it, biking at the Orcas doesn’t seem safe at all. (the roads are narrow with plenty of curves and turns)
Orcas Island is the second most popular in San Juan Archipelago, (after San Juan Island :)). Surrounded by the pristine waters of the Salish Sea, wrapped in the evergreen forest, Orcas turned out to be less touristy (than San Juan) and the same charming.
Things to do in Orcas Island
1. Moran State Park
Moran State Park is huge and has tons of things to do: glamping, camping, kayaking, swimming, hiking, playgrounds, boat rentals, and picnic tables.
The pictures below were taken on a gloomy, rainy day, and don’t tell the whole story:
If you are looking for a top waterfront camping location, book a site at Southend Campgrounds. You can swim, SUP right from the tent! See the pictures below:
Moran Park Southend location also has a glamping opportunity, provided by Leanto company.
2. Oysters at the Buck Bay Shellfish farm
Buck Bay Shellfish farm is a nice place with waterfront seating and decent seafood, located near Moran State Park. We tried oysters, pictured below, they were super fresh and pretty tasty:
3. Things to do in Orcas Island: visiting Eastbound
Eastbound is the largest settlement on Orcas Island. (4,000 out of 4,500 Orcas residents live in the Eastbound). Stop for a meal or coffee, walk the main street, SUP, and play in the sand, – Eastbound is a lively place to visit.
We liked Eastbound a lot. Most of all: the Playground on the Green, History Museum, Brown Bear Baking:
Brown Bear Baking (#2, #3 pictures above) produces small-batch French pastries, bread, and sandwiches. There is also an open kitchen: you can watch the baking process while drinking coffee. 🙂
4. Orcas island cabins: YMCA Family Camp
Orcas Island is home to three historical camps: Camp Indralaya, Four Winds Westward Ho, and beloved by us Camp Orkila:
Camp Orkila is a popular sleep-away camp for decades. We tried it as a family retreat this September and it was a blast. Everything, surroundings, food, and activities, were great. The post about our trip is here.
5. Things to do in Orcas Island: Cider Bar
Cider Bar has a huge assortment and a great location – right at the ferry terminal. Once you’ve parked a car, you can stretch your legs and have a glass or two of hard/soft cider.
Village Store is right nearby and had decent coffee and pretty good pastries during our visit.
6. Ferries to Orcas Island
Ferries to Orcas Island aren’t just transportation, it is a whole adventure, especially when taking the first time. The scenery is beautiful, ferries are fast and comfortable. We, adults, and the kids enjoy the ride every time.
Although you can show up without a reservation, the best way is to book both ferries (to and from Orcas) in advance. You can check the prices, schedules, maps, and alerts on the official website.
7. Island hopping? Why not! Visiting San Juan
San Juan is the most developed and popular island in San Juan Archipelago. The ferry ride from Orcas to San Juan lasts around 40 minutes and vessels usually depart several times a day.
Friday Harbor is the liveliest place on the island and very nice for visiting. Other places we liked: Lime Kiln Point State Park (our camping bucket list destination), Sculpture Park, Westcott Bay Shellfish Farm, and English Camp:
We also went on a kayaking trip in San Juan. Be aware: due to the strong currents and tide, there are not so many safe places to go on your own (if you aren’t professional).
Visiting San Juan Archipelago I’d name as “one of the must things to do while staying in WA”. We have been to many places, but the only one, that came close is Thousand Islands National Park (Canada)
Things to do in Orcas Island: essentials
- Check the schedule and make a reservation for the state ferry here.
- Don’t forget rain gear, change of clothes, sunscreen, swimsuit, towel, etc.
- We also like to take binoculars on our trips.
- Grab a Discovery Pass to visit parks at Orcas Island
Thanks for reading!
Things to do in Orcas Island: cider bar, Moran state park, oysters 🙂
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