San Juan Islands

Things To Do On Orcas Island

If you like great food, reading, hiking, kayaking, whale watching, shopping, sailing camping, fishing, lounging on the beach or near a lake then Orcas is the vacation for you! Situated between the Salish Sea and the Strait of Georgia, just north of Puget Sound, Orcas Island is just one among a group of islands known as the San Juan Islands. The San Juans are just north of Seattle, WA and just south of Vancouver, British Columbia. 

With a resident pet for a mayor and a large handful of local artists, the peacefulness and quirkiness of Orcas Island is sure to quickly win your heart. If you do choose to visit below are our top recommendations for food, shopping and activities.

Food


The Barnacle

This small bar located in East Sound is perfect for a quick drink and a fun cocktail. This is my favorite bar on the island!

Roses

Each year I look forward to going to Roses. The food is great and the atmosphere is very relaxing. They have wonderful pizza and beautiful desserts. Not to mention it is connected to a cheese and meat shop which is perfect for picking up an appetizer for dinner on your way out. 

AElder and Hogstone

AElder and Hogstone are two restaurants in one location. The focus of Hogstone, an outdoor restaurant, is wood fired pizza, seafood, and good wine. AElder is a restaurant with a tasting menu that is hard to beat. With ingredients like pine tree oil, sea succulent seasoning and dessert covered in edible flowers you will without a doubt have the finest dining experience the island has to offer.

Buck Bay Shellfish Farm

If you are able to cook your own food you are going to want to visit Buck Bay Shellfish Farm. This is a wonderful place to pick up your fresh oysters, clams, crab, shrimp and fish for a homemade dinner you won’t forget. 
When it comes to meals on Orcas, don’t expect anything to be fast. When you are at Orcas you are on island time. So sit back, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the slowing down of time.

Roses

Each year I look forward to going to Roses. The food is great and the atmosphere is very relaxing. They have wonderful pizza and beautiful desserts. Not to mention it is connected to a cheese and meat shop which is perfect for picking up an appetizer for dinner on your way out. 

AElder and Hogstone

AElder and Hogstone are two restaurants in one location. The focus of Hogstone, an outdoor restaurant, is wood fired pizza, seafood, and good wine. AElder is a restaurant with a tasting menu that is hard to beat. With ingredients like pine tree oil, sea succulent seasoning and dessert covered in edible flowers you will without a doubt have the finest dining experience the island has to offer. 

Buck Bay Shellfish Farm

If you are able to cook your own food you are going to want to visit Buck Bay Shellfish Farm. This is a wonderful place to pick up your fresh oysters, clams, crab, shrimp and fish for a homemade dinner you won’t forget. 
When it comes to meals on Orcas, don’t expect anything to be fast. When you are at Orcas you are on island time. So sit back, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the slowing down of time.

The Barnacle Bar in East Sound, Orcas Island

Shopping

Darvill’s

Each year I look forward to visiting Darvill’s to purchase 2-3 books to top off my summer reading list. Be sure to visit and check out the back of the store where you will get a beautiful view of the water and an espresso.

Orcas Island Pottery

On Orcas you will find many places to purchase pottery. One of my favorite places to visit is Orcas Island Pottery. I love coming home with new pieces and seeing my cupboards fill up with the beautiful cups, serving dishes and bowls all handmade by locals.

My Favorite Stores

If you find yourself on East Sound be sure to visit a few of my favorite shops: Atelier, Kizmit, Springboard, Olgas and Nest.

Activities

Entrance to Moran State Park, Orcas Island

Moran State Park

If you are looking for an outdoor activity this is the place to visit! Here you will find hiking, fishing, paddle boarding, swimming, kayaking, trail running and whatever else you can imagine doing on a lake and in the forest. Don’t forget to take a drive up to the top of Mount Constitution for a stunning view of the Puget Sound.

Orcas Island Winery

Orcas Island Winery and Brewery

If you are interested in wine or beer these two locations are definitely places to add to your must visit list! Everyone at Orcas is absolutely lovely and the winery is no exception. If you are lucky, you will be sitting and sipping wine with the wine maker himself!

Orcas Mandala

Now that you have eaten a lot of food, hiked, swam and whatever other activities you have chosen to keep yourself busy with head on over to Orcas Mandala for a yoga class that will be sure to loosen tight muscles. 

Whale watching

Whale Watching

This activity will never get old for me. I absolutely love being on the water and if it includes whales I am even more thrilled. Orcas Island is home to resident Orcas who will be sure to say hi to you if you embark on a whale watching tour.

Orca Whale near Orcas Island

With the tranquility of beaches and lakes, stunning sunsets, mountains and sea, amazing food where most of the ingredients are grown on the island, and a small community full of dreamers, artists and locals you will feel like Orcas is home away from home. Additionally you will quickly note that Orcas is a unique experience that is a summarization of the Pacific Northwest. You won’t want to miss visiting this island that is considered to be the “gem of the San Juans,” and we hope that when you visit you are able to make it your new family tradition.

Ashley

About the Ashley Greenwood
I personally have visited Orcas Island at least once a year for the last nine years, primarily in the summer, specifically in the third week of July. My in laws and their family on the other hand have been visiting Orcas Island during this time for over 50 years, staying on Beach Haven on the north side of the island.

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