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San Juan Islands Travel Region

Orcas Island, Washington

Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juan Islands, which are located off the northern coast of Washington State. Approximately an hour and twenty minutes from the mainland city of Anacortes by ferry, Orcas is home to an eclectic community of artisans and small cottage businesses. Its diverse landscape of mountains, wooded countryside and spectacular vistas make it a popular destination for both day trips and extended vacations.

Orcas Island visitors arrive at the Washington State Ferry landing at Orcas Village. Go Northwest! photo by Dave Dean


Orcas Island, is not named after the Orca whales as one might expect, but rather, named after Don Juan Vincente de Guemes Pacheco Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo Conde de Revilla Gigedo;(!!), the patron of a Spanish explorer and viceroy of Mexico.

The Towns of Orcas Island

Eastsound is the largest town on the island and is home to a variety of accommodations and restaurants. Four other small communities, Olga, Deer Sound, West Sound and Doe Bay are scattered across the horseshoe-shaped island and have a range of galleries, artist studios and shopping amenities.

Orcas Island Accommodations

Rosario Resort, the island's largest hotel, is the former estate of shipbuilder Robert Moran and offers first-class dining and accommodations, as well as sweeping views of sound. There also are a number of bed and breakfast inns located throughout the island.

Orcas Island Countryside

Moran State Park is located near Eastsound and is a favorite camping location. Mount Constitution, which towers 2,409 feet, affords a spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding parklands and islands.

Many people however, come to Orcas to tour the countryside by bicycle or to kayak the fjords and coastal waters. Day tours are available through several local companies on the island.

Getting to Orcas Island

Orcas Island can be reached from the mainland via a leisurely ferry ride from Anacortes or by seaplane from Seattle or Portland, Oregon. Visitors should plan visits ahead of time and check ferry and plane schedules. Not all of the ferries stop at Orcas Island and travel times vary according to the time of day. Orcas Island also makes an ideal lunch or dinner stop from any of the adjacent San Juan Islands.

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