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The San Juan Islands lie off the coast of Washington and have hundreds of islands and reefs, but only four major ones — San Juan, Lopez, Shaw, and Orcas Island— are connected to the mainland by ferry service and offer a range of lodging and activities.
A group of 12 adults and 3 kids, we chose Orcas as our weekend home.
To board the Washington ferry, we drove to Anacortes, which was about 45 mins drive from where we live, Bothell. The ride from Anacortes to Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands set the scene for outdoor adventure. The 90 minutes Ferry ride, with the snow-capped Mount Rainier in the background and the sunset ahead of us was an experience in itself.
We had Beautiful cabins, and pier all to ourselves. We were there with our family during winter and it was the best holiday we have ever had. The weather was frigid but the cabins were warm. West Beach on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands in Washington State is the most beautiful place for any kind of getaway. It’s perfect for couples or families and at the end of your visit you’ll not want to leave. Other guests were very respectful (i.e. quiet) and the staff could not have been nicer.
The cabin was clean, the espresso at the front desk/general store was GOOD (Caffe Vita) and the water was crystal clear. The water was too cold and was not suitable for a bath, but it also didn’t dampen what turned out to be a memorable and different sort of beach vacation on this beautiful island.
Once on Orcas, we headed for the West Beach Resort, which provided a classic waterside lodging experience. West Beach Resort also has beachfront, ocean view, and garden cottages, marina, general store, espresso, boat rentals, kayak rentals, hot tub, wifi, nightly beachfront bonfire and patio, whale watching, guided kayak tours, fantastic milkshakes, and homemade waffle cones and ice cream.
Our dinner was simple at a great Mexican restaurant, Mijitas Mexican Kitchen (nee Bilbo’s), located in Eastsound. For the next 2 days we decided to cook at our cabin with the food we had brought from Seattle. Our cabin had all kitchen amenities from kitchen towels to cutlery. It was a home away from home.
The next morning, looking for a low- key affair, was spent at the beach.
There were crabs around, Driftwood provided natural seating for taking in the vast sky floating over the sea, birds dipping and rising, all of it backed by Mount Baker, another stunning snow-capped mountain.
We walked around Mountain Lake. Moran State Park, comprised of 5,252 acres of hilly, old-growth forests dotted with sparkling lakes, in the middle of which rises the island’s highest point, 2,409-foot Mt. Constitution. The next afternoon, we decided to go to the top of Mount Constitution in Moran State Park and check out the view of Mt Baker.
A drive to the summit affords exhilarating views of the islands, the Cascades, the Olympics, and Vancouver Island, and avid hikers enjoy the strenuous but stunning 7-mile round-trip trek from rippling Mountain Lake to the summit (some 38 miles of trails traverse the entire park). The observation tower on the summit was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. In summer, you can rent boats to paddle around beautiful Cascade Lake. Hiking the well-tended, often-narrow paths afforded sublime views of the water and islands panorama.
During the summer, and especially with young children, the beach at Cascade Lake in Moran State Park is a place to be. It’s easy to get to, it’s free, it’s safe. If you’re looking for some freshwater activities, Cascade Lake at the entrance of Moran State Park also offers rentals right from the main beach area.
WHALE WATCHING TOURS
There are several Whale Watching Charters on Orcas Island departing from various locations, including Orcas Landing (ferry terminal), Deer Harbor, Rosario Resort and North Beach. Keep in mind that Whale Watching Tours are seasonal (typically ~April – September) so be sure and check with the tour company for reservations.
Kayak Rentals are available in several areas of the Island, including the popular location on the picturesque Crescent Beach and Cascade Lake in Moran State Park. If you’re looking for guided tours, there are several choices available from different guides.
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Author: Priyanka Mohanty
Motherhood has been an amazing journey so far; each day, an adventure of sorts. After a stint in marketing and marketing communications, I am currently a stay at home mom, blogger, traveller and chef. Never thought I would be happy to call myself a SAHM! Right now, my 24/7 job is being a mom. I am here to share my thoughts and experiences on parenting, life, and ways we could improve our lives. When I’m not reorganizing the drawers or handling tantrums, I can be found writing about health, nutrition, beauty, and wellness. Also, I am an endangered bookworm who loves nothing more than finding the perfect solution to life’s little conundrums in books and nature.