10 Things to do on Orcas Island, San Juan Islands

10 Things to do on Orcas Island, San Juan Islands

These beautiful islands, just off #Washington, offer many opportunities to get #active and enjoy #nature. Whether you're into kayaking, hiking or whale watching, you can do it all on the San Juan Islands. One important thing: take your time, breathe in the fresh air and don't forget to find time for some #relaxation too!


Due to its immense natural beauty, plethora of outdoor activity and abundance of wildlife, the San Juan Islands are a favorite destination for both Washington residents and tourists.

Comprising of an archipelago between Vancouver Island and Washington state, the islands have a rich ecosystem and pristine landscapes allowing visitors to experience the idyllic Pacific Northwest scenery. Sitting in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, the San Juan Islands actually receives less rain than Seattle making it a prime vacation destination year round.

the islands have a rich ecosystem and pristine landscapes

Of all the islands, Orcas Island or the “gem of the San Juan Islands” is considered to be the most beautiful. Home to a huge state park, several lakes and various harbors and bays, Orcas Island holds countless of things to do and adventures to embark on. Even though the island is small, you can spend every day full of fun, relaxation and excitement.

Need some ideas of what to put on your agenda? Here’s our list of 10 things to do on Orcas Island, Washington.

Things to do on Orcas Island

Camp at Moran State Park

The island has great camping sites
The island has great camping sites

With 151 campsites and 15 primitive sites, the camping at Moran State Park is excellent to say the least. This 5,252 acre state park offers endless hiking trails, scenic views and outdoor activities making every visitor wish they had more time to spend exploring. The Moran State Park camp sites is the perfect home base to explore the island.

Camping is one of the best ways to experience the Pacific Northwest summers, not to mention it’s much more fun than staying a hotel if you want to “become one with nature.” If you’re not quite keen on sleeping in a tent, there is a glamping section in the state park.

Hike/Bike/Drive up Mount Constitution

You get the best views from Mount Constitution
You get the best views from Mount Constitution

For the best view from the highest point in the San Juans, hike/bike or drive 2,407 feet up Mount Constitution in Moran State Park. Have a picnic and climb up the stone tower for views of the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island and the Canadian Gulf Islands.

Off in the distance you can spot the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges along with Mount Baker and Mount Rainier on a clear day.

See the Famous Orca Whales

Magnificent orcas
Magnificent orcas

Although Orcas Island wasn’t actually named after these beautiful animals, the orca whale watching is an absolute must do activity when visiting. This little corner of the world is one of the best to see orcas as it is home to the Southern Resident Killer Whales, population around 85.

from  $89

Orca Whales Watching Tour in Washington

Active
 Washington, DC, United States
You may also like

Family Adventure Cruises

Historical Sailing Tour in Baltimore

If your goal is to see orca whales, then you must take a whale/wildlife watching expedition. There are a few charters that take visitors out on the boat for the sole reason to see these majestic mammals. You can also spot other wildlife such as seals, bald eagles and porpoises along the way.

Hike

Hiking trails
Hiking trails

With more than 38 trails in Moran State Park alone, it’s safe to say that the hiking on Orcas Island doesn’t disappoint. Wander around lakes, visit waterfalls and venture into the wilderness. Pick and choose the hike of your choice from leisurely loops to challenging climbs all while enjoying mountain, island and water views.

Fish

Reeling in the catch
Reeling in the catch

Bring a pole and fish at the many lakes on Orcas Island or go on a charter to catch salmon, halibut and more. Take advantage of both freshwater lakes and saltwater sea.

Ferry to the Other Islands

Setting sail
Setting sail

Lopez Island, San Juan Island and Shaw Island. These are the islands that most tourists visit although there are a designated 172 islands and reefs in the San Juan County. There are no bridges or walkways that connect them together, the only way to get around is by boat or by plane.

It’s worth taking a day to discover the natural treasures on the other islands, not to mention the ferry views are beautiful!

discover the natural treasures on the other islands

Enjoy the Lakes

You can do numerous wateron the lakes 
You can do numerous water sports on the lakes 

There are 5 main lakes on Orcas Island to enjoy water sports on. The most popular lake is Cascade Lake where visitors can rent kayaks, paddle boats and canoes or swim, fish and relax. There are also trails that run along the lakes to stunning viewpoints like the Twin Lakes trail.

Sea Kayak

Sea kayaking is awesome
Sea kayaking is awesome

Sea kayaking is one of the top activities to do at Orcas Island for good reason. Experience the islands by water as you glide silently through the sea. Watch as bald eagles fly above you and sea lions playfully swim around you.

from  $84

Point Doughty Kayak Trip in Orcas Island

Active
 Orcas Island, San Juan County, WA, United States
You may also like

Beans & Bites Bicycle Tour in Victoria

Whale Watching Tour in Orcas Island

Kayak during sunset, moonlight, on the lakes or to the outer islands.

Drive Around the Island for Scenic Views

Find your perfect view
Find your perfect view

Shaped like a horseshoe and with a land area of 57.3 square miles, Orcas Island offers many opportunities for beautiful scenic views. The best way is to drive around the whole island from the Orcas Village Ferry dock to Deer Harbor to the east and Obstruction Pass Park to the west.

Orcas Island offers many opportunities for beautiful scenic views

Drive through the forest, along the lakes and bays and past the harbors for stunning Pacific Northwest scenery full of Western red cedar, Western hemlock and Douglas fir.

Relax and Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Getting in touch with nature
Getting in touch with nature

Relax, you’re on island time now. There’s no need to rush at Orcas Island. Savor every breathe of fresh air, admire all the scenic views and let yourself sink into nature. Take an extra minute or two to enjoy the waterfall and wake up early to see the sunrise.

Savor every breathe of fresh air

When it comes to having the quintessential Pacific Northwest trip, there is one crucial component. And that is to have the best time, no matter how hard the hike is or how much your arms ache from kayaking. It’s all part of the experience.

Loved this story?

Subscribe to our newsletter

to receive new story and activity ideas in your inbox.

Keep inspired By other stories