One of the great aspects of living in an outdoor destination like Orcas Island is that people of all ages love to visit. There are so many fun things to do here that even teens who are normally glued to the virtual world of their smartphones and other gadgets find enough real life adventure to stay entertained.
In mid August my father-in-law and 16-year-old niece trekked out from back east to see us. Bob and I took the opportunity to unplug and enjoy a vacation in our own backyard. We packed a month’s worth of activities into a week, ate fresh-caught seafood almost every night and were reminded all over again why we chose to live in this far out northwest paradise. Our family photo album tells the story – click a photo to start the slideshow:
The adventure begins by arriving on a seaplane painted like an orca whale.
Day 1 starts with a boat ride to see whales. This J-pod male was cruising with his mates off Stuart Island.
We saw the most whales we’d ever seen at one time – including three lively calves.
On our cruise home we stopped to fish for the night’s dinner: pink salmon.
The one that got away!
Mid August is blackberry season. Each afternoon we picked fresh berries to enjoy on our ice cream. Yum!
Throughout the week we caught delicious Dungeness Crab to enjoy fresh out of the pot, in crab cakes and crab salad wraps.
Plus we feasted on the “lobster of the northwest”: Spot Shrimp, locally called Prawns.
Lots of them!
Our terrestrial activities included a hike up Turtleback Mountain.
This scenic overlook on Turtleback Mountain made the perfect place for a picnic lunch.
The Saturday Farmer’s Market was an ideal place to pick up island-made souvenirs for the folks back home.
Meg piloted the dinghy to nearby Crane Island where we borrowed two kayaks.
Our kayaking adventures included scenic Mountain Lake. It was as peaceful as I’d always imagined.
After beaching the kayaks for snack time, we took a brisk dip in Mountain Lake. Brrr!
Every night we were treated to a spectacular summer sunset. This one took first place.
A last paddle on President Channel completes the perfect vacation.
If this type of adventurous lifestyle appeals to you, I’d love to help you make it a reality. I specialize in helping people in all phases of life move to Orcas Island. Contact me and let’s begin!
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Last week while Seattle posted a record high of 93 degrees, the cool Salish Sea surrounding Orcas Island kept us a refreshing 10 to 20 degrees cooler. So if you’re not already on Orcas Island, the first thing to do is just get here! When you’re on island and feeling the heat, try these ways to keep your cool:
Cascade lake is a popular swimming hole on hot summer days.
Jump in a lake – The best way to cool off is a dip in one of our beautiful lakes in Moran State Park. The most most popular is Cascade Lake— which also has a beach, dock, snack bar and paddle boats for rent, along with coin-operated hot showers. Choose more remote Mountain Lake for a quieter back-to-nature experience. It’s the locals’ favorite hiking spot too.
The falls along Cascade Creek are most impressive in the spring and fall, but a refreshing place to hike in the summer too.
Hike the cool forest – Can’t decide which lake to visit? Take the Cascade Creek trail which connects Mountain Lake to Cascade Lake. You’ll stay cool amidst the old-growth forest and along the way you’ll see 75-foot-high Cascade Falls and can dip your toes in the creek. Remember, like most WA State Parks, Moran Park now requires a Discover Pass — $10 per visit or $30 annual pass.
Murphy and me staying cool on Judd Cove trail.
If you’ve got less time to spare, you can visit Judd Cove Preserve just outside of Eastsound. The forested walk is a great way to cool off after the Saturday Farmer’s Market. The trail takes you past a historic Lime Kiln on the way to the shoreline and picturesque cove. The preserve is another success story of the San Juan County Land Bank, which is funded by a 1% tax on real estate sales.
Be sure to check the tide charts before you hike the sand bar to Indian Island.
Walk a tombolo – The narrow spit of land connecting Eastsound to Indian Island is accessible during low tide. Hit the beach at Eastsound Waterfront Park, take off your shoes (hang on to them if you’re going to the rocky island!) and explore the sandbar. You’ll have the added fun of wildlife watching in Fishing Bay.
Alley entrance to Lily’s ice cream shop in Eastsound.
Get a Scoop or Two – The newest place in town to get ice cream is Lily, downstairs from Allium restaurant on the Eastsound waterfront. Open every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Lily serves gourmet hormone-free ice cream from Lopez Island Creamery. Or choose gelato from Enzo’s Italian Caffe, open year round with free wireless internet.
Zip on a line – Okay, this one probably shouldn’t count because it’s open to the public only a few days in the summer, but I couldn’t resist: The longest zip line in the state of Washington is at Orcas Island’s own YMCA Camp Orkila! Climb atop the tallest “building” in San Juan County (68 feet), strap on gear, and catch a breeze while you zoom through the air for 110 feet to the landing pad. Today was, coincidentally, one of the Community Zip days where the event is open to the public for free (appointment required.)
If you can add to this list of ideas, please post a comment!
Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty – we’ll help you find your way home.