Orcas Island puts the “escape” in romantic escape. Located in the Puget Sound off the coast of Seattle, the island is only accessible by boat or plane so traffic, noise and crowds are a distant bother. It’s the perfect place to unplug, yet reconnect with your loved one.
Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juan Islands, a collection of 172 remote islands and reefs, with only four accessible via the region’s ferry system. The island’s 57 square miles of terrain is rugged and hilly, making it the perfect destination for a few romantic adventures.
Getting to Orcas Island
Whether you take a ferry or seaplane, arriving to Orcas Island is an adventure unto itself. Both routes will tantalize your senses with expansive water views and glimpses of snow-capped mountains.
Rosario Resort & Spa, a national historic registry site, was built by local shipbuilder Robert Moran in 1906 as “a delightful place in which to regain health – physical, mental and spiritual.” The resort’s cozy waterfront accommodations and views of Cascade Bay offer the perfect spot to unplug and enjoy the peace and tranquility of Orcas Island. Rooms, suites and spacious residences are spread over the resort’s 40 acres. The historic Moran Mansion is the heart of the resort, offering romantic waterfront fine dining under the direction of Chef Raymond Southern whose commitment to locally sourced ingredients shines through in every dish.
Pamper yourselves with a luxury spa treatment offered in the mansion’s historic bedrooms with views of the bay. Be sure to explore the mansion’s museum and see the home’s original furnishings, fixtures and photos from the late 1800s. Rosario general manager and historian Christopher Peacock performs an organ concert every afternoon on the Mansion’s 1913 Aeolian organ, with 1,972 pipes.
Doe Bay Café is situated on one of the most scenic coves of the island, set within the 38 acres of the Doe Bay Resort & Retreat. It’s a classic Pacific Northwest destination with rustic campsites surrounded by the beauty of nature. The café prides itself on seed-to-table dining sourced from local Orcas Island farms, foragers and fishermen.
While away an afternoon in Eastsound, a quaint village with art galleries, boutique shopping and cafes. Stroll hand-in-hand and explore the unique shops and local artisan crafts. You’ll find Kathryn Taylor Chocolates, an artisan chocolatier where the edibles are works of art. They’re filled with locally-sourced flavors like black raspberry, lavender, pistachio fig, rhubarb and other unexpected delights.
Brown Bear Baking is the place to rest your legs and enjoy an artisanal handcrafted pastry. Pick up a few gifts at Girl Meets Dirt, a producer of handmade, small batch organic preserves from the island’s legacy fruit trees. You’ll find everything from preserves to shrubs made with local produce like Pear Balsamic, Apple Caramel, Shiro Plum with Mint, Italian Plum with Anise Hyssop, Orcas Pear with Fresh Bay and Quince Marmalade.
If you want to mingle with the locals, head to microbrewery Island Hoppin’ Brewery for their locally-inspired beers paired and upscale light bites. Beers bring local tales to life like the Elwha Rock IPA, the flagship beer named for the notorious Elwha ferry incident where, legend has it, the captain was distracted by a lady-friend and ran the boat aground off the coast of Orcas. There’s also the Old Madrona Imperial Red, K-Pod Kolsch (named for a baby Orca) and the Camano Coffee Porter among other brews.
To experience the great outdoors, visit Moran State Park, a 5,252-acre outdoor wonderland with camping, five freshwater lakes, and 38 miles of hiking trails. Hike up Mount Constitution, the islands’ highest point, where you’ll enjoy expansive views out over the sound and catch of glimpse of snow-capped Mount Baker.
Whether you’re looking for a place to just kick back and relax on the waterfront or communing with nature is on your agenda, Orcas Island has it all.