Orcas Island – Day 2

Hey Guys!

On our second day in Washington, we spent the day on Orcas Island which is part of the San Juan Islands.

We had to take a ferry to get there.

Before arriving to Washington, I made reservations to transport us and our vehicle to the island. This is a must if you are visiting the islands during peak season.

The cost was $55 for a roundtrip ticket.

I made our reservation time for 7:30 am so we could spend the whole day on the island. My hubby was not a happy camper when he found out we had to be up that early especially after having to get up at 2:30 am the morning before.

There are 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan County. The four largest and most populated are accessible by Washington State Ferries out of Anacortes. These are: San Juan Aka Friday Harbor, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw Islands.

A few of the smallest islands are owned and lived on by individual families.

Read more about the history of the islands here

It was recommended that we arrive 1 hr before our departure time. So, that’s what we did. However, since it wasn’t peak season, we could have easily arrived 30 mins prior to our departure.

During peak season, you will definitely want to arrive 1-2 hrs before your departure time.

Once we arrived, we parked in the designated parking lane and sat and waited to board.

While we were waiting, I decided to get out and snap a few pictures of the sun starting to peek out from behind the clouds.

Shortly after getting back to the car, they started boarding everyone onto the ferry.

The ferries in Washington hold anywhere from 80-202 vehicles and up to 2500 passengers.

Driving onto the Yakima Ferry…the ferry was built in 1967.

Once we boarded the ferry, we got out and headed to the top to enjoy the views. The trip to Orcas Island takes about an hour.

We couldn’t believe how empty the ferry was! It was nice not having to deal with those summer crowds!

The ferry served all kinds of drinks and snack foods. So, we both ordered a cup of coffee & headed outside to snap a few pics.

It was cold but the scenery was so beautiful!

After a short ride, we arrived to Orcas Island.

Once we disembarked the ferry, we drove about 20 mins to the main town called Eastsound. This is where all the shops and restaurants are located.

Our first stop was breakfast. We had already done our research on restaurants in Eastsound, so we headed straight to Island Skillet.

The restaurant is known for its breakfast and large portions. They only serve breakfast and lunch.

It was busy when we arrived but we got seated right away. The inside of the restaurant wasn’t very big.

Once seated, we looked over the menu…I decided I would order something different so I ordered the shrimp & avocado omelet. It was filled with shrimp, avocado, tomatoes & cream cheese and was served with toast & hash browns.

The hubby decided on the skillet burrito. It was filled with eggs, cheese, hash browns  & sausage…it was also served with a side of hash browns.

The food was delicious and the portions were HUGE!

After breakfast, we headed to our next stop, the Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

If you keep up with my blogs, you will know that I love visiting & photographing old churches.

The Emmanuel Episcopal Church opened its doors in 1885. It was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1994. It sits right at the water’s edge.

It was a beautiful old church with lots of character.

In 2011, the church added a labyrinth. I’m not familiar with these but they are popular with Episcopal churches. It’s used for meditative walking and ritual or ceremonial use.

From this picture, you can see how close the church sits to the water.

You can also see Indian Island from the church. Indian Island is a small island that is only accessible by foot 40 days out of the year.

As we were leaving the church, we walked past this gate shaped like an octopus.

We passed this mermaid cut out & yes, we had to have our pictures taken! 😉

Shots of Eastsound

After leaving Eastsound, we headed to our next stop, Moran State Park. 

Moran State Park is the fourth largest State Park in Washington State and the largest park area in all of San Juan County.

Read reviews here

Once you arrive to the park, you will drive through this old concrete arch.

Shortly after entering the park, we came to a pull off where you could park & do some hiking. There was also a small “beach area” and a place to rent canoes. However, everything was still closed for the season.

We got out and walked around and were amazed at how big some of the trees were!

We walked out onto the small pier that jetted out onto Cascade Lake

We spotted this Douglas Fir tree “round” that was on display…it was estimated to be 322 yrs old!

We also spotted this old “bunker” built into the ground.

We decided to walk a short distance on one of the trails…the trees were amazing!

We loved how everything was covered in moss!!

As we were walking, we spotted this HUGE snail! Yuck!

The hubby found a new idea for a beard clip on! He’s thinking about patenting it! 😉

After leaving here, we headed to our next stop, Mt Constitution.

Mt Constitution is the highest point in the San Juan Islands sitting at an elevation of 2398 ft. It’s actually the second highest mountain on an ocean island in the contiguous 48 states. Only Devils Peak in the Channel Islands of California is higher.

In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the road and bridges which lead to the summit.

We crossed over this beautiful moss covered bridge on the way to the top!

The road to the summit was lined with evergreen trees!

As we were getting closer to the top, it started getting super foggy…I had a strong suspicion that we probably wouldn’t be able to see much once we reached the top. 😦

At the summit is a stone tower replica of a Russian watchtower that was constructed during the 12th century. The one at the summit was constructed in the 1930’s.

From the tower, visitors can observe a 360 degree view of the surrounding area including shots of Mount Baker, the North Cascades, and the other islands of the San Juan Archipelago.

Once we arrived to the top, we spotted a small gift shop that was open. So, we decided to check it out before heading to the tower.

They had a few snacks, drinks and souvenirs. We spotted some coffee cups so we just had to buy one since that’s the one souvenir we always buy on every trip. 😉

We then headed to the tower and just as I had thought, it was too foggy to see much.

The tower—inside & out

The foggy views from atop the tower 😦

After leaving the top, we drove back down and decided to stop at a pull off that was below the fog. The views were much better here! 🙂

We then headed to our next stop, Cascade Falls.

There are actually 4 falls on this one trail…besides the Cascade Falls, there is Rustic Falls, Cavern Falls & Hidden Falls.

The “hike” to all 4 falls was less than a mile so it was perfect for us….. we don’t like super long hikes because we usually have too many other things to see & do on our itinerary.

Walking along the trail…it was so peaceful and serene.

The first falls that we came to was Cascade…it was only .2 miles from the trailhead. At a drop of 40 ft, the falls is the tallest falls in the San Juan islands.

None of my pictures have been edited…it was this green!

We climbed down to get some better shots of the falls.

After Cascade, we headed to the next falls. We spotted this tree on the way…look at those roots! Can you spot my hubby in the pic? 😉

Everything was covered in moss…it was so cool looking!

After a very short walk, we arrived to the next falls, Rustic. The falls drop all of about 10 feet (probably less) into a small pool and are the smallest of the four named waterfalls along Cascade Creek.

Rustic Falls is a whole lot more photogenic than it is impressive….I couldn’t get over how green everything was!

Next was Cavern Falls …it’s the second largest waterfall along Cascade Creek. The falls consist of a 5 to 8 foot tall plunge which flows out of a narrow slot covered with thicket.

We somehow managed to miss Hidden Falls….I guess it was too hidden for us to find it! 😉

After hiking back to our car, we headed to our next stop, Obstruction Pass State Park.

On the way out of Moran State park, we passed over another mossed covered bridge. The bridge was designed and built by Robert Moran and dedicated to the state of Washington in 1921.

Once we arrived to Obstruction Pass State Park, we decided to do the 1/2 mile hike to pebble beach. The beach is the longest beach on Orcas Island.

The hike to the beach was similar to the waterfall hike in Moran…lots of beautiful, tall evergreens covered in moss.

The trail had information plaques along the way….The signs included information about the geology, ecology and the cultural significance of Obstruction Pass and Orcas Island.

The weather was perfect….sunny & blue skies made for some nice pics along the way!

We passed this hollowed out tree along the way and my hubby decided he would see if he could fit inside the tree. 😉

Once we arrived to the end of the trail, there were stairs that lead down to the beach.

There was driftwood scattered all over the beach which made for some nice pics.

The beach was lined with stinky seaweed….there is no way I would ever swim in this nasty water!

The views reminded me a lot like Maine.…rocky shores lined with evergreen trees.

The reason they call it pebble beach ….no sand! The rocks were so colorful!

My hubby hunting for rocks

After the exhausting rock hunt, he needed a nap! 😉

After spending about an hour here, we decided to head to our next stop, Crow Valley School Museum.

We had to pass back through Moran State Park on the way….Orcas is shaped like a horseshoe….you have Eastsound in the middle, Moran & Obstruction State Park on one side and Turtleback Mountain & Deer Harbor on the other side.

Crow Valley School was built in 1888. Students from grades one through eight were taught in the school house, which had a capacity of 57 (though most years saw about 27 students in attendance.) In 1893 there were 63 days of school compared with a State minimum of 180 today.

The school was closed in 1918 and today it is open for tours. However, it was closed when we arrived. So, we just parked and took a few pics.

Next to the school is a parking area for the Turtleback Mountain Preserve which I had on the list as well but decided I wasn’t up for anymore hiking.

So, we headed to the next stop, the town of Deer Harbor. Deer Harbor has one of the largest marinas on Orcas Island.

The town is a tourist destination for boaters staying at Deer Harbor’s many inns and resorts while touring the nearby attractions and hiking the trails.

The marina

After leaving here, we headed back to Eastsound.

Views along the way

Once arriving back at Eastsound, we decided to park and walk around.

A pelican sculpture located near the Orcas Island History Museum.

Later, we decided it was time for dinner…we headed to a restaurant that my hubby had found during his research of places to eat….it was called, the Madrona Bar & Grill.

We started out with the crab dip….it was delicious!

After our appetizer, our meals came out…I ordered the salmon and the hubby ordered his usual burger.

The food was very good and the views were nice too! 😉

After dinner, we continued our walk around town. The trees were in full bloom!

After walking around, we decided to get back in the car and drive around.

We came across this pond and decided to get out and snap a few pics

We saw these flowers blooming near the pond…we had seen these same flowers when we had vacationed in Alaska.

We then stopped off at the Orcas Village Store near the ferry…we spotted these huge cookies and thought they would make for the perfect dessert with a cup of coffee after we boarded the ferry. 😉

After leaving the store, we headed to the ferry landing to catch our ferry back to Anacortes. Our ferry was leaving at 7:50 pm so we had to be there around 7 pm.

Once we boarded, the sun had began to set and made for some beautiful shots

We noticed we could now see the Cascade Mountains!

After taking our pics, we headed to the snack room to purchase our coffee and enjoy our cookies. It was a relaxing way to end a long day:)

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for Day 3….you can read Day 1 here.

Other things to see/do on Orcas Island:

  1. Judd Cove
  2. Crescent Beach
  3. Doe Bay Doe Bay General StoreDoe Bay Cafe
  4. Sea Acres
  5. Whalestooth Farm – see the skeleton in the car
  6. Hiking in Turtleback Mountain
  7. Whale Watch 
  8. Sailing
  9. Kayak Tour
  10. Flight Tour
  11. Fishing 
  12. Girl Meets Dirt
  13. Orcas Wildlife Institute

Other Restaurants in the area:

  1. New Leaf Cafe
  2. Roses Bakery Cafe
  3. Mijitas – Mexican
  4. Lower Tavern
  5. Pizzeria Portofino
  6. Ice Cream – Clever Cow Creamery, Kathryn Taylor Chocolates & Lopez Island Creamery

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