10 Adventurous Things To Do On Orcas Island

Looking for the best things to do on Orcas Island? Well, all the San Juan Islands are drop-dead gorgeous. But in our opinion, Orcas is particularly beautiful!

Not only is it the perfect place to relax and enjoy the gentle lapping waves of the Salish Sea, but it is also packed with unique experiences, hikes, wildlife, and camping.

With numerous state parks and preserves, tons of restaurants and coffee shops, and ocean adventures at every corner, there are plenty of things to do on Orcas Island.

Here are the top things to do on Orcas Island to add to your San Juan Islands itinerary!

What makes Orcas Island special?

Emily Mandagie on Mount Constitution on Orcas Islands in the San Juan Islands, Washington

Orcas Island is known for its beautiful forested hills, whale watching, classic PNW hikes, and views of the surrounding San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountains.

The island is extremely bikeable, has plenty of mountain lakes to adventure by kayak, and lovely local artwork, cuisine, and experiences.

It’s the perfect location for those who love the outdoors and exploring charming local towns. In this post, we’re sharing our favorite things to do here!

Top 10 Things to do on Orcas Island

1. Explore Moran State Park

The top of Mount Constitution on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands

Let’s start with FREE things to do on Orcas Island! While visiting Orcas Island, start by exploring Moran State Park for free activities. (Though sort of free – a Discover Pass is required!)

Drive (or hike) up to Mount Constitution! The hike is 6.7 miles with 1,500 feet elevation gain. Alternatively you can drive to the top!

Another trail is the the 2.7 mile loop trail around Cascade Lake. Here, you can also rent a boat/kayak from Orcas Adventures to explore the park by water.

Lake Cascade on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands, Washington

There are plenty of beautiful mountain lakes, campgrounds, forests, and viewpoints in Moran State Park. This is a great location to spend a day on Orcas Island!

Feel like getting out on the water? Head over to Lake Cascade to snag a boat or board rental for the day!

2. Discover some local art

If you’re looking for more cheap and fun things to do on Orcas Island, discover some local art at the Orcas Island Artworks or Orcas Island Pottery.

Orcas Island Artwork is a gallery that houses lots of local paintings, pottery, and homemade goods to buy in the town of Olga and Orcas Island Pottery is the oldest pottery shop in the Pacific Northwest!

3. Plan a luxurious getaway

Outlook Inn Entrance Exterior on Orcas Island in Washington State

If you’re looking for what to do on Orcas Island and are willing to splurge a little on a unique experience while on the island, we’ve got some luxurious, romantic getaways picked out for you!

Featured above: The Outlook Inn in Eastsound is a great pick if you’re searching for a place with beautiful ocean views and comfortable suites! It’s also extremely walkable to everything in town!

You can also look into the Doe Bay Resort and Retreat for a quiet, relaxing stay on Orcas Island with a spa experience.

And if you love historic structures and refined restaurant experiences, check out the Rosario Resort and Spa!

4. Visit Obstruction Pass State Park

Looking for more cheap Orcas Island activities? Visit Obstruction Pass State Park for beachcombing, panoramic water views, and great spots for a picnic.

With 80 acres of park and 10 primitive campsites, there’s plenty to explore in this area of Orcas Island.

You will need a Discover Pass to visit this park ($10 day pass or $30 annual pass).

5. Explore the town of Eastsound

Eastsound is the biggest town on Orcas Island and is about 8 miles from the ferry terminal.

Here, you can enjoy several shops, restaurants, and attractions.

Places like the Orcas Island Historical Museum features historical artifacts and cabins that depict the island’s history. If you’re lucky, you might hit the Orcas Island Farmers Market, which runs from 10am-2pm every Saturday; first weekend in May through the last weekend in September!

After your day of exploring, grab a delicious pastry at the Brown Bear Baking or meal at The West Side Kitchen. Matia Kitchen is another great dinner option, because of its vibey atmosphere.

6. Eat Delicious Food

The West Side Kitchen - Yakisoba Plate

Exploring local restaurants, breweries, and cafes is always a great way to get a feel for the local community.

Some popular restaurants on Orcas Island include the Doe Bay Cafe, which is known for its live music and delicious seafood dishes, and New Leaf Cafe in the Outlook Inn, which offers visitors dazzling views of the bay.

The Mansion Restaurant at Rosario Resort is another memorable dining experience in a historic setting and the Orcas Hotel Cafe is an easy go-to option for classic American cuisine, because it’s right next to the Orcas Island Ferry Terminal.

Looking for caffeine? Check out Olga Rising or Teezer’s Coffee House in Eastsound.

7. Wander Around Doe Bay

Doe Bay is a more rustic, laid-back part of the island and is very popular for family gatherings and retreats.

While in the area, enjoy a summer of mini music festivals and art at the Doe Bay Artist in Residence (DBAIR) events.

Doe Bay is an excellent place for glamping with many unique options, including treehouses and yurts!

8. Discover Rosario Village

Colorful kayak rentals on the waters of Rosario Beach on Orcas Island in Washington State

If you’re taking a day trip to Orcas Island, you must visit Rosario Village.

From here, you can go on a whale watching tour with Outer Island Excursions ($119 for adults; reduced rates for Rosario guests). If you don’t see whales on your tour, Outer Island Excursions has a policy that you can go again for free!

Another unique excursion you could do is take a guided kayak tour from Rosario to Buck Bay Shellfish Farm ($99 for adults; reduced rates for Rosario guests).

Want a DIY version? Rent kayaks from Outer Island Excursions, starting at $40. 

A cool thing about this area is that while seaplanes land all over the island, the public use seaplane base is next to the Rosario Resort.

This is where you can be dropped off if you come to the island by seaplane!

9. Drive (or boat!) to West Sound

View from Fishing Bay

West Sound is known for yachting and is home to the Orcas Island Yacht Club. Join in on the fun and visit the area to watch a sailboat race or simply enjoy the marina.

Lodge at the historic Kingfish Inn at West Sound for beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains (rates start at $249 per night; 2 night minimum stay late-May through September).

While there, dine at the Kingfish Restaurant for delicious local cuisine (reservation recommended).

10. Hike Turtleback Mountain

To get breathtaking views of the islands, hike to the top of Turtleback Mountain in the Turtleback Mountain Preserve.

There are two ways to get there: the south trailhead or the Turtleback Mountain Loop.

The Turtleback Mountain South Trailhead is a moderately challenging 6.6 mile hike with 1,640 feet elevation gain.

Similarly, the Turtleback Mountain Loop is a moderately challenging 6.8 mile hike with 1,525 feet elevation gain. This loop can be done in conjunction with the Orcas Loop.

Either way, you’re guaranteed dazzling views, a gratifying hike, and a great adventure in the PNW!

What are some of your favorite things to do on Orcas Island? Tell us in the comments below!