This trip to the Islands was planned and cancelled twice before we finally made it happen. The first time we had an emergency trip back to California and the second time was Covid! Third time was definetely a charm as we had the best trip with absolutely perfect weather. It never went any higher than the upper 70’s with no wind and beautiful blue skies. We even had a couple days where the morning fog drifted in over the trees to give us a mystical feel. Just perfect!!
We have rode the ferry around the Islands before and this is one of the best parts of the trip. Just moving through the islands full of trees is so unique. After landing we drove to the other side of the island to reach our hotel. No trailer on this trip–just a resort and restaurants for us over the next few days. We stayed at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island and you can’t help but relax when your view is 100% calm and peaceful water lapping gently on the shore beneath your deck. So the first thing we did was head to a local grocery for some wine and cheese to keep in our room. This became our nightly ritual. During the days we headed out to explore Orcas Island and also San Juan Island.
First up on Orcas Island was a trip to Moran State Park which is very close to Rosario. We drove to the top of Mount Constitution which was the highest point on all the islands at over 2400 feet. There we went to the top of the observation tower named Ellsworth Storey’s Tower. It was quite a view. Then we took off and drove around as much of the island as we could. We found a great store called Girl Meets Dirt where she sells all kinds of unique jam and preserve flavors. We also found out that Orcas Island is known for its clay and that pottery is a big deal. We loved looking around and shopping at Orcas Island Pottery-what a place. It had water views, a real tree house, pottery galore, a shop where you could watch potters at work, and best of all, a herd of turtles!! Of course, we made a purchase or two here as well.
Next we discovered Deer Harbor Marina with its one of a kind pizza named Island Pie. Order in advance, online, and enjoy on a deck overlooking the Marina-spectacular. All of the restaurants were great, but really hard to get into. They explained that there is a huge worker shortage on the islands and we experienced it everywhere on this trip, not just the San Juan Islands. It seems that on the islands there is not enough housing available for the workforce. But everyone did their best and we never went without. Sometimes it just took awhile!
Finally, we made our way to San Juan Island and docked at Friday Harbor. It is a bustling town with a lot of shopping and dining opportunities. We headed out to Lime Kiln State Park to do a little whale watching as this is suppose to be one of the best places in the world to see whales from land. Well you guessed it…we watched for over two hours and didn’t see a one! It was a beautiful park and now we will have to come back and try again.
We also headed out to Roach Harbor to do a little yacht shopping!! Just joking…but boy there are sure some big boats in that marina. This area is amazing and very different than when we last saw it over 30 years ago. There is a lot of new condos, businesses, and restaurants. Definitely worth a stop. We really enjoyed our few days on the islands and plan on doing this again but next up we will head up to the northwestern area of Washington for a stay in Anacortes.