HistoryIslandOrcas IslandWilderness April 21, 2021

Orcas Island

Orcas is the largest of the 172 islands in San Juan County with shimmering emerald hills embraced by 125 miles of rocky, tree-lined shoreline. Orcas is the diverse island. Its three long inlets thrust deep into the interior of the island, giving it more shoreline and protected waters than any of the neighboring islands.

Once home to countless generations of Native Americans prior to the arrival of its first white settlers in the late 1850’s, the new white settlers lived harmoniously with the Native Americans and many married native women and started families. Settlements grew slowly until improved steamship routes and increased commerce brought more tourists to the island.

The island’s business center is the village of Eastsound with all the amenities one would expect. Many of the hamlets at Orcas Landing, West Sound, Deer Harbor, and Olga have general stores, noteworthy shops and galleries, picture-perfect lodging, and restaurants. The east side of the island is dominated by woodsy Moran State Park with mountaintop vistas and miles of trails. Nearby is the quiet grandeur of historic Rosario Resort.

Orcas recently received a great deal of attention when Oprah Winfrey opted to purchase a home on the island, putting a spotlight on this jewel-like place. Food for thought…