Orcas is one of the most scenic islands in the San Juans and my personal favorite. With an abundance of sunshine and mild temperatures, typical island activities run the gamut from hiking to biking to kayaking. I longed to try something a little off the beaten path that ran on engine power, not leg or arm exertion. A Scenic Biplane Flight with Rod Magner fit the bill. The 35-minute ride, narrated and orchestrated like a graceful ballet, helped solve the geographical quandary of where I was in relation to the other 700 islands in the San Juan archipelago. Seriously consider taking a biplane ride while visiting Orcas; Magner says he’s never had an unhappy passenger (www.magicair.com).
Where to shop: In the village of Eastsound, Crow Valley Pottery (www.crowvalleypottery.com) stocks items for everyone’s budget with prices ranging from $1 to $10,000. The owners constantly change their displays of pottery, garden art, jewelry and paintings, so no two visits to Crow Valley will ever be the same.
What to see: The view from the top of Mount Constitution, at 2,409 feet, promises the most stunning seascape of the Salish Sea you’ll ever see anywhere.
Where to stay: Have you ever gotten up in the middle of the night, trekked to the bathroom and experienced a heated floor instead of ice cold tile? You will find that and much more at The Inn on Orcas Island (www.theinnonorcasisland.com). Guests have penned their thoughts in journals left on the room’s nightstands since the Inn’s opening in 2002 and each entry was more complimentary than the one before. From the homemade chocolate chip cookies at turndown to the cabinet filled with videos to the warmth and comfort of the conservatory, no detail has been left unattended. The indulgent breakfast comes with an enchanting view of the water and a chance to watch eagles, hawks, loons, herons and deer.
Where to eat: I began my culinary adventure at the New Leaf Café (www.outlookinn.com) in Eastsound with a palette-pleasing cup of squash soup garnished with candied nuts, followed by a selection of fresh seafood blanketed in puff pastry and capped with a smooth, yet crisp Crème Brulee. The chef prefers to use local organic ingredients whenever possible and that makes a dramatic difference in the freshness and taste.
For more information, visit www.VisitSanJuans.com.