Orcas Island Wasington Is Only A Short Ferry Ride From Anacortes Washington But When You Arrive It is A World Away With Breathtaking Vistas And A Relaxed Island Feel

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Orcas Island Washington Is A Popular Destination For Sea Kayak EnthusiastsSea Kayaking Orcas Island Wa - A San Juan Getaway Vacation Spot

If you're thinking of Kayaking around  Orcas Island and the San Juan's you are certainly not alone.Thousands of people come here each year to experience for themselves the incredible beauty of the islands and to get a glimpse of the abundant wildlife. As your kayak silently glides along you are likely to see bald eagles soaring overhead, dolphins jumping nearby, and curious seals swimming over for a look-- you might wonder who's doing the sightseeing and who's being watched. If you are extremely fortunate you may be visited by a  pod of Orcas making their way around the island.    Orca Whales @ Orcas Island Wa
With a name like Orcas Island you would think the surrounding waters were teaming with Orca whales, and while the whales are free to swim anywhere they choose and do eventually make their way just about everywhere, they do have their favorite areas where they seem to prefer.     

One of the most consistent places for whale sightings is right along the west and southwestern shores of  San Juan Island. There is a voluntary no-motorboat zone offshore from the Lime Kiln park where the Orcas are free to relax and not be bothered by the constant buzzing of motorboats like in other busier waterways.    

If you're dreaming of kayaking amongst a pod of Orcas you need to have realistic expectations. First of all, it is illegal to approach the whales directly or to bother the whales in any way. The Orcas can be very curious and will sometimes approach a kayak for a swim-by or even dive under your boat, but you need to understand that this doesn't happen every time.          

Washington State Ferry Arrives At The Orcas Island Ferry Terminal - Orcas Island WA

ACCOMMODATIONS:  Bellinghamster.com recommends the Rosario Resort, there are also a number of smaller inns and Bed & Breakfasts throughout the island. 

Camping On Orcas Island WA

If you're planning on camping out during your visit to Orcas Island you'll want to make your way to Moran State Park.     This very special place   was donated to the State of Washington by William Moran,  a wealthy shipbuilder and former mayor of Seattle. William Moran wanted to have the showplace of the San Juans when  built a grand mansion on the shores of east sound,  now known as the Rosario Resort. The second floor of this magnificent home is kept as a museum and is open to the public, free of charge.   One particularly interesting feature of this home is the giant pipe organ built into the walls of the large theater room.   

Sea Kayaking The San Juan's

  ORCAS ISLAND WAKayaking The Surrounding San Juan Islands

Orcas island is uniquely suited for kayaking due to its relatively protected bays of East Sound & West Sound, as well as its proximity to the very popular  Sucia, Patos, and Matia Islands located off its north shore. These three marine parks are reachable only by boat or floatplane and are amongst the most beautiful in all the San Juan's.  These islands are also the perfect destination for a a multi-day kayaking trip.                                    More Information About These Islands

 How To Get To Orcas Island WA

If you're like most people you'll be arriving on Orcas Island via the Washington State Ferry system and if you've never been on one of their vessels before you're in for a pleasurable experience. These giant people and car carriers are part of the largest ferry system in the world and they make getting to and from the San Juan's incredibly easy, affordable,  and best of all, fun.  

Official Washington State Ferry Website

 You can take your car, bike, RV, or just walk aboard for a very low fare.     First of all you need to make your way 80 miles north of Seattle to Anacortes Washington. 



Driving Directions From Seattle To Anacortes Ferry Terminal   MAP IT 
  • Take I-5 North  64 1/2 Miles
  • Take the WA-20 exit-  AND EXIT 230 toward BURLINGTON - ANACORTES 
  • Turn LEFT onto WA-20 / W RIO VISTA AVE / AVON CUTOFF. Continue to follow WA-20 W.   11.6 miles
  • WA-20 W becomes WA-20 SPUR W.  2.6 miles
  • Turn Right onto COMMERCIAL AVE / WA-20 SPUR.  1.2 miles
  • Turn LEFT on 12th street. (After you pass a McDonalds on your right)
  • Continue  on 12th which becomes Oaks Ave and keep going until you see signs for the Washington State Ferry Terminal and you will veer right into the toll booth lanes.  

Below is a sampling of kayak rentals on Orcas island, each with a link to their official website with their location, rates, available amenities and other information.

Orcas Island Kayak Rentals
Orcas Outdoors Sea Kayak Tours
Located by the ferry terminal.  Specializing in tours of West Sound.   Custom Tours Available. Hourly, Daily, Multi-day tours

Good choice if you are a walk-on aboard the Washington State Ferry. EZ location.

(360) 376-4611 or (360) 2376-2971

Sea Kayak Tours at West Beach Resort 
Located on the northwest side of Orcas Island.  Has RV & Camping sites, Beachfront Cottages!
If you're an RV or Camping maniac, this is a good choice for you.


Spring Bay Kayak Tours
Located on the southeast corner of the island approximately 20 miles from the ferry landing. Kayak tours and brunch at the Spring Bay Inn.  Your a.m. kayak tour is included if you are a guest at the Inn!   Rates are $220-$260 per room.    Owners are retired park rangers.
A luxurious way to experience Orcas island with all the knowledge of two ex-rangers on tap.

(360) 376-5531


Lieber Haven Resort & Marina Boat Rentals
Located on southeast Orcas Island.    Kayak, Motorboat & Sailboat Rentals, Whale Watching, General Store, Also,  Beachfront Cottages with no minimum nights stay, 
Great for a one night visit to Orcas Island.  Also whale watching tours.


Osprey Tours  San Juan Islands Washington
Located on the north shore of Orcas Island at Bartwood Lodge.  Traditional styled Sea kayak tours.  One hour, 1/2 day, all day, multi-day guided tours.
Good choice for crossings to Matia, Patos & Sucia Islands.  Venture into open water in the big leagues.   CLICK HERE


Shearwater Sea Kayak Tours
Located in Eastsound.   Guided 3-hour, full day & multi-day tours.   No experience required. Kayak skills classes available.
Like other kayak tours there  is no experience necessary and you can kayak with your honey in a 2 person kayak.  




Some things to consider:
  • The time of year of your visit may determine what kind of weather to expect.  Although in the Pacific Northwest you never know what to expect.

  • Do you own a kayak or will you be renting one?   There are numerous kayak rentals scattered around the island that offer everything from hourly rentals to overnight multi island tours. 
  • How much time will you be spending on Orcas?  Orcas is a big island so If you're only going to be there a short time you will want to begin your kayaking near the areas that interest you most.    Don't think you can paddle around the island in just a few hours.  
  • Do you want the safest and most protected journey or something more exciting?  When the wind picks up, anywhere around the island can get wild, however there are places off the northern shore that even a 50 ft yacht wouldn't want to be during a storm.   The inner bays offer a pretty good level of protection from wind and waves but they too can get rough when there is a southerly wind or during an especially bad storm.
  • Are you content with paddling around with puffins and harbor seals or do you just gotta be with the dolphins andwhales? 
  • Do you break out in a sweat after a 10 minute paddle or can you go for hours?  The tidal currents around the San Juan's can be very swift so you should always be aware of the tides when planning your crossings to other San Juan Islands.

Stuff To Do In Blaine Washington Including The Peace Arch State Park And Marine Park

Patos Island LighthouseWashington State Ferries Provide Transportation To Orcas Island Daily

The 3 most popular islands north of Orcas island for kayakers are  SUCIA ISLAND MARINE PARK  - MATIA ISLAND - PATOS ISLAND
ORCAS ISLAND MAP              Orcas Island Moran State Park

 Orcas Island Marina Westsound DEER HARBOR MARINA

Orcas Hotel
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