Orc Island 2020
Orcas Island is the largest island in the San Juan Archipelago, located in the far northwest of San Juan County in the US state of Washington. This paradise on the island of San Juan combines many activities with the spectacular charm of the coast. Orcas embody the best of island life, from breathtaking views for miles to pottery workshops in the woods.
Geography of Orcas Island
Orcas Island is located in the US state of Washington, above the northern entrance to Puget Sound, approximately 136.8 km north of Seattle. Orcas is also the largest of the San Juan Islands in terms of area, with a total area of 148.4 km². The island’s population of 5,395 year-round residents is scattered around the island, but the small village of Eastsound, located at the northern end of the island, serves as a commercial and social center. Orcas Island is popular with bikers who enjoy challenging rides due to its rocky terrain. Mount Constitution is the highest peak in the San Juans, rising 2,409 feet above sea level, and cyclists who brave the steep road to the summit will be greeted with spectacular views of the San Islands. Juan and the Gulf Islands in adjacent British Columbia.
Orcas Island Climate
The summers at Orcas Island are short, pleasant, dry, and partly overcast, while the winters are long, very cold, rainy, and mostly cloudy. The average temperature varies between 2.22°C and 21.6°C throughout the year, with temperatures rarely dropping below -3.3°C or exceeding 25°C. According to the tourism score, the ideal time to visit Orcas Island for summer activities is from mid-July to late August.
History of Orca Island
Numerous Coast Salish tribes inhabited the islands approximately 13,000 years ago. Spanish explorers named the island of Orcas after the Viceroy of New Spain “Horcasitas”. The island was first claimed by Spain, followed by Britain, and then it became part of the United States. The first white settlers came to Orcas as part of the Hudson’s Bay Company hunting trips. These hunters eventually settled on the orcas and built homes. Settlements grew modestly through most of the 19th century. The villages of West Sound, Olga, Deer Harbor and Eastsound sprung up along the accessible shores of the island, around the landings and early post offices. Businesses and schools were eventually established, and these small towns became popular stopping points for passengers and freight. Tourism, centered on no fewer than 25 local resorts, became popular in the region in the early 20th century and is now a vital component of the local economy.
The population and economy of Orcas Island
The population of Orcas Island is estimated at 5,395 people (4,453 being the official 2000 census count). With a median age of 58, the population is split between 50% men and 50% women. 91% of white residents make up Orcas Island’s population, while the remaining 9% fall between Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. Orcas Island has an unemployment rate of 4.50%. Recent job growth has been encouraging, with jobs on Orcas Island increasing by 0.05%.
Attractions in Orcas Island
Camp at Moran State Park
Moran State Park is the jewel in the crown of the San Juan Islands. It encompasses 5,000 acres of forests, lakes and harsh mountains on the eastern side of Orcas Island. Moran also makes an excellent base camp for the night. There are 124 tent and RV campsites spread across four campgrounds in the park: Southend, Midway, Northend and Mountain Lake.
Turtleback Mountain Preserve
Turtleback Mountain, which rises on the western side of the island, is a popular hiking site in the area. The South Trailhead and the North Trailhead are the two main parking lots and access points to Turtleback Mountain. The south trailhead is about an 8km drive or bike ride from the ferry terminal. An extensive network of roads connects the two starting points.
Summit of Mount Constitution
It is the highest peak in the San Juan Islands, standing at 2,409 feet above sea level, and offers a beautiful outlook. Visitors can hike, bike, or drive a vehicle to reach the top. The route is accessible from dawn to dusk every day of the year, and various trailheads throughout the park lead to the summit. Cyclists should wear light-colored clothing when carefully climbing the uphill road.
Boating and Sailing Charters
Several boating companies on the island offer long boating experiences. With so many options, whale watching is often at the top of the list. These huge sea creatures abound in the nearby Salish Sea. The best time to see whales in the San Juan Islands is between mid-June and early September.
Orca Island Pottery
Orcas Island Pottery is about 3.5 miles from Eastsound Village on the west side of the island. Orcas Island Pottery does not have a single store; instead, the entire grounds are full of handicrafts to peruse. There are many structures on these retail lots, including a fantastic tree house. This dispersed shopping experience is like walking through a public park full of beautiful, homemade items.
Orca Island Golf
Orcas Island Golf is one of the few courses in the San Juan Islands, and it is undoubtedly the most magnificent. The course is located six miles north of the ferry terminal and was built to take advantage of the island’s steep terrain. Orcas Island offers nine courses, but each hole has two different tee boxes, giving you a total of 18 holes to choose from.
Orcas Island has long been a beloved island hideaway. Many consider it the jewel of the San Juan Islands, where time slows down and the bustle of city life appears to worlds far away. It offers everything visitors could want in a rural getaway and many of the high quality facilities they expect to find in a city. It has beautiful stores, delicious food, and an artistic community.