We discovered a Washington state rental that epitomizes the best of the coast.
Text and styling by Fred Albert

Guests arriving at Isle Dream Cottage don’t mind if owners Richard and Nanae Fralick aren’t around to greet them personally—Mother Nature is happy to oblige. Outside this 375-square-foot rental on Orcas Island (four hours northwest of Seattle by car and ferry), eagles soar overhead and seals and otters cavort in chilly waters below. Deer roam the premises, lolling alongside the front path or surprising visitors with an impromptu appearance on the wraparound deck.

Isle Dream invites guests to enjoy the wooded surroundings at a deliciously relaxed pace. Richard discovered the region 26 years ago when he responded to an ad seeking an “untamed physicist” to work in the San Juan Islands. “Living in the Caribbean sounded really good,” he says with a laugh. While his geography may have been faulty, his instinct was not.

Richard purchased Isle Dream and the surrounding three acres in 1998, upgrading the cottage with electricity and a skylit bath. “It caters to people desiring an island experience,” he says. The snug, two-room dwelling is perched on a 50-foot bluff overlooking the waters of East Sound (not to be confused with Eastsound, the picturesque village a few miles down the road). A cheery red door opens to the wood-paneled interior, which features a full kitchen, a queen-size bed nestled into a window-lined alcove, and water views that seem to stretch forever. Depending on the season, guests curl up next to the woodstove or clamber down to the water, where a hammock sways in the breeze.

Orcas Island offers a wealth of outdoor activities, from kayaking and bicycling to exploring the 5,252 acres of nearby Moran State Park. (The tower atop the park’s Mount Constitution yields unparalleled views of the surrounding archipelago.) “A lot of people like to go whale watching,” Richard says. “There’s one resident pod and a couple of others here in the summertime.” Isle Dream guests can troll for dinner off the cottage’s dock or let the Fralicks steer them toward one of Eastsound’s acclaimed restaurants.

Although visitors gravitate to this spot year-round, Richard’s favorite time of year is early autumn, when the summer sun lingers and tourist traffic recedes, leaving the island’s byways mercifully deserted. But none of that matters at Isle Dream. “When you’re on the property you really have your own piece of paradise to enjoy,” Richard says. “The comment we receive most often is, ‘It’s better than the photographs!’”

(published November 2007)

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