This rugged star of the Pacific Northwest's playground—the San Juan Islands—is where the culinary scene is as stellar as the views.

By Kim Brown Seely
July 12, 2017
Kathryn Donohew Photography/Getty Images


The rustic charms of the waterfront log cabins at Beach Haven Resort are tailor-made for nostalgic retreats for couples and gangs. And being located on Orcas's northwest shore adds the promise of spectacular sunsets. The cabins book up far in advance, so try an off-season stay and plan ahead for 2018. Rates start at $120;


Breakfast and lunch at Roses Café are among the most coveted sit-down meals on Orcas. Savor poached eggs and fresh seasonal greens, and local Dungeness crab cakes. Or pick up a loaf of bread, cheeses, charcuterie, and wine in the bakery shop next door for a picnic. Snag a stool at The Barnacle, the island's latest night spot, tucked in a quaint space and serving handcrafted cocktails incorporating Northwest spirits (San Juan Island Distillery's Spy Hop gin and wild Nootka rose liqueur). Themed boards of hearty finger foods, such as The Pig War—pulled pork, pork belly, locally farmed sausage, and house-pickled vegetables—make a perfect light supper or post-sailing snack. Self-taught chef/owner Jay Blackinton, who grew up on Orcas, has been nominated a third year running for a James Beard Award. You'll want to go twice to his Hogstone's Wood Oven—once to sit outside by the fire pit and eat crispy, thin, wood-charred pizzas and drink beer, and another time to settle into the cozy dining room, with its locally sourced and foraged tasting menu.


Pick up packable jams and organic preserves from centuries-old island fruit orchards at Girl Meets Dirt in Eastsound. You can make a date for a small-batch reserve jams private tasting (parties of four or more), or stop by for great gifts: jams from island heritage fruit, Orcas Workshop wooden serving boards, cheese knives made from salvaged steel and island wood, and hand-hammered French copper pots.


There are dozens of great hikes on Orcas, but in-the-know locals' hands-down favorite is iconic Turtleback Mountain, with its distinctive, turtle-shaped hump. Follow Turtleback's old roadbed, a three-mile round-trip hike, which curves through a forest of fir and rare Garry oaks, and then up to Ship's Peak, a 931-foot overlook offering expansive Puget Sound views and a light breeze blowing off the water.

Photo: Kathryn Donohew Photography/Getty Images