I fell in love with the San Juan Islands – a 172 island archipelago 60 miles north of Seattle – when I was 14 and on an environmental service summer trip to Washington State.  The pristine natural beauty  – clean air, crystal water, lush greenery, rocky beaches – and the feeling of crisp purity stuck with me and I had been dying to go back ever since.

The wedding of two close friends on Orcas Island, provided the opportunity to revisit this extraordinary part of the world for what was one of the most thoughtful and personal weddings I have been to thus far.

Getting There:

There are no bridges to the San Juan Islands which is part of what makes them so special. All travel to them and between them is by ferry, boat, and sea planes. We arrived in Deer Harbor on a Sea Plane operated by Kenmore Air and I now want to go everywhere by Sea Plane – a boat and a plane all in one.  A helpful website for all transportation needs is: http://www.orcasisland.org/transportation/

Stay:

Orcas Island is relatively spread out. The wedding festivities took place in Deer Harbor which is about 20 minutes from Eastsound, the main town on the island.  Ferries also run out of Westsound, and there are a couple of restaurants and stores there as well.

I stayed at the Deer Harbor Inn, which is perfectly quaint and definitely nothing fancy, but the natural surroundings are so stunning and peaceful nothing more is needed.  I enjoyed Orchard Cottage #2, which was spacious, clean and outfitted with it’s own private back deck and hot tub – the perfect spot to appreciate the stars and chirping wildlife.  The Deer Harbor Inn has a historic restaurant that is open for dinner.  Unfortunately, it is not open for breakfast so if you choose to stay here, you will want a car or a friend that has one. The only other place open for lunch and breakfast in Deer Harbor is the little market where the Sea Planes fly in – good sandwiches and ice cream.

On my next trip to Orcas Island, I will make sure to stay for a night or two at The Place at Cayou Cove, a lovely little property with cottages right on the water, where you can opt to have a decadent breakfast brought to your cottage every morning. The friends that stayed here loved it and it seemed like the perfect spot to relax into the tranquility of the Island.

The Outlook Inn, is a charming and reasonably priced Inn located on the water in the town of Eastsound, and where many wedding guests loved staying.   It also has the New Leaf Cafe which serves an incredible breakfast and is recommended as one of the best dinner spots on the Island.

Eating & Drinking

New Leaf Cafe: The restaurant at the Outlook Inn has an incredible breakfast. The smoked ham cheddar scramble and the baked cinnamon apple brioche french toast were the perfect decadent items to split. The New Leaf Cafe is also known for dinner.  Unfortunately we only had time to enjoy appetizers – delicious steamed clams and one of the best spicy, ginger margaritas I’ve ever had.

For a scenic and intimate dinner on the water try the Inn At Ship Bay Restaurant. The menu changes seasonally to include the freshest, cleanest and locally available ingredients. We indulged in oysters, scallops amazing vegetables and a selection of intriguing ice creams including basil and cardamon.

Mia’s is a a great little option for breakfast. The chorizo scramble and fried egg sandwich both being standouts.

Don’t miss the Kathryn Taylor Chocolate Shop which also serves Stumptown Coffee. Kathryn Taylor is an artisan chocolate maker– all of her chocolates are handmade in small batches using mostly local and organic ingredients. They are not only delicious and seasonally inspired but also beautiful.  The shop also serves a wide range of hot chocolate options.

Activities:

While much of the weekend was dedicated to awesome wedding activities, we managed to fit in a 6.7 mile hike up to Mount Constitution (the highest point on the San Juan Islands) and around Mountain Lake.

Whale Watching  and Sea Kayaking expeditions are other popular activities.

Orcas Island Pottery  is located in a beautiful spot and visitors are welcome to enjoy a picnic there if they choose to before or after browsing.

Congratulations Pepper & Marshall! Thank you for bringing all of us to such a magical place for your special day!

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