Not Martha

island stay recommendations

We’re headed up to Orcas Island next month for a wedding and we’re planning on staying for a few extra days on either Orcas or San Juan Island. I’m looking at the list of places to stay on Orcas Island at Seattle Song, but personal recommendations are always the best.

Do you have recommendations for fabulous places to stay on either Orcas Island or San Juan Island? I’m thinking more relaxing than sightseeing, more getting away from it all than being right in a little town, and while I’m not particularly inclined to get out of bed and make conversation in the morning, I’ll consider bed and breakfasts that are worth it. Views of water or sunset and possibly and in-room fireplace would be fantastic. Also, any tips on what to see or eat while we’re out there?

· comments [37] · 06-27-2007 · categories:seattle ·

37 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Shelley // Jun 27, 2007 at 7:06 am

    Oh, I’m jealous! My in-laws used to live on Orcas, and so we were up there quite frequently. I’m sure you’ll get tons of suggestions, but one place we’ve loved is Westbeach Resort. It’s not luxurious by any means, but it’s reasonably priced, right on the beach, and all the cabins have kitchens and woodburning stoves. If the weather is nice, you could get a gorgeous sunset, and it’s so relaxing, watching the sun go down on the water while sitting around a campfire. Have a great time!

  • 2 brigita // Jun 27, 2007 at 7:45 am

    This might be out of your way, but The Mister and I enjoyed our stay at Lopez Farm Cottages back in the day. Very private/quiet and the breakfast basket was really tasty!

  • 3 rachel // Jun 27, 2007 at 7:55 am

    We loved San Juan, esp. the old city. Very pretty.

  • 4 kel // Jun 27, 2007 at 8:30 am

    Fun! I don’t know specific places to stay because I always stay on a boat, but I LOVE the little town of Friday Harbor.

    Have fun!!!

  • 5 Carrie // Jun 27, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Sigh. My whole family is on Orcas Island right now for a family vacation except for me (so technically I say that it’s not really a family vacation). They keep sending me pictures that look ridiculously gorgeous and make me jealous.

    So, sorry, just complaining since I’m missing out on all the fun. Oh, and if I hear them raving about any particular place, I’ll let you know…

  • 6 megan // Jun 27, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Shelley – Thanks, I can do without post if it’s a great location to relax, this looks super.

    Brigita – Thank you, they look ideal as well. So sweet, but the “for sale by Windermere Real Estate” note at the bottom of the page is slightly ominous!

    Carrie – Thanks.

  • 7 Kelly // Jun 27, 2007 at 9:12 am

    I love the San Juans!
    Orcas – I’ve heard West Beach is great too, although I’ve never been. I really like the town of Eastsound – great Mexican @ Bilbo’s and unique breakfast at Olga’s.
    San Juan – I worked at Roche Harbor for a summer and it is always fun. If you can get one of the old cottages by the pool – I think they’re the best. For a special dinner, try the Duck Soup Inn – it’s tucked away in the middle of the island.
    I’m looking forward to hearing where you end up!

  • 8 Cathy // Jun 27, 2007 at 11:11 am

    If you end up on San Juan, Lime Kiln Park is a great place so see orcas from the shore. There’s a crew of scientists there and docents with great info, and they even have a local radio frequency that broadcasts the whale songs when the pods are close to the park. Very cool place, and free!

  • 9 Seattlejo // Jun 27, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Oh Megan, I’m so jealous!
    I’ve always loved Doe Bay resorts. Even if you don’t stay there, do stop in for dinner. It’s all local ingredients vegetarian/vegan and oh so very good.
    If you choose to stay they have a variety of options for your room. From a yurt to a cabin to hostel rooms. I’ve done both a yurt and cabin and was delighted by both.

    It was kind of hippie, but boy was it fun.

  • 10 rebecca // Jun 27, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Several years ago, I stayed at a B&B on San Juan Island called Olympic Lights. It was beautiful, quiet, and very serene with gorgeous views and gardens. I would definitely recommend it!

  • 11 Jenny // Jun 27, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Hey, this isn’t a recommendation on where to stay — we camped when on our visit to San Juan — but just a word of advice about the ferry — the line to leave on a Sunday fills up quick! We arrived for the departure ferry three hours before it was scheduled to leave, and it was already full, and we almost missed our flight back to Ohio because we had to wait for the next one. The island was lovely, but that was a stressful end to our trip.

  • 12 Jenny // Jun 27, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Oops, I lied about going to San Juan — we actually went to Orcas Island.

  • 13 mel // Jun 27, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    A friend of mine owns timeshare through Trendwest WorldMark and paid for us to stay at the timeshare property called Resort at Deer Harbor. It’s called a ‘resort’, but it’s just a bunch of cottages on a hillside–totally cute. It’s not available to nontimeshare owners, but if you know anyone who owns timeshare, you can probably get a good rate through them! It’s definitely geared toward giving you a relaxing weekend. There’s a hot tub on the deck (where we spent a few hours reading) of each cottage, a jacuzzi tub inside, huge bathroom, small living room area/fireplace, and bedroom. It’s right across Deer Harbor, so you can watch boats come in and out of the marina.

    There’s also a yarn store (out of someone’s house) that is within walking distance of the ferry landing. I forgot what the place is called, but you’ll see a sign that says YARN and TEXTILES from the main road. The woman there has a bunch of sheep out front, from which she shears their wool and spins/dyes her own yarn. I loved visiting her work studio (and, of course, bought some yarn!)

    My favorite restaurant there was at Deer Harbor Inn (down the street from the resort). Their number is 360-376-1040. The place is family-owned and they have yummy home-cooked food and the best well water I’ve tasted! When we were there, we commented on the water, and our waitress said that a lot of other people have had positive reactions, too.

    Good luck finding a place, and have fun!

  • 14 Anjali // Jun 27, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    I’d also recommend Bilbo’s (marionberry margaritas = yum!), but my favorite restaurant from my stay was definitely Christina’s. The food was incredible and the private dining room (I was with a big group) was lovely. Have a good trip!

  • 15 Kristi // Jun 27, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    I don’t have any advice just wanted to wish you a fun and safe trip and take lots of pictures.

  • 16 Niki // Jun 27, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    I enjoyed a stay at the Wayfarer’s Rest (hostel) on San Juan a couple of summers ago. It was clean and reasonably priced.

  • 17 Seattlejo // Jun 27, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Me is right that you need to check out the yarn its Warm Valley Orchard http//www.wa The website could use a little love but theyyarn is beautiful.

  • 18 Karan // Jun 27, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    You need to get your reservation in for sometime soon, like last April. The ferries fill up every single weekend, starting Thursday evening and ending Monday afternoon for the return trip. Folks even park their cars in line and then return the next am to catch a ferry.

    Don’t forget Rosario’s…it’s the tre chic place on Orcas and comes with a spa and costs a bundle. We like Christina’s which is a Mexican restaurant. There’s a place in Eastsound, Smuggler’s Villa Resort , very close to the airport which was a big plus for our son…not a noise problem at all and is very nice with a kitchen and laundry facilities. The truth is that it doesn’t matter where you stay or eat because the beauty of the place trumps everything.

  • 19 andrea griffith // Jun 27, 2007 at 4:47 pm
    My husband and I stayed in one of these cottages six years ago on our honeymoon – very private and nice. Pictures don’t do the cottages justice. we stayed in the “daisy” cottage but it is not listed here.

  • 20 Tai-Tai // Jun 27, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Hi not martha,
    22 years ago this coming August we stayed at Rosario. The place was nice the food was excellent. The Islands beautiful! We took the ferry to Friday Harbor and had a nice afternoon there. We always talk about going back someday. Maybe we should plan that for our 25th anniversary. We of course did not spend as much time exploring the Islands as we should have. Honeymooners! The view from our balcony was fabulous too!
    Hope you have an excellent time wherever you stay!

  • 21 Mrs Figby // Jun 27, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    You don’t know me, but one of your readers sent me over here to advise you because I currently live on Orcas Island.

    I actually don’t know a whole lot about lodgings, since I usually sleep at my own house (ha!) although I’ve had friends stay at West Beach and like it.

    As for eating, Bilbo’s is the Mexican restaurant, and is very good and casual. Christina’s is gourmet and mostly seafood and is typically fabulous, but they occasionally have an off night. The best restaurant on the island is Inn at Ship Bay. Do not miss it. If you don’t eat anywhere else, eat there. Olga’s, which someone else mentioned, is no longer open, but for an amazing French lunch, go to Chez Chloe. Rose’s is also great for lunch — the pancetta pizza is to die for (unless you’re a vegetarian, of course.) They also have FABULOUS chocolate cupcakes in the bakery at Rose’s.

    Make sure you get reservations for any place you’re having dinner, esp near the weekend. Most restaurants here are closed on Mondays, but Bilbo’s is open that night.

    And what was said about the ferry is true. If you’re arriving on Friday or leaving on Sunday, you’ll need 2-3 hours lead time before the ferry you want to catch. Otherwise, an hour is usually sufficient. The earlier the ferry you take, the more likely you are to get on.

    Feel free to email me if you want any further insider info. I’d be happy to help.

  • 22 Sarah // Jun 27, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    It’s not at all what you asked for but I am seconding Lopez Farm Cottages. Lopez Island is so quiet and beautiful and the people are incredibly friendly. I would go back there in a heartbeat.

  • 23 Julia // Jun 27, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    I camped out in Friday Harbor back in 1998 and it was spectacular! We got there at night and woke up to one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen.

    Have fun!

  • 24 brady // Jun 28, 2007 at 5:37 am

    Try Doe Bay. I haven’t been there in years but it used to be great for camping. They also had cabins and tree houses if I remember correctly, along with natural hot springs. Also, don’t miss the Orcas Island Dump. It sounds trashy, no pun intended, but it is actually one of the coolest places on the island. Again, it has been years since I lived there so it might be different now but back then, great fun. Have a wonderful time!

  • 25 Martine // Jun 28, 2007 at 9:36 am

    2 weeks ago I stayed at the Bayside Cottages in Olga (Orcas Island) and it was great: cozy and very relaxing. For food, I recommend Chez Chloe in East Sound, and the King Fish Inn dining room in West Sound. I noticed that a lot of folks have suggested Bilbo’s but I ate there and thought the food was terrible.

  • 26 Tara // Jun 28, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Apparently everyone else can recommend somewhere to stay, but I can recommend somewhere to visit.

    WOODSONG FOLK FESTIVAL July 19-22,2007

    For the pasts two years, my husband and I and some friends have been traveling to Orcas Island for the Woodsong Folk Festival. It is by far and away one of the most fun folk festivals that I have ever been to.

    A family donates their property for the week/weekend every year and all of the attendees tent/camp on the property and they have a massive community grill that you can grill out on.
    It is a short drive to town, where you can explore for the afternoon and buy groceries and a bit beyond on the town there is a beautiful lake, on your way to a Mtn./Lookout on Orcas-there you can see all of the gulf islands.

    Everything at Woodsong is by donation. There are not set fees, but because of the wide array of musicians, portable urinals, and clean up, they request a 10 dollar donation per person!

    You can check out the websites above and a myspace website too, to hear the musicians that will be there.

  • 27 trtlgrl // Jun 28, 2007 at 11:13 am

    I recommend Otter’s Pond, on Orcas Island. It is so peaceful there, and the breakfasts are gormet! The owners are very sweet too!

    If you stay there, tell them Rachel and Owen from Oregon sent you :) We haven’t been able to go there for a couple of years and I totally miss it!

  • 28 Diane // Jun 28, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Honeymooned at Rosario’s.

    Still happily married, almost 27 years later.

    That’s my vote!

  • 29 jennifer // Jun 28, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Try Inn to the Woods – a B&B on San Juan. We stayed there Spring ’06 – really lovely and great hosts!

  • 30 michelle // Jun 28, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    My sis and I had a girls weekend at Argyle House on San Juan. It’s a B&B that’s within walking distance from Friday Harbor. It’s the only place I stayed at up there, so not much comparison. The breakfasts were excellent and the hostess was so nice and informative.

    Best part about the ferry terminal there, is that you can park your car and then walk over to the shops or restaurants. And there’s a wine shop right next to it…and they do tastings!

  • 31 thea* // Jun 29, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    some of them are pricey but some are right on the water. lots of privacy with nice scenery ^_^

  • 32 Linda // Jun 30, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    Deer Harbor! We had our wedding reception, such as it was, there. They have some very nice rooms with comfy jacuzzi tubs and gas fireplaces.

  • 33 Courtney // Jul 1, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    We used to stay at the Beach Haven cabins on Orcas and loved them. There are slightly rustic and vary in size depending upon how many people you have in your party. All of the cabins are within their private beach area, so beautiful and quiet. I think the website is

  • 34 Kristel // Jul 2, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    I’d have to say Orcas over San Juan. I just got back from there yesterday, and San Juan (i.e., Friday Harbor, which was my only stop admittedly) was too Pier-39-if-moved-to-Sausalito for me. Orcas was by far more entertaining–it had more of an arts community feel to it.

  • 35 Daniel // Jul 3, 2007 at 11:40 am

    Lopez Island. Go to Lopez, it is the nicest of the islands. My family has been taking bicycling vacations to Lopez since the late ’60s and I love it there. We always camp at Spencer Spit State park, but there are hotels and B&Bs too.

    Eat breakfast at Holly B’s Bakery

  • 36 Susie // Jul 3, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    I’m going to Orcas next month too! We’re staying at the same house we rented three years ago. It’s awesome, but it’s big enough to house 12 people, so I’m guessing it’s too big for you guys. (Besides, I’m pretty sure it’s all booked up for the summer.)

    I highly recommend a visit to Orcas Island Pottery. They have a great swing and about half of the work is displayed outdoors — it’s worth the trip for both the pottery and the scenery.

    Also, it’s a great place to find a wedding present…

    Okay, now the whole time I’m on Orcas, I’m going to be looking at everyone to see if it’s you! (Gee, that didn’t sound too stalkerish…)

  • 37 sarah // Jul 8, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    When we went to the islands in Sept, 2004, we stayed at Juniper’s place, the Juniper Lane Guesthouse. I cannot recommend this place ENOUGH!

    Juniper herself is a wonderfully welcoming woman, very warm and kind, and her house is BEAUTIFUL. The aesthetic is rustic-artistic, the palette suitably warm and welcoming for dark northwest nights, the attention to detail incredible and so thoughtful.

    Juniper has private rooms (and a separate cabin) as well as hostel-style living – all beautifully dressed in deep cozy colour, rich woods, stone and mexican tiles, etc. (most of which have been salvaged from all over the country).

    Additional benefits include her incredibly reasonable prices, quiet location (just outside of Friday Harbour), AND her mother works at the delicious Duck Soup Inn – so a call from Juniper can score you a last-minute dinner reservation. =)

    Do, do do check out her website. There’s a reason her guestbook is filled with gushing invitations from her guests to stay with them in their homes.

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