With a land area of 57.3 square miles and a population of 5,387, Orcas Island is slightly larger, but less populous, than neighboring San Juan Island. Orcas is shaped like a pair of saddlebags, separated by fjord-like Eastsound, with Massacre Bay on the south side, and tiny Skull Island just off the coast. At the northern end of the island is the village of Eastsound, the largest population center on Orcas and the second largest in San Juan County.
In 1989, the people of San Juan County asked the federal government to purchase a Lummi Nation site on Orcas Island’s Madrona Point in Eastsound. The land was given to the Lummi who agreed to operate it as Madrona Point Park, a private preserve characterized by hundreds of twisting madrona trees sprouting from the rocky shoreline. Several years ago, the Lummi tribe declared the land sacred ancestral burial grounds and the park was closed following incidents of vandalism. Public access has been denied since that time.
Other, smaller towns – or hamlets – on the island include Orcas (where the inter-island/mainland ferry lands), West Sound (technically part of Eastsound), Deer Harbor, Rosario (technically part of Eastsound), Olga and Doe Bay. There are a number of former settlements that no longer exist, which were mostly built up around the lime kiln industry, including Ocean, Newhall, and Dolphin Bay.
Orcas Island is accessible by air via Orcas Island Airport or water landings by seaplane as well as by water via the Washington State Ferry system or private watercraft. During the summer season, there is an island shuttle that runs from the ferry landing to Eastsound and other points.
The Orcas Island Historical Museum is located down town Eastsound and is the only object-based, interpretive heritage facility for the island, with a permanent collection containing approximately 6000 objects, paper documents and photographs.
The Lambiel Museum is a small private collection in the home of local resident Leo Lambiel. Lambiel’s museum contains a collection of works inspired by the San Juan Islands, including works by Helen Loggie. The museum is open to the public by appointment.