orcas island things to do

Coho Preserve

Coho Preserve, Orcas Island (Accessible to the public)


Coho Preserve is a small yet exceptional natural area which was acquired through a grant from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. Surrounded by towering forest, this magical 24 acre preserve is home to multiple songbirds, raptors, salmon and trout. This rich variety of habitat along Cascade Creek can be relished while hiking the rustic trail loop through the preserve.

Coho Preserve is part of the San Juan County Land Bank public land system. There is a new 3/4 mile trail that climbs alongside Cascade Creek (one of only 3 salmon streams left in the San Juans) in very nice forest (and one or two little meadows). The trail is very short but has enough uphill that it does feel like a leg stretcher, and it’s worth doing. The parking area is on the left just past Catkin Cafe and the Strawberry Barreling Plant Building/Art Gallery in Olga. Keep dogs leashed and out of the stream (keep kids out too–these are vital salmon spawning grounds).

Get a Map!


Take a Scenic Ride on the Ferry


Lopez Island, San Juan Island and Shaw Island. These are the islands that most tourists visit although there are a designated 172 islands and reefs in the San Juan County. There are no bridges or walkways that connect them together, the only way to get around is by boat or by plane.

It’s worth taking a day to discover the natural treasures on the other islands, not to mention the ferry views are beautiful!

Here is the Fall Ferry Schedule (PDF)

orcas island washington

Getting to Know Orcas Island


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.

orcas island wooden boat society

Come Row Our Boats Day – Sunday, July 28


Come Row Our Boats Day
Sunday, July 28, 1 – 5 p.m., Deer Harbor Marina

The Wooden Boat Society of the San Juans is sponsoring a free, Come Row Our Boats day. Participants are invited to take our boats out on their own or we will have experienced boaters to accompany them. Life jackets will be required and available but please bring your own if possible. All ages are welcome. Children and young adults are particularly encouraged. Please join us and experience the many pleasures of rowing small boats. The event will be held at the Deer Harbor Marina, Sunday July 28. Questions? info@woodenboatsocietyofthesanjuans.org.