We arrived at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal 40 minutes before departure time. Due to COVID, ferry passengers were encouraged to remain in their car during the trip, which most people did. We traveled with a two-year-old who was not able to stay in the car the whole time, so we did go into the ferry cabin. Few people were in the cabin because every other row of seats was closed, as was the cafeteria. Almost everyone wore masks, except for those eating, and the one-off rule breakers (I was surprised that ferry staff didn’t enforce mask wearing). Bathrooms were open and the snack and coffee vending machines worked.
1) arrive at least 30 minutes (60 is better) before your departure time 2) make a reservation if you’re traveling over a holiday weekend or during summer. 3) Download movies/podcasts and bring snacks to make the trip more fun.
It was around 5pm by the time we arrived at the cabin, after picking up some groceries at the local market (lots of options, but pricier than mainland). Check-in was easy and the receptionist was friendly. The cabin was really cute and was thoughtfully stocked with everything we needed to cook, and had great views of the water. We made French onion soup for dinner and spent the evening chatting and playing card games in front of a warm fire.
Bring food with you onto the island if you’re on a tighter budget. Everything is more expensive, even basics like garlic. Also, fill up your tank because gas is pricy too.
We went for a hike at Turtleback Mountain North Trail. The trail was surprisingly steep, but we managed with a pregnant woman and a two-year-old. The first viewpoint (North Valley Overlook) was 0.5 miles into the trail, and not particularly special, but the Waldron Overlook (2 miles from trailhead) had beautiful views of the water and of Waldron Island. We chose not to continue to the summit, but I’m sure the view would have been really nice.
1) Bring several warm layers and gloves because you’ll be in the shade for much of the hike, and because the fog is freezing cold. 2) The parking lot is small, so come early.
Lucky for us, we had good weather and were able to eat outside. We had pad thai at Luna’s Cafe for lunch. It wasn’t the best pad thai I’ve had, but it was warm and filling - exactly what I needed on a chilly afternoon.
After lunch at Luna’s, we stopped by Brown Bear Baking for delicious coffee and pastries. This is the place to be; there’s always a line. There were ample socially-distanced tables and chairs outdoors, which was nice. After that, we popped into Forest Ceramics to check out locally-made pottery.
After returning to our cabin, we took a short nap before walking down to the beach to catch the vibrant sunset. We also enjoyed the fire pit for a while before heading inside to warm up and prepare for dinner.
On our last day, we picked up fresh eggs for breakfast. There are farm stands all around Eastsound. We saw a couple that were closed before stumbling on this cute egg stand. It works on an honor system. Slip $6 into the payment box and pick a carton of fresh eggs; this was pricey but worth it for the experience and to support local farmers.
Carry small bills so that you can enjoy the farm stands on the island.
Before leaving to catch our return ferry, we drove up to the viewpoint at Mt. Constitution and also walked up the observation tower. The view of the islands and of Mt. Baker was as stunning as the the stiff breeze was freezing.
1) A Discovery Pass is required for the parking area 2) The water in the restrooms is shut off for the season, but there is hand sanitizer.
We arrived at the Orcas Island ferry terminal 3 hours ahead of the 4:20pm ferry, hoping to get on it as standby passengers because we were unable to secure reservations for it. We did have reservations for the 8:20pm ferry, but that was quite late. While waiting, we picked up a late lunch at the nearby Orcas Hotel Cafe and ate it at the picnic tables next to the terminal. The burger + fries and grain bowl (chicken, avocado, brussel sprouts, etc) were delicious.
Unfortunately, we missed the 4:20pm ferry by 4 cars, and then our 8:20pm ferry was delayed by 40 minutes. Lesson learned: expect long, long waits on your return, especially during a holiday weekend.