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San Juan Islands-Orcas Island and Doe Bay

I am planning an eight day trip next month to San Juan Islands. Four of those nights are at Doe Bay.We will have a car, but since we want to explore the island during the day and have a nice dinner somewhere, I am wondering if Doe Bay is too isolated. Would love any thoughts on this as well as favorite hiking. We leave for our trip in ten days!

Posted by
1833 posts

Sure, Doe Bay is isolated, but that's kind of the point. And it's only about 20 miles from the ferry terminal. With a car you can easily explore Orcas Island in a day.

https://www.visitsanjuans.com/hiking-orcas-island

https://wheatlesswanderlust.com/hiking-orcas-island/

You don't say where else you will be staying for the other four days, but I assume for the four nights you are staying at Doe Bay, you won't be leaving Orcas.

This time of year you will have very long days and it won't get dark until around 10pm, so I wouldn't start second-guessing your plans at this point. Enjoy!

Posted by
120 posts

Hello! I stayed at Doe Bay Resort a few years ago and didn't find it too isolated. Orcas Island isn't that large, as you probably know (56 sq mi), and the roads are good. We had a nice dinner in EastSound one night. We did a lot of exploring, and it was always wonderful to return each evening to Doe Bay! Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
11483 posts

Hopefully you have seen this--

https://wsdot.com/ferries/schedule/ScheduleDetailByRoute.aspx?route=ana-sj

Get your reservation so you can get on the ferry when needed

The state ferry system is fragile. It should have 28 boats, per the state experts. It has 21 and only 15 are in service.

If you are flying home after your visit, plan to be off the island the day before. Break down or crew shortage is not as rare as it should be.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for all the replies. I have decided to keep with my plans to stay as Doe Bay-I think it will be great. NPR recently did a small segment on the troubles with the Washington Ferry system -hoping we don't have delays.

Posted by
5 posts

I was told that if I don't have a car, which I won't, that I don't need to make a reservation. For those in the know, is that correct?

Posted by
11483 posts

I am planning an eight day trip next month to San Juan Islands. Four of those nights are at Doe Bay. We will have a car,

and this

I was told that if I don't have a car, which I won't,

I am confused.

Will you be taking a car to the island?

Posted by
245 posts

Per Joe32F question, it sounds like you'll rent a car on Orcas Island? if so, do you know how you will get to Anacortes or Sidney, BC, i.e. parking a car there?

Posted by
6 posts

WA State resident here... you do not need (and cannot in fact make) a walk-on passenger reservation. You can only reserve for vehicles.

https://secureapps.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/reservations/vehicle/default.aspx?op=Make+reservations

Walk-ons are generally not a problem. The large ferries WA runs to the San Juans carry 1000-2000 passengers and about 180 cars. In thirty years of riding ferries in WA State, I've only seen 1-2 times where the ferries have limited passenger boardings which would mean you'd have to get on the next ferry (generally 1-3 hours later, depending on time of day). I'd still arrive 30 minutes early for a ferry even as a walk-on, but it's generally not a problem. Walking on and getting a car on the Island if possible is a great idea!

Posted by
1368 posts

Here are some of the places I really enjoyed on Orcas Island for eats and suds. The brewery was so much fun with service and ambiance fabulous. They treated you like you were part of the community. They don’t serve food but welcome outside food.

Buck Bay Shellfish is fantastic if you enjoy beautiful views while noshing on the best and freshest shellfish anywhere.

Doe Bay Resort is a great choice for relaxation. Be sure to immerse yourself in the evening at the soaking tubs and sauna. Especially nice after a hiking trip to work out those tired muscles. No, I don’t have any affiliation with the resort but really enjoy my time there.

Enjoy your trip

https://www.islandhoppinbrewery.com/

https://buckbayshellfishfarm.com/

Posted by
5 posts

This has been very helpful! We are renting a car on Orcas Island. Looking forward to exploring, driving the byway, hiking, relaxing at Doe Bay.

Posted by
2 posts

Orcas resident here. Welcome to the islands. Just a few heads up. Even though you won't need a ferry reservation without a car, the ferries are often very late in the summer especially if there have been cancellations. Once on island use caution while driving. Be on the lookout for bicycles, pedestrians walking in the middle of the road (in town) and deer that can pop out in front of you. Max speed limit is 40, 25 in town and our police are looking for tourists going too fast, especially in the park. Restaurants come and go around here but some favorites are Buck Bay shellfish, Kingfish Cafe, Mijitas, New Leaf and Inn at Ship Bay. Doe Bay has a good restaurant too. The hot tubs there are clothing optional and the times I've been swim suits were the minority. If you must whale watch (chase), use Deer Harbor Charters not the one in Eastsound that "guarantees" whales. One last thing; respect no trespassing signs and private road signs. There are very few public access beaches on Orcas. Enjoy your trip!