We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Day trip to ONP or Orca Island?

Wichita, Kansas
posts: 40
Day trip to ONP or Orca Island?

Which would be the day trip most worth doing, going to ONP or Orca Island?

7 replies to this topic
Port Townsend...
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park, Port Townsend
posts: 5,847
reviews: 3
1. Re: Day trip to ONP or Orca Island?

IMO, a day trip to the San Juans it's worth the ferry hassle. Go check out Hurricane Ridge and maybe Sol Duc. Assuming you're departing and returning to Whidbey. Make reservations for the PT ferry.

Wichita, Kansas
posts: 40
2. Re: Day trip to ONP or Orca Island?

How long do you think it would take us from the Coupeville ferry to hurricane ridge visit and back? Trying to estimate for ferry times/reservations

Port Townsend...
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park, Port Townsend
posts: 5,847
reviews: 3
3. Re: Day trip to ONP or Orca Island?

About an hour lining up, crossing and disembarking the ferry. 2 hours, roughly to get from PT to the top of Hurricane Ridge. Same returning.

Edited: 6:51 am, August 14, 2013
Wichita, Kansas
posts: 40
4. Re: Day trip to ONP or Orca Island?

Would you also pick ONP over a visit to Anacortes ? We will do ONP but if Anacortes is great, would prefer to save ONP for next trip when we have more time to spend a few days at ONP....?

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
posts: 4,837
reviews: 4
5. Re: Day trip to ONP or Orca Island?

I have to disagree with my friend Pala on this one. I would save Olympic for another visit and really see what it has to offer. If you get and early start walk on the ferry and get off at Friday harbor and have lunch. I like the Cask and Schooner. For someone who has never taken this ferry, the ride through the San Juans is very memorable and unique. Orcas is also nice, I just like the longer ferry ride and Friday Harbor IMO has a little more to offer.

Port Townsend...
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park, Port Townsend
posts: 5,847
reviews: 3
6. Re: Day trip to ONP or Orca Island?

True. I focused, unnecessarily, on having a car.

Friday Harbor...
Destination Expert
for San Juan Islands
posts: 805
reviews: 8
7. Re: Day trip to ONP or Orca Island?

The name of the island here in San Juan County is Orcas island, not Orca. It was not named after the "killer" whales but for a Viceroy of Mexico who sent an exploration expedition into this region in the late 18th century. The orca whales are actually not often seen from Orcas island but in the summer months it is pretty common to see them off San Juan island (usually on the west side of the island).

Anacortes it is a small town with some nice parks and views but it is nowhere near as interesting or popular for tourists as San Juan or Orcas islands are.

IMO it would be better to spend the limited time you have in Friday Harbor and on SJ island if you decide to come out to the San Juan islands. You can find out a lot more about the islands at the San Juan Visitor Bureau web site: http://www.visitsanjuans.com/ San Juan island was named #1 island tourist destination for 2013 in the USA by on Tripadvisor and #4 in the whole world.

Here is information in detail about the Anacortes ferry terminal and how to get to the ferry landing in Anacortes if you have a car (then you can either take your car on the ferry or park it there and walk on the ferry) as well as webcams showing you the current car holding lot …wa.gov/ferries/… If you do come out to the islands without a car note that this summer there is a special 1/2 price deal with the shuttle van tickets on the Islands. You can find out how to get that deal at this newspaper article: sanjuanjournal.com/lifestyle/208378881.html…

IMO the island of San Juan might be best for a short visit in the summer. Because the ferry comes right to the town of Friday Harbor it's easier for folks to get around as you don't have to drive for 20 minutes from the ferry landing to get to the town like you would on Orcas or Lopez. Also with the shape of the island there is less driving to get around to various sites of interest than Orcas which, because of its unique horseshoe shape, means more driving to get to various locations. The largest town in San Juan County is here on San Juan island -- Friday Harbor (population 2,178). You will find more shops, restaurants etc in the town of FH which has many small attractive gift & boutique shops, a wide variety of restaurants, a movie theater, 3 museums, 3 book stores, art galleries, a bowling alley, and neither fast food chains nor traffic lights. There is a nice marina that you can walk through right in town which is busy in the summer and holds many large yachts and sailing boats, and some commercial fishing boats...it's really pleasant walking around there for those who enjoy looking at the boats (and you may well see a heron or two at night). Often you can see a seal hanging around the floating fresh fish market on the docks. The museum most tourists visit in town is The Whale Museum. Info on that is at whalemuseum.org/museum/details/gallery.html This is a nice little museum for learning about whales and orcas in particular. The museum has full-size skeletons of a whale and a variety of other exhibits and interactive displays. You can find more suggestions for things to do in town at: visitsanjuans.com/the-islands/friday-harbor

With the shuttle van or by car you could also see views of much of the island stopping for awhile at Roche Harbor which has a nice marina (with more large yachts in the summer than Friday Harbor marina gets) as well as a few restaurants. In the summer it additionally has a small outdoor grouping of artist booths selling locally made art. Very nearby Roche Harbor resort is the outdoor Sculpture Garden at Westcott Bay where one can leisurely stroll around and view the many sculptures or just sit and look at the birds on the pond there. For more info on that see wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/westcott-bay-nature-…

Reply to: Day trip to ONP or Orca Island?
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted