What is the Windermere Foundation?

The Windermere Foundation was started in 1989 by the owners of Windermere Real Estate, which is based in Seattle. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $33 million to support it’s mission: helping low income and homeless families.

The Foundation began in Washington, but now has grown to serve the 10 western states. Currently, there are more than 40 major organizations that receive significant funding from the Foundation. These organizations provide emergency assistance, and youth and children’s programs.

As part of the Windermere organization, each of our brokers donates a portion of their commission from every transaction to the Windermere Foundation. Each of us is proud to support the Foundation. A portion of the funds that we donate comes back to our office to enable us to donate directly to local organizations within our community that support the same cause as the Windermere Foundation: helping local families right here on Orcas.

 

We have a local Foundation Representative, Elyse Van den Bosch, who works directly with the local non-profits to assist in their applications for funding. We have supported organizations such as the Funhouse, Orcas Family Connections, OPAL immediate housing needs, the Food Bank, and each of the various early childhood programs, to name just a few.

In addition to our broker commission donations, our office has also coordinated various fundraising and volunteer activities to raise additional money for our local non-profits that assist families and children in need.

Being a part of this community is very important to all of us. We take great pride in the fact that our office has put thousands of dollars back into our local community, and we look forward to continuing to do so. If you have questions about the Windermere Foundation, or whether your organization may be a candidate to receive funding from the Foundation, please contact Elyse for more information: elyse@windermere.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner

Posted on October 11, 2017 at 10:37 AM
Windermere Orcas | Category: Articles, Financial, Lifestyle, San Juan Islands

Autumn has arrived on Orcas

There is nothing like stepping outside, taking a deep breath, and pulling your jacket just a little closer around yourself. I haven’t worn a jacket in months – oh the joys of summer. But I can’t resist the smile that emerges on my face as the goose bumps rise. Maybe it has to do with how fresh the air feels, maybe it’s because the island has made it through the summer rush, or maybe it simply has to do with the fact that I love getting to put on my beloved boots and sweaters again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love summer as much as the next person. Sun and heat are two of my favorite things, but this summer was particularly dry for the San Juan Islands and I for one am tired of the color brown. For the last few months everything has just felt dusty and dirty – not something those of us from the great ‘north-wet’ are used to. I miss the green. And so, the return of the rain is something I welcome with open arms.

There is also this miraculous slowdown that happens post-Labor Day. September is still a busy month on the islands, but nothing compared to July and August. It just has an entirely different feel. Now, not only is it easier to get on a ferry last minute, but going to Island Market is no longer a hassle, and everyone is so much more laid back. It’s as if the islands have been holding their breath for two months and are finally able to exhale. Locals stop and chat on the street again, without that wild look in their eyes that says, “I am going to lose it on the next person that asks what times the whales go by”. Yes, that is a common question, and no, the whales do not share their schedule with us bipeds, so please stop asking.

After the breath of September, the islands start churning again, with all kinds of activities suited to the shift of seasons. Savor the San Juans runs from the first day of fall through the first week of November and brings with it many events and opportunities to enjoy the flavors of island life. The Orcas Island Film Festival runs the first weekend in October and has become quite the affair over the last few years, bringing in award winning films from around the world. There are also a slew of lectures, classes, and farm tours that happen through the end of the year. And the holidays out here, truly magical.

As the days begin to cool and the darkness stretches longer than the day, all I can think about is being curled up on my couch with my dog; a fire burning in my woodstove; mouthwatering smells emanating from the slow cooker; hot apple cider warming on the stove. Fresh pressed cider is everywhere on the islands right now and will be the majority of what I drink for the next couple of months, interspersed with some hot chocolate and homemade hot buttered rum. Oh yes, the season of coziness is upon us. Welcome back autumn.

 

Alysha Sherburne | Office Manager

Posted on September 22, 2017 at 9:11 AM
Windermere Orcas | Category: Articles, Lifestyle, San Juan Islands | Tagged , , ,

Real News – Article 2

A few months ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article stating that the San Juan Islands are the fastest growing luxury home market in the country. This article has created many discussions in the local real estate world all revolving around the question: “What does this statistic mean?”. It also asks the question: “Who is really buying on Orcas Island?”

It may surprise you to find out that in the past twelve months, of the 191 sales of both land and residential properties on Orcas Island, 75 of those sales were represented by Buyers already living on Orcas Island. No wonder the locals pay such close attention to the real estate market!

In addition to these 75 purchases, 48 of the sales were by Buyers from the Seattle metropolitan area, and 11 from greater Washington State. That equates to 70% of our Buyers being from Washington State.

The graph below illustrates the breakdown of where our Buyers are coming from overall.

I hope you find these statistics as interesting as I do. If you have any questions, or would like more information, stop by our office here in Eastsound to speak with any one of our highly qualified Brokers….We always love to talk real estate!

 

Sincerely,

John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner

*Source: NWMLS & Realist

 

Posted on September 8, 2017 at 11:44 AM
Windermere Orcas | Category: Articles, Buying, Housing Market, San Juan Islands, Selling

The Gardner Report – Q2 2017

content_17288_WWAGardnerReportQ2_Masthead

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The Washington State economy has been expanding at a rapid pace but we are seeing a slowdown as the state grows closer to full employment. Given the solid growth, I would expect to see income growth move markedly higher, though this has yet to materialize. I anticipate that we will see faster income growth in the second half of the year. I still believe that the state will add around 70,000 jobs in 2017.

Washington State, as well as the markets that make up Western Washington, continue to see unemployment fall. The latest state-wide report now shows a rate of 4.5%—the lowest rate since data started to be collected in 1976.

I believe that growth in the state will continue to outperform the U.S. as a whole and, with such robust expansion, I would not be surprised to see more people relocate here as they see Washington as a market that offers substantial opportunity.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • There were 23,349 home sales during the second quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 1.1% from the same period in 2016.
  • Clallam County maintains its position as number one for sales growth over the past 12 months. Double-digit gains in sales were seen in just three other counties, which is a sharp drop from prior reports. I attribute this to inventory constraints rather than any tangible drop in demand. The only modest decline in sales last quarter was seen in Grays Harbor County.
  • The number of homes for sale, unfortunately, showed no improvement, with an average of just 9,279 listings in the quarter, a decline of 20.4% from the second quarter of 2016. Pending sales rose by 3.6% relative to the same quarter a year ago.
  • The key takeaway from this data is that it is unlikely we will see a significant increase in the number of homes for sale for the rest of 2017.

 

 

 

HOME PRICES

 

  • Along with the expanding economy, home prices continue to rise at very robust rates. Year-over-year, average prices rose 14.9%. The region’s average sales price is now $470,187.
  • Price growth in Western Washington continues to impress as competition for the limited number of homes for sale remains very strong. With little easing in supply, we anticipate that prices will continue to rise at above long-term averages.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in San Juan County where sale prices were 29.2% higher than second quarter of 2016. Eight additional counties experienced double-digit price growth.
  • The specter of rising interest rates failed to materialize last quarter, but this actually functioned to get more would-be buyers off the fence and into the market. This led to even more demand which translated into rising home prices.

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the quarter dropped by 18 days when compared to the same quarter of 2016.
  • King County remains the tightest market; homes, on average, sold in a remarkable 15 days. Every county in this report saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop from the same period a year ago.
  • Last quarter, it took an average of 48 days to sell a home. This is down from the 66 days it took in the second quarter of 2016.
  • Given the marked lack of inventory, I would not be surprised to see the length of time it takes to sell a home drop further before the end of the year.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the second quarter of 2017, I moved the needle a little more in favor of sellers. To define the Western Washington market as “tight” is somewhat of an understatement.

Inventory is short and buyers are plentiful.

Something must give, but unless we see builders delivering substantially more units than they have been, it will remain staunchly a sellers’ market for the balance of the year.

Furthermore, increasing mortgage rates have failed to materialize and, with employment and income growth on the rise, the regional housing market will continue to be very robust.

 


Posted July 26 2017, 11:00 AM PDT by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate. Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. Find the original post here

 

 

Posted on July 27, 2017 at 8:11 AM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Articles, Buying, Housing Market, San Juan Islands, Selling

Fourth of July weekend on Orcas Island – Wow what a show!

Orcas may not be a big island, but it sure celebrates like one. Although July 4th falls on a Tuesday this year, this island will be rocking all weekend long leading up to the big day. Whether you are into shopping, eating, or just enjoying the festivities, there is plenty to keep everyone busy. Here’s what to see and do on the rock over the next four days:

July 1

Eastsound Fire Station Pancake Breakfast @ 7am-11am

This is a great annual fundraiser to support the Eastsound Volunteer Firefighters and EMT’s. They will be serving up their special recipe pancakes, sausage, eggs, and beverages. Cost is $8 per adult and $5 per child with kids under 5 years eating for free.

Farmer’s Market @ 10am-3pm

Happening every Saturday, all summer long on the Village Green. This is a great place to grab produce and flowers from island farms, check out local artists, and grab some lunch.

Independence Day Celebration @ 10am

This celebration of island history, sponsored by the Orcas Island Historical Museum, takes place on the Village Green in conjunction with the Farmers Market. There will be a pie booth, hot dog stand, and beer garden. Then at 1:30 the local Harvey Family will put on a logging show.

Community Parade – “Celebrating Island Creatures” @ 12 noon

Islanders from local businesses and organizations will be dressing up as all manner of animals and parading through Eastsound Village. Parades on this island are a one-of-a-kind experience, so you will not want to miss this.

Lions Club 42nd Annual Salmon BBQ @ 1pm-7pm

The Lion’s Club is involved in many projects across the island, and this event raises funds so they can continue with their great community service. Served alongside the salmon is a baked potato, coleslaw, roll, beverages, and the option of adding on apple crisp. Cost is $18 per adult and $12 for children up to 12 years.

July 3

Deer Harbor Fireworks and Music @ 9pm

Gather down on the docks at the Deer Harbor Marina to hear some music and enjoy the light show. This is a very popular event, so be sure and get there extra early.

July 4

6th Annual Funhouse Commons 5K Run @ 9am

Work off some of those calories from the weekend with a race around the Eastsound area. All ages and abilities are welcome with the kids 1K race beginning at 10am. Registration is $35 per adult and $10 per child. All proceeds benefit the Funhouse Commons, who provides many programs for island kids.

4th of July “inter-Dependence Day” Celebration @ 3pm-10pm

Hosted at Orcasong Farm, this is an evening of music, education, food, and fun. From 3-6pm there is a workshop titled “Music as Medicine” and from 6-10pm there will be a potluck dinner and live music provided by The Living Arrows. Cost is $10-$40.

Eastsound Fireworks @ 9pm

Head on into town in the early evening to hear the Community Band play before the big show. Then find a spot on the beach to kick back and enjoy the fireworks.

Posted on June 30, 2017 at 1:45 PM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Articles, Lifestyle, San Juan Islands

Island Support – GiveOrcas Month

Give Orcas image

It’s GiveOrcas month here on the island and everyone is feeling the love. Locals skip through the streets of Eastsound hugging, laughing, and catching up on the latest gossip. Okay, so maybe it’s not quite as cheesy as one of those quaint villages from your childhood storybooks; life is not all sunshine and rainbows after all. But while there isn’t a whole lot of skipping going on, the hugging, laughing, and gossiping are pretty on par. And this month in particular we are reminded of why we are so lucky to live here: we are a community that cares.

The GiveOrcas campaign is run by the Orcas Island Community Foundation (OICF), whose mission is “to foster philanthropy to enhance and preserve the quality of life on Orcas Island”. They are a public foundation that fosters community collaboration in order to create a strong financial base for supporting local services and organizations. OICF’s role has become increasingly important on this island which somehow supports a huge number of nonprofits – about 1 per 45 residents. This number may seem insane to some, or most of us, but it’s important to remember that Orcas has no real form of government since there is no incorporated town. As such, these nonprofits help to fill the roles that would traditionally fall under a government’s purview.

Now, what is this GiveOrcas campaign? Well, with all of these nonprofits it’s to be expected that the Community Foundation receives a high number of requests for funding, and they simply do not have the capacity to cover the full needs of every organization. So yes, it is essentially a fundraiser. However, this particular fundraiser is as much about creating awareness as creating cash. For at the public’s fingertips is placed an insight into what each organization is hoping to get funding for; whether it be a specific project, program, or for staffing needs. These needs are then arranged, by OICF, into three categories: Critical Needs, Important Needs, and Opportunities. This allows for members of the community to decide where they want their donated funds to go, based on their own individual ideals. And, given that Orcas is a community that likes to support one another, most of these needs are met during this time.

The GiveOrcas campaign runs through May 19th this year with an Awards Celebration being held on Thursday, May 25th from 3-5pm at the Orcas Center.

__________________________________________________________________________________________
Find out more about the GiveOrcas campaign and the projects looking for funding at www.giveorcas.org

To learn more about the Orcas Island Community Foundation and see of list of Orcas Island nonprofits and services, visit oicf.us

Posted on May 11, 2017 at 10:37 AM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Articles, Lifestyle, San Juan Islands

Elevation Certificates

Elevation Certificates

One of the greatest things about owning property on Orcas Island is that you are, well, on an island. Let’s face it, who doesn’t like being surrounded by water on all sides? Okay, so maybe it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are into the whole water thing, purchasing land here can be a great investment in your future. The only thing that could be better? Your own personal piece of rocky beach, waterfront property!

Before you get too caught up in your reverie of owning a slice of heaven, keep in mind that San Juan County has been raising the bar the last several years on issues surrounding the exchange of waterfront parcels. Part of this comes from FEMA, who has been pushing their National Flood Insurance Program after taking a big hit following Hurricane Katrina. So, what does this mean for you as a buyer? Regardless of whether the property you are looking at is high or low bank, flood insurance will be required to receive approval from the Building Department for building plans and occupancy.

Now for the good news: you can get an exemption for flood insurance by providing a FEMA Elevation Certificate. The purpose of this certificate is to prove that your structure, or planned structure, is above the Base Flood Elevation. Base Flood Elevation, as defined by FEMA, is the “computed elevation to which flood waters are anticipated to rise during the base (1-percent-annual-chance) flood event”. Thankfully Elevation Certificates are not difficult to get; however, the process does take time – on average 2-4 months – so it’s important to start this as soon as possible.

To begin, you will want to contact a local survey company as they can help walk you through each stage. Initially they will probably perform a preliminary field review, which can often determine if the structure, or proposed structure, is above the base flood elevation. In San Juan County, these elevations can range anywhere between 11 and 18 feet. If the preliminary findings are not enough, the surveyor will work with you to attain the required elevation certificate.

Here is a look at what to expect from this process:

  • The Corps of Engineers will be employed to determine the base flood elevation for the specific site in question, taking into account the local ecology. Their determination generally takes 1-3 weeks.
  • An Elevation Certificate will need to be completed by a Professional Land Surveyor. If the parcel in question has been built on, the surveyor will check several things including: the structure of the building and foundation, constructed and non-constructed flood openings, square footage, will take photos of all sides of the building, and will measure the elevation of the lowest adjacent grade. Both the survey and the certificate can normally be completed in less than a week.
  • A FEMA application will need to be completed and include the findings from both the Corps of Engineers and the Professional Land Surveyor. Once this package is submitted, they have 60 days to review the findings.

 

Only after this entire review process will FEMA remove a structure or parcel segment from the flood plain, meaning as a buyer, that you will no longer be required to purchase flood insurance.

Tip: If you are purchasing waterfront land that has not been built on, talk to a survey company before beginning projects. Most will work with you prior to the design or construction phase to ensure that any buildings will be above the flood zone.

 

If you have questions and/or concerns about this topic, please contact us here.

A special thanks to Star Surveying Inc and Madrona Point Insurance for their expertise on this topic.

Posted on March 2, 2017 at 3:34 PM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Articles, Buying, San Juan Islands

Top 30 island escapes

dreamtown-orcas-l

Orcas Island, WA

The long summer weekend was invented in Washington’s San Juan Islands,
or should have been. Summer stretches languorously here, with 16 hours of daylight—
enough time to savor orcas and eagles, kayaking and hiking, and a wonderful food scene.
Orcas is the island of superlatives. It’s the biggest of all the San Juans’ 750 islands,
with the highest mountain, the deepest fjords, and the most jaw-dropping views.
All this inspiration draws a notably creative crowd, and many artists call Orcas home for
at least part of the year.
By Thomas J. Story
Published in Sunset Magazine
Posted on August 23, 2016 at 2:00 PM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Lifestyle, San Juan Islands

Why Washington's Orcas Island Should Be Your Next Family Getaway

This was just posted to the Conde Nast Traveler website
Written by Rebecca Misner August 02, 2016

On remote Orcas, off the coast of Washington State, the summer is short, the days are long, and the empty beaches, gin-blue lakes, and dense forest trails add up to the castaway vacation you’ve been dying to take.
Although I’m from the Pacific Northwest, I hadn’t heard of the San Juan Islands until my mid-twenties, when I was living in New York and dating my now husband, Alex, who grew up on Orcas. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I feigned knowledge of his seemingly exotic origins—pre-Google, it took me weeks to figure out that the San Juans were not some Caribbean island-nation but an archipelago of about 175 forested and rocky islets scattered along the Salish Sea, which separates Washington State from Vancouver Island, British Columbia. (Orcas is the largest of the four reachable by passenger ferry.) I’d listened to Alex’s stories about having just 35 people in his graduating class, taking a ferry to play a rival basketball team, not to mention sailing, hiking, and fishing after school—there being no malls or 7-Elevens to slack in. But it wasn’t until I visited a few years later that I finally grasped how tiny and off the grid the island really is—you can drive the 20 miles from Deer Harbor, on the western edge of the M-shaped island, to Doe Bay, on the far eastern side, in about 35 minutes—or how Mowgli-esque his childhood had been.

Alex’s family’s home is on the eastern lobe, where we spend most of our time. It’s a mountainous, lush area, heavily forested with Douglas firs and enormous cedars. The best hiking and all of the clear freshwater lakes are here too, which means it’s where swimming and cliff-jumping take place. (The latter is an Orcas teen rite. of passage that Alex introduced our New York friends to when they decamped to the island for our wedding—the groom and officiant took the plunge about an hour before the ceremony.) The center of the island is mainly rolling farmland with grazing sheep and horses, while the western side is dry and rocky and the vegetation a little scrubbier, giving it a vaguely Mediterranean feel. It’s also, in my opinion, the most beautiful part of this place, and where you’ll find the stunning Four Winds Westward Ho—a throwback of a sailing camp that’s been around since the 1920s. Anyone can enroll their kids, as we do, though to my daughter’s dismay the girls still wear bloomers and middies. Aside from a few more places to eat, and the introduction of stand-up paddleboarding to the island’s water sports repertoire, Orcas looks remarkably as it did when I first arrived 20 years ago. And with no stoplights, big-box chain stores, or tall buildings, it has seemingly changed little in more than a century.

The San Juans’ first recorded inhabitants, the coastal Salish tribes, considered Orcas to be a sacred place. There’s a part of the island, Madrona Point—a wild, rocky outcropping thick with twisted, ­ruddy-barked madrona trees that grow right down to the water—that only Lummi nation tribal members are allowed to access. Orcas’s first white settlers were Hudson Bay men sent in the mid-1850s to hunt black-tailed deer—and who, knowing a good thing when they saw it, decided to stay on, marry local Lummi women, and become homesteaders rather than return to Vancouver Island.

The 1960s and ’70s somewhat predictably brought artists, organic farmers, and other idealists looking for utopian simplicity, while the 1980s, when my in-laws moved to Orcas from Oregon to take over the local newspaper, saw a bizarrely diverse set of transplants. They included followers of the spiritual sect Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment (leader JZ Knight, who claimed to channel a 35,000-year-old sage named Ramtha, moved her publishing operations to the island—Ramtha’s sword is supposedly buried somewhere on Mount Constitution); Hollywood types like producer Richard Donner (of Goonies and Lethal Weapon fame); and outdoor-brand moguls such as surfboard and sailboat designer Hobie Alter and Oakley eyewear founder Jim Jannard. In the 1990s, Microsoft money quietly flowed into the San Juans (Bill Gates owns property on nearby Shaw, Paul ­Allen on Lopez) in the form of subtly expensive, beautifully constructed post-and-beam summer homes. Recently, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, a wavelet of young entrepreneurs, artists, and farmers relocated to Orcas to pursue their passions without the high risk, rent, and competition of big cities.

But regardless of when locals arrived, they all cite similar reasons for staying: the island’s pulse-charging natural beauty (there’s even a cringeworthy term for the landscape’s dizzying effect—Orcasm) and its ­almost primordially human pace. Days are planned around the weather and tides and remain free of mainland intrusion, since cell phones only work in the town of Eastsound (and only sometimes). But also, without fail, they’ll pause, shrug, and resort to words like calling, magical, and spiritual.

Clearly there is magic at play. But for me, it’s not the type that comes from Ramtha’s buried sword. Rather, it’s from returning again and again to an island that so gracefully captures all that is glorious about summer.

LIVE LIKE A LOCAL

Planning a trip to Orcas isn’t plug-and-play, but it’s not daunting (and totally worth it) if you have the right intel.

Finding Your Way There
Orcas is not easy to get to, which is why, even over a holiday weekend in summer, you’ll see only one or two other hikers on the trails and will have the rope swing at Mountain Lake to yourself. You can get to the island by boat or plane.

If you’ve got half a day, going by Washington State Ferry is a nice intro to the region’s geography. Fly into Seattle-Tacoma International, rent a car (you’ll need one on Orcas), and drive 100 miles north to Anacortes to catch the car ferry to the San Juans. (In summer, make a reservation at least two weeks in advance.) During the hour-long trip, you’ll cruise by tiny Blakely, Cypress, and Decatur islands, and maybe see pods of orca whales, or a weekend regatta, before stopping at Lopez and Shaw. The time-pressed should consider flying by seaplane: Kenmore Air will pick you up at Sea-Tac and take you to Lake Union in downtown Seattle. From there the six-passenger crafts fly breathtakingly low—the Space Needle is at eye level as you leave—and when you veer west (try to sit on the left side of the plane), you’ll see all the way up the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Canada. Alternatively, Kenmore can shuttle you to nearby Boeing Field, where you can take a small Cessna plane to Orcas’s airport in Eastsound. Once there, you can rent a car.

Playing House
You’re not going to Orcas for its hotels, most of which are fine, if fusty and dated. The better move is to rent a house. Vacation Doorways has a strong portfolio of rentals—many of them Pacific Northwest modern style, meaning lots of glass and wood with an expansive great room, large wraparound deck, and beach access. If you don’t mind going simple, reserve a waterfront cabin. My favorites are Cabins-on-the-Point on Massacre Bay, on the island’s western side (the two-bedroom house and cluster of early-twentieth-century cabins are ideal for groups), or the log cabins at Beach Haven Resort, on the northwest shore, where the sunsets are spectacular (these book up quickly with regulars, though).

Alex and I have made some of our best summer meals on Orcas. You can find any staples at Island Market in Eastsound. For fresh produce, hit the Saturday-morning farmers’ market in town. It’s a place to hang out as much as to shop—there’s often a local bluegrass band playing, and the prepared food is fantastic (get a round of fried oysters and papusas topped with crema and hot sauce). The best vendor for heirloom tomatoes, baby lettuces, new potatoes, and berries is Maple Rock Farm. Other market highlights: wildflowers from island growers and local fruit preserves from Girl Meets Dirt (the peach-chamomile jam is heaven on toast). We go to Buck Bay Shellfish Farm in Olga at least once a day. Toni Knudson, who runs the farm with her husband, Mark Sawyer (Mark’s family has been farming oysters and clams here since the early 1930s), will shuck a few Pacific oysters for you to eat while you decide what looks good for dinner. There’s usually local salmon (king, silver, or sockeye), Manila clams (small and tender and great in pasta con vongole) or the meatier littlenecks (excellent grilled with a little butter and fresh herbs), and Dungeness crab. For wine, ­­­fresh-baked bread, meats, and cheeses, Roses Bakery Cafe in town is the place.

Getting Out of the Kitchen
As lovely as it is to have your own setup, there are excellent places to eat out—most take full advantage of the access to amazing seafood, island-raised beef and pork, and produce. Stop by Brown Bear Baking on Main Street for a pre-hike coffee and a pastry—any order should include the flaky, buttery kouign-amann and at least one of the huge, gooey sticky buns. The best lunch spot on the island is The Kitchen: It’s little more than a few picnic tables beneath a large corkscrew willow tree, but its take on healthy, fast Asian food has earned it a die-hard following—get the chicken or vegetarian pot stickers with zesty plum sauce and the fried tofu and sesame rice cakes with crispy kale, prawns, and ginger-wasabi-soy sauce. You’ll want to go to Hogstone’s Wood Oven for dinner twice: once to sit outside and drink beer and eat chef/owner Jay Blackinton’s divinely thin wood-charred pizza (the smoked tomato and goat cheese, and Mangalista pork with peppers, are particularly good pies), and a second time to eat in the cozy dining room, with its ambitious locally sourced and foraged tasting menu and well-curated wine list. For a cocktail and classic Northwest farm-to-table cuisine in a (slightly) more formal environment, the restaurant at the Inn at Ship Bay is always solid.

It’s All About the Water
Because of the island’s M shape, there’s a lot of protected shoreline to explore, and sea kayaking is the best way to do so: It’s not uncommon to paddle past orca whales, Dall’s porpoises, and harbor seals while bald eagles and peregrine falcons circle overhead. Shearwater Kayak Tours in Eastsound offers three-hour and full-day trips. Our favorite is the afternoon trip from Doe Bay Resort & Retreat, on the remote eastern tip. It’s so peaceful—it seems like there are fewer private and commercial boats on this side—and we always see a ton of marine life. Bonus: When you return, you can pay a drop-in fee and use the resort’s sauna and hot outdoor mineral pools (they’re clothing optional, which is no big deal unless you run into someone your husband went to high school with). Afterward, head down a fern-lined path to the sound and plunge into the ocean; you may even see some bioluminescence—and during the ten seconds you brave the icy water, you’ll glow.

The Hiking’s About the Water Too
There are dozens of different hikes on Orcas, from casual rambles to serious climbs. The three-mile loop around Cascade Lake in Moran State Park is one of the easier, family-friendly hikes. You’ll have multiple opportunities to swim along the way—from a tame swim park (there’s a lifeguard on duty as well as paddleboards for hire), to a more thrilling jump off a 20-foot-high bridge that separates the lake from the lagoon, to a staggered group of cliffs that only the brave (the lowest cliff is a 25-foot jump) and the stupid (the highest feels close to 60 feet) should attempt. Other gentle hikes include the loop around Mountain Lake (there’s a rope swing near the start if you’re going clockwise) and the half-mile hike to Obstruction Pass, which ends at the best tide pools on the island. My favorite hike, and one of the more difficult, starts at the summit of Mount Constitution and, on a series of thigh-killing switchbacks through old-growth forests, takes you down to Twin Lakes, accessible only by trail.

Worth Their Weight
Despite the 25-pounds-per-person luggage limit on seaplanes, I always bring something back. There are a number of well-respected artists on the island, but my two favorites are master potter Jerry Weatherman, who sells out of his studio, Olga Pottery, and wood shaper Rob Thornber, whose work can be found at the Orcas Island Artworks. Both reference the island beautifully: The glazes Jerry uses on his ceramics—deep indigos, cold grays, black-greens—capture the Orcas palette, while Rob somehow manages to lathe-turn solid pieces of local madrona wood into whisper-thin, organically shaped bowls. Back at home, I drink my morning coffee from one of Jerry’s mugs and use my enormous madrona bowl for salad nightly. It seems fitting that these summer keepsakes have worked their way into my everyday life.

http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2016-08-02/why-washingtons-orcas-island-should-be-your-next-family-getaway

 

Posted on August 4, 2016 at 8:52 AM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Lifestyle, San Juan Islands

Travel & Leisure Magazine Picks the San Juan Islands as the 5th Best Island In the Continental US for 2016

by
Melanie Lieberman
If you thought you had to travel to Hawaii to experience island life in the U.S., you may be surprised to discover that some of the most well-loved islands are scattered around the country’s coasts.
Every year, T+L asks readers to rank their travel experiences in our World’s Best survey. Here, they share their opinions on the best hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. When it comes to world’s top islands, reader scores were based on their natural attractions and beaches, their sights and activities, friendliness, food, and overall value.

In 2016, wherever you are, you won’t likely be too far from one of the best islands in the continental U.S. Half fringe the American South, while the remainder flank New England, the Pacific Northwest, and the southernmost tip of Florida — there’s even one in the Midwest.

In the Salish Sea, just a short ferry ride from the Washington State mainland, travelers have discovered the San Juan Islands, a counterculture stronghold. Creative designers and sculptors, foragers who double as innkeepers and chefs, and nature enthusiasts have made the tight-knit communities scattered across 172 islands welcoming and exciting destinations.

On the opposite coast, readers loved Cumberland Island, Georgia, a 17.5-mile-long stretch of woodlands, marshes, and beaches that sits at the end of Georgia’s Sea Island chain. “It was wonderful to see wild horses,” wrote one reader. “There are beaches to walk on without a crowd — unless you count the horses.” Another raved about the island’s “peaceful, untouched” quality.

That same stuck-in-time feel helped Mackinac Island — between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas in Lake Huron — score the No. 9 spot.

Here, cars are outlawed, making horse-drawn carriages and bicycles two of the more popular methods of transportation. At least 80 percent of the island is preserve parkland, meaning you may just be better off on foot, exploring the historic forts, iconic rock formations, and caves. And most travelers will bed down in the 19th-century Grand Hotel, which offers lawn games and after-dinner dancing.

 

Posted on July 8, 2016 at 3:44 PM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: San Juan Islands