Is a spectacular location enough for you?

I could have said something...but I didn't.  I just didn't feel like it would work with the people I was talking to.

Has this ever happened to you?  You're on vacation or out at a restaurant, and something goes wrong and you don't mention it to your server or the front desk or the clerk because you can tell that you're only going to feel worse, not better, after the complaint?

I just got back from three days on the Olympic Peninsula with my family and our new puppy, Lucky Darshan Sugar-cube (it was difficult to decide on his name).  We stayed right on the beach in a rustic cabin, very simple accommodations, perfect for disconnecting from our own busy tourist season.

While the accommodations were simple, the beach was what we came for.  It's gorgeous.  The perfect lay-around with the family, roast marshmellows on a fire, chase waves, and frolic kind of beach.

But after poor service from the front desk and a lousy experience with the only restaurant in 20 miles,  I began to question whether I would come back or not - even though this is the only hotel on this beach.

I realized that a spectacular location is not enough, I want to be treated like a friend.

My friends tell me when I have spinach in my teeth and lipstick on my chin (how'd that get there?).  And they wouldn't send me to a restaurant they wouldn't enjoy themselves or brush off my questions about charges to my credit card.

I thought of all the first-time travelers to our island location, who don't know where to eat, what to do, or whether they are going to be taken care of like a friend. 

The positive take-away (cause that's the kind of lady I am) was realizing again what an impact a simple gesture of true caring can have on another human being.

The team at the Inn want to be your friend.  With that in mind, here are a couple of my local favorites, just to get you started when you arrive on Orcas Island.  I've included things that I personally enjoy and would happily recommend to my best friends.

I don't mention too much about the New Leaf Cafe, I'll let you read other peoples unbiased reviews about that (but you probably can guess my favorite restaurant). 

  Sara's Local Picks

Great Coffee  This is basically just a public service announcement about the quality of coffee on Orcas Island.  It's good and strong. My current favorite is located in Darvill's Bookstore and serves Batdorf and Bronson Coffee, and I name this one specifically only because it satisfies two of my obsessions - coffee and books.  Enzo's (Caffe D'Arte), Teezers (Starbucks), Straight Shots (Pegasus), and Kathryn Taylor Chocolates (Stumptown) all have exceptional coffee as well.  Kathryn Taylor Chocolates, like Darvill's, delivers the double whammy of coffee and chocolate!  If you love a good mocha, it doesn't get much better than this.

Breakfast  Finding a place to eat breakfast when you wake up in the morning (especially if you've arrived late and aren't oriented to where you are) is very important.  I personally cannot stop eating the incredible breakfast at the New Leaf, but I want to give you other options.  When I don't want to be "at work" for breakfast, I love to eat at Mia's, right around the corner from the Inn.  She has a simple menu and a cozy space.  If pastries are your thing (and whose aren't they?) try the Pecan Cinnamon Role at the Wild Flour Bakery, just an easy stroll out our front door.

Hike  I love the 2 mile hike up Turtleback Mountain to Ship's Peak.  The trail is steep, but the view at the top is breathtaking.  In a tremendous outpouring of community generosity and fundraising, this 1500 acre island parcel was saved from development in 2006 when it was purchased by the San Juan Preservation Trust and the Trust For Public Land for a whopping $17 million.  Much of this was raised within the community, from dollars donated by those with little to spare.  And it's for good reason that we all fought so hard.  This is an island treasure not to be missed.  Download a map with directions here.

Shopping  Do not miss Tres Fabu.  This is not what you expect from a little island dress shop.  Nikki Ames, the owner, and her amazing shop girls will take incredible care of you and the uniquely curated, high quality clothing, jewelry, shoes and handbags will have you reaching for your wallet and leaving with at least one serious find.  They also have home accessories in the screened-in porch off the shop.   A note to those with a weak will or a passion for fashion, if you don't plan on spending on clothing or jewelry during your trip, avoid this stop.

Whale Watching  Dan and Denise Wilk of Orcas Island Eclipse Charters have been boating, sailing and loving the wildlife in the San Juan Islands for over 25 years.  Somewhere I have a picture of Denise holding my hand on a dock in Deer Harbor when I was two years old, she's like family and she treats the people we send her like family too.  Nepotism aside (wink, wink) her business stands on its own as a great whale watching and wildlife cruise.  The 56' Orcas Express has great indoor and outdoor viewing, stabilizers in case you have a sensitive tummy, like I do, and their experienced naturalists to educate you about the wildlife.

These are just a few recommendations to get you started, and whether you stay with us or not, we are here to provide you with real human apathy-busting hospitality, so stop by and get one of our Eastsound Food Maps (with a complete list of dining options) or just to say "Hello".

Our passion is sharing this stuff with visitors to Orcas Island.  Good restaurants and the best hikes, and we want to hear what you need during your stay.



P.S. If you have a favorite spot on the island, share ONE in the comments below.

P.P.S. More activities and informationcan be found by clicking here.