Orcas Island is as crazy for kayaks as the rest of the San Juans, and there are many spots along the shoreline to launch a great adventure on the water. If you're planning on launching your own kayak, be forewarned that you may be subject to a launching fee ($5 at Deer Harbor) if you aren't on public lands.
Pick up last-minute supplies at Shearwater Adventures (360/376-4699, www.shearwaterkayaks.com) in Eastsound, which sells kayak and camping gear, plus a slew of natural history books to learn about the areas you'll be paddling around. Shearwater is also one of the best-regarded tour companies, offering daily paddles from Rosario Resort, Deer Harbor Resort, and Doe Bay Resort starting at $60 for three hours.
For a unique paddling adventure, try your hand at the reins of the hand-built, traditional Aleutian–style kayaks used by Osprey Tours (360/376-3677 or 800/529-2567, www.ospreytours.com). The tours leave from Bartwood Lodge on the north end of the island and can range from one hour ($50) to a full six-hour day ($150). Box lunches can be purchased for longer tours.
Finally, you can just go it alone and rent single or double kayaks in Eastsound from Crescent Beach Kayaks (239 Crescent Beach Drive, Eastsound, 360/376-2464, www.crescentbeachkayaks.com, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. daily, $50 per person half day or $18 per person per hour) or at Obstruction Pass from Lieber Haven Marina Resort (360/376-2472, www.lieberhaven.com, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily, $10–35 per hour).
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition