Across the Sinclair Inlet from Bremerton, Port Orchard—the Kitsap County seat—shows a split personality. The prosperous waterfront section faces the marina with covered walkways, colorful murals, antique shops, and cozy cafés. This contrasts sharply with the standard Wal-Mart and fast-food section sprawling outward on the south end. Port Orchard still keeps a small fishing fleet, and boat sheds fill the harbor, but it is primarily a bedroom community for Seattle and Tacoma, and for Bremerton military workers.
Port Orchard was named for H. M. Orchard, the clerk on Captain Vancouver’s 1792 expedition who first discovered this bay. The town was founded in 1886 and became the county seat seven years later.
Getting to Port Orchard
Catch the Washington State Ferry (360/842-2345 or 888/808-7977, 800/843-3779 for automated information, www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries, $18.50 one-way car and driver, $8 motorcycle and driver, $4.30 extra passengers and walkers, $8 extra kayaks, $1 extra bikes) from the Fauntleroy dock in West Seattle for the 35-minute ride to Southworth on the southeast side of the Kitsap Peninsula near Port Orchard.
Kitsap Transit Ferry (360/876-2300, $1.50 one-way) also offers 10-minute ferry rides across the Sinclair Inlet between Bremerton and Port Orchard for foot traffic and bikes only. Should you choose to go by car instead, it’s a seven-mile drive around the head of Sinclair Inlet to Bremerton.
Kitsap Transit (360/377-2877 or 800/501-7433, www.kitsaptransit.org, $1.50 one-way) provides daily bus service throughout the Kitsap Peninsula and Bainbridge Island and meets all Southworth ferries. Bremerton-Kitsap Airporter (360/876-1737 or 800/562-7948, www.kitsapairporter.com) offers shuttle buses to Sea-Tac Airport.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition