Thomas J. Story
As foodie tourism goes, Orcas, the jewel of Washington's San Juan islands, is one of the West's most enchanting options. Settlers have farmed the island since the 1870s, but only recently have they begun to organize themselves for visitors ― setting up on-site produce stands, perma-culture classes, even an informal petting zoo.
Orcas Island is reached via a 1-hour ferry ride from Anacortes, WA (80 miles north of Seattle). Check with Washington State Ferries (206/464-6400) for schedule and fare information. You can also take a seaplane from Seattle's Lake Union (with free shuttle service to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport) to one of three destinations on the island. Contact Kenmore Air (866/435-9524) for more information.
COTTAGES TO RENT
Orcas Island has plenty of vacation rentals. Most of them rent for a minimum of one week during summer months, but become negotiable the rest of the year. Ask about off-season rates.
Cherie L. Lindholm Real Estate. Ken and Karen Speck's 45 rental properties range from a one-bedroom near West-sound ($850 per week before Sep 17) to a four-bedroom waterfront house with a hot tub ($1,900 per week). www.orcashomes.com or 360/376-2204.
Orcas Island Realty. Diamond Hill Waterfront House ($1,800 per week) overlooks Rosario Strait; Grindstone Harbor estate (about $5,000 per week) is lush. www.orcasislandrealty.com or 360/376-2145.
The Place at Cayou Cove. Four cottages at a tasteful turn-of-the-century inn overlooking Deer Harbor have well-equipped kitchens and barbecue grills. From $305 per night; www.cayoucove.com or 888/596-7222.