Orcas Main

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A Green Jewel at the Edge of America Each of the four San Juan Islands that mark the watery border of the Pacific Northwest has its own character, but Orcas - the largest at more than 55 square miles, is the most spectacular scenically - and has the widest range of ways to play.

Car ferry lines can be several hours long in summer, so if you're the active/outdoors type, the best bet is to arrive not in an SUV but on a bike. B&Bs are the mainstay here, but there are a couple of noted resorts, even a nicely maintained 9-hole golf course. Still, this is an island nature-made for hikers, kayakers, and campers.

There's really no town, just a few scattered hamlets. Among them, Eastsound, on the north end of the horseshoe-shaped island, is a good place to rent a bike if you didn't bring one, enjoy a taste of Pacific Northwest cuisine, and look for a small, hand- crafted work from the many artists and craftsmen who have put down roots here.

Whether you bike, hike, or drive to the 2,409-foot summit of Mount Constitution in Moran State Park, you'll always remember the view. From the stone observation tower here (the highest point in the San Juans), a mosaic of islands stretches north to Vancouver, south to the Olympic Peninsula and east to the Cascades. It just may be the most stunning panorama in the Pacific Northwest.

Orcas Island is on our list of the Best Islands to Live On