Doe Bay Resort & Retreat and Café on Orcas Island, WA
Get your tranquil on
There’s a certain something about Doe Bay Resort & Retreat on Orcas Island in Washington State that needs to be experienced to understand. I am not sure I can do it justice in words, as “feelings” and “experience“ are the key to understanding and falling in love with this place.
Doe Bay is 90 miles north of Seattle in the San Juan Islands. The trip takes about 45 minutes by float plane, or four hours by car and ferry.
Located on the southeast side of Orcas Island this tranquil destination maintains a 40 acre peaceful vibe contained within woodlands, water views, passing sailboats and kayaks, an outstanding café and the spirit of relaxation. “At Doe Bay, all are invited and all our welcome. We want to share our bounty – this wonderful wonderland- in an atmosphere of tolerance, peace and serenity.” With a vision like that direct from the owners, what could possibly not be right with the world?
I arrived on the island on a warm fall day. Lying squarely in the “sun belt,” the island is blessed with sun rather than the Northwest’s infamous overcast gloom. At this time of the year, the ferries are light on riders. Plenty of choices to pick just the right seat or take a picture on the deck.
My first priority once off the ferry, was to take a spin around the island. I am glad I did, as this short trip set the stage for the magic to come. Be sure to check out these places on your way to Doe Bay Resort: Girl Meets Dirt, Mount Constitution in Moran State Park, and the iconic Rosario Resort & Spa.
First impressions are important, as are the memories you leave with when you’re done. Doe Bay Resort & Retreat is reminiscent of the Northwest I loved many years ago as I worked as a special education teacher and brought up my family in Bothell, WA. I had thought the quintessential Northwest experience I loved so much had passed me by. Yet here, I reveled in the slow-moving, unplugged feeling. Who can resist local cuisine, acres of camp sites, yurts, cabins, and even a tree house? Not me…and I am betting, not you.
Arriving at Doe Bay, I got out of the car to look at the spa facilities first, on my way to lunch. I had no idea Doe Bay is known for its clothing-optional hot tubs. The receptionist took one look at my camera and said I could not take any pictures. Who knew? The flower child in me, grinned. Let’s just say the mellow vibe inside the mostly outdoor facility perched beside a waterfall was all that and more.
Other things to enjoy include an onsite organic garden, yoga classes, massages, a writer’s workshop and an annual summer music festival. I can see why hippies of all generations flock here. Think a haven both remote yet full of community, where deer wander freely among visitors. No TV and minimal cellphone coverage make sense. A few of the hiking, biking and walking trails in Moran State Park are two miles from Doe Bay, which may be walkable for some readers, however the main trails in the park are approximately 5 miles away and more easily accessed by car to trail head.
Of special interest for the day or overnight guest is the Doe Bay Café. It is a model for correctly using local ingredients and sustainability through simple and artful preparation.
Executive Chef Jon Chappelle was our chef and host serving a pescatarian menu. What is important to remember is his dedication and appreciation for the connection between garden, local farmers, fisheries, community. You can sense it in every delicious, creative bite. The dishes are exquisitely prepared and each dish is a visual feast. This is another one of those times where I repeat, the greatness of the food and vision for the café is not adequately conveyed by words, it is by experiencing it.
Inside and outside (weather permitting) dining. Wine and soft drinks are available. Call for days and hours of operation. It is definitely worth the drive whether you are staying the night or stopping for the day.
Somehow Orcas Island and this particular resort has managed to stay untouched and inviting any time of the year. It’s a quirky place where time seems to have stood still. When you come, explore it by boat, bike or car.
San Juan Visitors Bureau
Doe Bay Resort & Retreat
Doe Bay Café
107 Doe Bay Road, Olga, WA
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Note: As is common in the travel industry, this author was provided with certain free considerations for the purpose of this review. While it has not influenced this review, I am happy to provide full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.