Outside magazine, April 1995
Back when the waters off Orcas Island were still teeming with the namesake whales, Lummi Indians from the surrounding archipelago held potlatches in a protected cove on the island's rocky southeast coast. The Lummi no longer visit, but the allure of their wooded sanctum lingers in Doe Bay Village Resort, 65 miles north of Seattle, a rustic array of secluded campsites and clapboard cabins stretched along 600 feet of ocean.
Otter Point is the hot spot for camping, with a dozen sites strung precipitously above the shoreline and another ten sites clustered farther inland amid prodigious mountain ash and Douglas fir. There's also a large meadow open to "field camping," a tent platform perched in an oversize apple tree, two canvas yurts, a hostel, RV sites, and 21 cabins scattered across the 60-acre spread.
Alfresco hot-tubbing is the pagan rite that binds contemporary pilgrims at Doe Bay--a morning soak in pools above Otter Cove or an evening sweat in the adjoining wood-burning sauna are occasions to cast aside inhibitions (and clothing) and compare notes on island adventures. There's no need to stray far: Island Kayak Guides ($30 per person; 206-376-4755) runs half-day trips from the resort's sandy beaches to the wildlife refuge in Rosario Strait. Among the offshore kelp stands and tidal rocks, paddlers will see abundant waterfowl, sun-basking harbor seals, and if they're lucky, the synchronistic surfacing of a pod of orcas. Starting this summer, mountain bikes will be available on the premises ($20 per day), allowing easy access to surrounding farmland and nearby Moran State Park, where a web of hiking trails circles 2,400-foot Mount Constitution and its spectacular stone-tower summit.
Camping at Doe Bay is on a first-come-first-served basis--$16 for sites and $12 for field camping (starting in May you'll be able to make reservations). Reserve well in advance for a yurt ($45) or a cabin ($41-$91). For more information, call 206-376-2291.