Doe Bay Resort
Doe Bay Resort is the un-resort of resorts. It completely redefines what a ‘resort’ is. If you crave room service, fancy rooms, and public displays of wealth, then Doe Bay is not for you. The kind of people who enjoy Doe Bay are green, smart, and different. From their wide selection of accommodations (you can stay in group cabins, single cabins, yurts, or pitch a tent), their ‘clothing optional’ soaking tubs and sauna, to their permaculture garden which provides a large portion of the food served at their cafe, this family friendly resort reflects the strong DIY mentality, environmental stewardship, and culinary culture of Orcas Island.
The Doe Bay GardenWhile we were at the resort, I was able to get a walk around tour of the grounds. Despite several visits to the resort durring my six month stint on Orcas Island, I had never realized how huge the resort is or how well developed their permaculture garden was.
I got the opportunity to speak with Audrey Nedderman, the resorts garden manager. She started my tour of the garden with a quick nibble on some of the plants they grow for use in the Doe Bay Cafe. She then showed me their portable and fixed chicken coops, their sizable herb garden, and their extensive composting area. The resort composts all waste scraps from the cafe, creating a from-the-earth to-the-earth cycle of food at the resort. This kind of self-sufficient and sustainable food cycle is much talked about today but rarely achieved. I was also excitedly informed that this would be the first year the Doe Bay garden would have a bee hive to encourage pollination.
Almost all food grown at Doe Bay is consumed at Doe Bay. I was told that every year they make efforts to put extra food out for sale in front of the store and at a local farmers market, but between the cafe, the staff, and the guests, not much food leaves the resort and virtually none is wasted. I whole-heatedly applaud the nearly non-existent amount of food waste that they have been able to achieve. Again, this is something that is widely talked about but rarely achieved.
Waystop for Boaters & Kayakers
While tied up to the resorts mooring buoy, I got the opportunity to explore nearby Doe Island. This once popular marine state park fell out of use when the dock was damaged a few years ago and never replaced. It’s still an awesome island for boaters who are confident in their ground tackle. It also provides a good destination point for sea kayakers coming from nearby Cypress Island and continuing into the islands proper or north to Sucia, Matia, Clark or Barnes islands.
The islands close proximity to Doe Bay Resort means that boaters and kayakers can camp on the island for cheap and easily make use of the resorts amenities. The store sells food items, the cafe servers wondrous meals, and the sauna, hot-tubs, and showers are all available for a small day-use fee. The cafe even offers free wifi!
View Doe Bay & Doe Island in a larger map
The map shows our route from Skyline marina in Anacortes to Doe Bay Resort. You can also zoom in to Doe Island to see the hiking trails. You can even download this GPX file for your own GPS if you want to follow our trail to Doe Bay. This GPX file shows the hiking trails on Doe Island. Once we crossed Rosario Strait, we were careful to hug the coastline of Blakely and Orcas Islands to stay well away from the main shipping channel. Mind the current in Rosario Strait as the wrong current can significantly add to your travel time and gas consumption.
Annual Events at Doe Bay
In addition to providing the general resort amenities as well as two year-round mooring buoys, the Doe Bay Resort also hosts several events throughout the year. The biggest event is Doe Bay Fest, which is the Orcas Island version of Woodstock. The webpage for this year isn’t up yet, but you can read this newsletter which talks a bit about the 2012 event. Check out this awesome trailer for a documentary that was made about Doe Bay and the Doe Bay Fest:In addition to this major event, the resort hosts several ‘alternative’ events such as a foragers dinner, several writers workshops, business retreats, and of course, the resort is well known as a destination for hosting gorgeous weddings.
A building dedicated to yoga provides regular yoga classes throughout the week as well as yoga retreats throughout the year. Yoga events typically make use of the group housing to foster the sense of spiritual community present in these activities. The writer’s workshops typically bring big names in the literary field. The coaching and group meeting combined with the private cabin yurts scattered throughout the grounds provide the combination of creative brainstorming followed by solitary thinking so essential to writing and similar creative endeavors.
Overall, it was clear to me that Doe Bay is committed to promoting an open yet dedicated sense of alternative culture. One embracing aspect is the tent city for summer employees. Everyone gets to enjoy the area, weather you are paying or working.