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When the producers of Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home were casting for the roles of coastal marine patrollers, they didn't look to the scores of hopeful actors in Hollywood, opting instead to find boating professionals with real experience. Their search led them to Orcas Island Eclipse Charters founders Dan and Denise Wilk, whose extensive knowledge of aquatic wildlife made them a serendipitous choice for sharing the camera with Hollywood's most famous orca.

Aboard their 56-foot vessel, Dan and Denise continue to share the passion that led them to the big screen in the first place. Their enthusiasm shines through to passengers while they guide tours into the habitats of killer whales and harbor seals. Occasionally, expert guides direct passengers to look up from the water to spot deer on nearby land or bald eagles soaring through the sky above. When asked how they happen upon so many natural specimens on their trips, Dan and Denise would tell you they don't leave their tours up to chance, coordinating excursions with a whale-watching service that pinpoints where the underwater mammals are feeding.

8368 Orcas Road
Eastsound,
WA
US

Half a century ago, Orcas Island Golf Course was carved out of a 54-acre estate homestead from the 1800s, rendering a nine-hole course whose contours take advantage of the area’s gently rolling hills and natural water hazards. When developers began salivating over the scenic stretch of land five years ago, local contractor and golfer Kendall Taylor swooped in and saved the course from being transformed into a holding facility for wayward cereal-box mascots, and he has maintained it through the present day with the help of his wife and children. Covered in astoria bent grass, the course boasts a bucolic atmosphere that echoes the traditional fairways and greens of Scotland. Golfers can tackle the course from a choice of four tee stations, looping through twice for a satisfying 18-hole journey, or hone their skills at a driving range. Course at a Glance: * Nine-hole course * Length of 3,010 yards * Course rating of 67.8 * Slope rating of 115 * Four tee options * Link to scorecard

2171 Orcas Rd
Eastsound,
WA
US

The veteran athletes at Peregrine Expeditions nurture their already intimate relationships with Mother Nature during skiing and climbing excursions into the icy peaks of Mount Baker or jagged rock faces of Mount Erie. Backcountry skiing courses hone snow-skimming techniques, and intense skiing tours toe the border between the United States and Canada on two-day treks that embark each morning from a hut at base camp. Adrenaline junkies foray into Forbidden Peak for two or three days, conquering the ins and outs of navigating ice, performing mountaintop rescues, and backpacking in challenging conditions. Kid-specific expeditions tone tiny muscles and teach bird calls used to ask eagles the way to the nearest latrine as youngsters grouped by age engage in courses that span one to five days.

13378 Heart Lake Road
Anacortes,
WA
US

The Outdoor Adventure Center's wildly experienced guides have led groups off the grid for more than a quarter century, pursuing rugged fun in the scenery and fresh air of mountains, rivers, and coastlines. Explorers at heart, the staff boldly launch kayaks into the ocean around the San Juan Islands and conquer the frothy waters of the scenic Skykomish River, known for its beginner-friendly rapids, migrations of spawning merpeople, pool and drop areas, and breathtaking views of 5,000-foot mountain peaks. Horseback and hiking trips delve into the lush woods, and nature photography excursions pause to celebrate the beauty of the wilderness near Index. The core team of 14 guides takes safety seriously, most with certifications from the American Canoe Association, training in wilderness first aid, CPR, and swiftwater rescue, and life vests tattooed over their chests.

521 Bakerview Rd
Lopez Island,
WA
US

Through its Monroe Service Dog Partnership, Summit Assistance Dogs recruits inmates at the Monroe Correctional Complex to help increase its capacity to train service dogs. After being taught extensively in the art of animal training, carefully screened and supervised inmates work in pairs during two months of dog training, during which they help to groom, exercise, and train dogs from shelters, all the while evaluating the animals’ progress and temperament. In turn, the participating inmates get an opportunity to serve the community, take on new responsibilities, and earn incentives for good behavior. Summit Assistance Dogs funds training staff and prison administration time, as well as training equipment and treats for the dogs.

12549 Christianson Road
Anacortes,
WA
US

Orcas Island Trail Rides’ equine adventures lead beginning as well as veteran horsemen through mountainous terrain and old-growth forests in the depths of Orcas Island’s hinterlands. Donning long pants and sensible shoes, riders take in lush woods, verdant pastures, and rocky bluffs while atop one of nine amiable steeds. The South Arch Trail winds around craggy turf, thrilling riders with steep, narrow inclines and dive-bombing squirrels. A popular choice, the South Boundary Trail follows a similarly rugged path, though an extra hour is tacked on to drink in breathtaking views. The Island View trail carts riders to the peak of Mount Pickett, where panoramic bay scenes and photogenic mermen await. For safety, helmets are available on loan free of charge.

Moran State Park
Olga,
WA
US