Technically speaking, there are over 3,000 islands in Maine. This includes the largest actual island (Mount Desert Island) to tiny ledges that can only be considered islands during a very low tide. There are a fair few that fall right in the middle, perfect for exploring no matter what your budget might be. Here we’ve compiled just a few options, ranging in price from “just-won-the-lottery” to “I’ve-got-a-spare-$5.”
1. Isle Au Haut, Knox County
Isle au Haut is one of the most remote Maine islands. Accessible only by boat via Stonington, the desire to live here requires some self-sufficiency and hard work. It's best for folks who don't need to leave the island very often (can you work remotely?!) or licensed fishermen. If you're visiting, check out out the
Keeper's House Inn
which includes a cottage next to the operational historic lighthouse.
You can get to Isle au Haut via passenger, freight and mail boat service from Stonington year-round. During the summer, the boat also makes stops at Duck Harbor for Acadia National Park visits. It's also possible to camp over at Duck Harbor. But, if you haven't already reserved your 2-day space, you may be out of luck. It books up fast. Check out the
National Park Service
for more information.
2. Frye Island, Sebago Lake, Cumberland County
Frye Island is the only island on this list that is not off the coast of Maine. Instead, you'll find it within Sebago Lake, accessible only by boat during the summer months. There's one other option, though it is illegal and not recommended. Some choose to re-enact "Frye's Leap" based on the legend of Captain Frye. While trying to escape a Native American tribe in Portland, he came to a rock that he was unable to go around. Instead, he decided to leap into the waters of the lake and swim across.
3. Peaks Island, Casco Bay
This small island is one of the most populated in Casco Bay. Still, the year-round population sits at about 900. It has its own police station and library, but it is technically part of Portland. Though tiny, it has several interesting attractions including the quirky Umbrella Cover Museum.
4. Vinalhaven, Fox Islands, Knox County
Vinalhaven is actually a town on the Fox Islands. Only a 2 hour ferry ride from Rockland, it's a great place to spend local vacation. You'll find some bars and restaurants in town, but the best part of the island is the exploring. Rent bicycles to check out the abandoned granite quarries for some chilly leaps into the water. Vinalhaven is also home to Lane's Island Preserve. With a few coastal trails, you'll get some great views of the water while you explore the marshes and plants.
5. Hermit Island, Phippsburg, Sagadahoc County
If you're looking for the perfect coastal camping spot, Hermit Island Campground might be it. While not an island exactly (it's actually connected to Phippsburg via a small road,) it does feel like you're a bit off the beaten path. But, to ensure that feeling you'll probably need to avoid this place during the season. Ocean-view spaces cost about $60 for the weekend, but you can grab yourself a "value" space for about $40. The good news is that any space during the off-season is only $37. Check
for up-to-date information for 2016.
6. Chebeague Island, Cumberland County
Chebeague is another southern island full of beauty. It's got lovely wildlife, from harbor seals to patches of wild blueberries and its close proximity to Portland means you can plan a weekend getaway. Chebeague Island is the 45th largest community in Maine. But, don't hire movers just yet.
This area's homes are ranked among the most expensive in the country! Fun Fact: In 1997, the people of this small community played a significant role in convincing Nabisco to cease plans to discontinue the "Crown Pilot" crackers from their product line. The cracker played an important role in their soup eating habits. In addition to continuing production of the product, Nabisco donated $1,000 to the Chebeague Historical Society.
7. Mount Desert Island, Hancock County
Mount Desert Island might be best known for Acadia National Park. The largest of the islands in Maine, you can easily spend a week here and enjoy something different every day. Plan a major hike up Cadillac, or spend your days hiking the other numerous trails in the area. Families will enjoy the easier to access attractions, such as Thunder Hole and everyone will appreciate the landscape in all seasons.
8. Deer Isle, Hancock County
Deer Isle may be best known for Stonington. Accessible via car bridge, it's not a hard place to visit and it's mid-coast location means it's not too far off the beaten path for those in Portland or Downeast. Those looking for less expensive options, can camp in one section of the island, or choose to stay at the local hostel that has shared or private rooms.
With so many island-hopping options in Maine, we’re sure to have missed some. What are your favorite islands? Let us know over on our