Maine June 02, 2017
Take Camping To A Whole New Level On These 10 Gorgeous Maine Islands
Camping in Maine during the summer is a wonderful perk of being in the best state in the USA! And, if the weather ever gets its act together (ahem – we’re ready to put our sweaters away, mother nature!) it’ll be time to pack that tent and sleeping bag for summer trips in the outdoors. But, this year, rather than staying close to home you might want to consider something new. Here are a few islands in Maine that you might not know you can camp on!
1. Whaleboat Island Preserve, Harpswell
Whaleboat is located between Chebeague Island and the southern end of Harpswell Neck. With 122 acres, it is the largest wild island in Casco Bay. Camping is allowed only in designated spots and for a maximum of two nights at a time. While there aren't any real trails, the walk around the island at low tide is pretty gorgeous. Getting here requires launching a boats from the nearest public boat ramp, the Mere Point launch in Brunswick. If you plan on parking here overnight you'll need to get a parking permit. For all the information you'll need on campsites, rules and parking permits
2. Jewell Island, Casco Bay
The island is only accessible by boat and there are no scheduled ferry services. So, find yourself a craft or a seafaring friend and get ready to experience one of the loveliest outer islands off the coast of Portland. There are so many accessible paths here, we can't list them all but trust us when we tell you that the 221 acres of island habitat will not disappoint. Those looking for more adventure can pack camping gear and make a weekend of it in the campgrounds on the island. History buffs will enjoy the relics left from WW1 and WW2.
3. Merchant Row, Hancock and Knox Counties
Merchant Row actually refers to the body of water between Stonington and Isle Au Haut. While there are a number of preserves located within this network of islands, you'll want to head to either Saddleback Island (the largest) where there is one campsite or Nathan and Little Nathan Islands for camping. Nathan and Little Nathan are joined during low tide. You can access Nathan Island from the launch at Isle Au Haut. From there you'll want to end up on the east end where there's an area for just a few small tents.
4. Hermit Island, Phippsburg
f 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. 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. For more information from a past article
5. Marshall Island, Bass Harbor
This huge island is one of the largest undeveloped islands on the eastern seaboard! The entire island is made up of the Ed Woodsum Preserve and the Maine Coast Heritage Trust has created and maintained about 10 miles of actual hiking trails that allow for exploration. But, be careful here - the rocky coast can be dangerous and you might not have reliable cell service. Camping is allowed only in designated spots for a maximum of two nights at a time. For all the information you'll need on campsites, rules and parking permits
6. 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. If you're a literature lover, you'll enjoy knowing that Steinbeck once spent two nights in Deer Isle! We're not sure if he camped or not, but we like to imagine he did!
7. Stave Island, Gouldsboro
Located about a quarter of a mile from Gouldsboro in Frechman's Bay, Stave Island is home to the Stave Island Preserve. The preserve occupies about 121 acres of the southern tip of the island. Visiting is beautiful and the views include Mount Desert Island and the higher peaks of Acadia. There aren't any real trails here, but there are a few footpaths that will allow you to explore. Camping is limited to designated spots for a maximum of two nights at a time. For all the information you'll need on campsites, rules and access
8. The Goslings, Harpswell
If not for the generous support of the public, these beautiful islands might not be around for us to enjoy. In 2014, they were offered to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust at a discounted price by the previous owners who hoped to see the area permanently conserved. Today, they're a lovely place to explore and enjoy the salty Maine air. The small network of islands includes 4-acre West Goslings, 8.6 acre East Gosling and tiny 1 acre Irony Island. Camping is available at the north end of West Gosling, where there is room for a just a few lucky tents. There's a smaller campsite at the southern end of East Gosling, but you'll need to be one of about two tents that can fit! Lastly, at the northern end of East Gosling there's a larger area for groups that must be reserved in advance. For all the information you'll need on campsites, rules and parking permits
9. Calderwood Island, North Haven
Located in East Penobscot Bay, Calderwood features rocky coast, sandy beaches, cliffs and even a forested portion covered in spruce. Camping is allowed in designated sites at the east and west ends of the island. Maintained trails can be used to hike between the two campsites. To get here, you'll want to land at the beach on the north side of the island.
10. Tinker Island, Tremont
Located in Blue Hill Bay, the 230-acre McKenney Preserve makes up about half of Tinker Island. A visit here means beautiful views along the beach, along with lots of places to picnic and stroll along the shore. Camping is allowed at two designated campsites. One is located near a sandy area on the west side where swimming is great! The other can be found on the north end of the island.
As with any camping you do, be sure to respect all the rules that are in place. Most areas do not allow any open fires without a permit and even then, you’ll need to follow certain rules for where they’re located. Many thanks to the
Maine Coast Heritage Trust website from which we were able to pull some information. You can search their preserves by location or activity type if you click here. And, click here to visit them on Facebook.
Speaking of summertime fun in unexpected places, did you see our article about Maine’s natural waterslide at Step Falls?
Check it out by clicking here!