With technology and connectedness, it’s hard to truly feel like you’re in a place that’s slow-paced. Even small towns that promise a “laid-back” vibe come with Main Streets, attractions and taxis looking to shuttle tourists from one museum to the next. But, Monhegan Island is different. The tiny island is about ten miles from the mainland and can only be traveled to by boat. One of its most defining characteristics is the lack of cars and paved roads.
It’s historically been a thriving fishing community, with a focus on the winter lobster season. But, today as an increasing number of people move back to the mainland the economy is a bit more tourism involved.
The year-round community of the island is around 75 people. There is one schoolhouse for students in kindergarten to 8th grade. High school students must make their way to the mainland for their education.
There are no banks, public bathroom or garbage cans. So, anything you bring to the island must be carried back with you.
Tourists flock to Monhegan Island for its picturesque streets, idyllic homes, slow pace and – of course – its artist colony.
The start of the art colony here dates back about a hundred years. There have been many notable artists living on the island, including George Bellows, Rockwell Kent and Edward Hopper.
The incredible landscape, shore and cliffs make for some wonderful inspiration and tourists spend lots of time photographing these areas.
Today, many of the on-island artists offer viewing hours in their studios. Click
more information on the artists and galleries that call Monhegan Island their home.
Beyond meandering around the village, there’s plenty of to see around the island.
Located on a hill beyond the village is the Monhegan Island Light, offering a view of the village, the harbor and Mañana Island.
The Monhegan Museum of Art and History is located in the home of the former lighthouse keeper’s house. It was recently added to the Registry of American Historic Sites.
In the summer, visitors and residents can swim at
Swim Beach. But, it’s not for the faint of heart! The water is known to be very cold.
Manana Island forms a portion of Monhegan Harbor and is said to have a rock with Norse or Phoenician inscriptions.
The Meadow is located in the center of the island’s Village and is the source of the public water supply. It’s beautiful to look at and photograph.
Check out the
Tercentenary Tablet inside the yard of the island’s one-room schoolhouse. History buffs will appreciate that it commemorates John Smith’s first visit to Monhegan in 1614.
Harbor seals spend their time on many of the rocky outcroppings close to the Island. They’re best seen around the half-tide mark during a trip around the island.
Keep an eye out for other wildlife as well - especially birds. The island is on the "Atlantic Flyway," which means it's a stopover for migrating birds.
There are approximately 12 miles of trails leading through the island’s forest and along rocky ledges up to the high ocean cliffs.
These can be extremely dangerous, so always exercise caution when exploring areas that are outside of the village.
The only major medical facilities are located on the mainland and dialing 911 can be a dicey proposition with spotty cell service. All the more reason to be very careful at all times.
Monhegan can be reached from Port Clyde, New Harbor, and Boothbay Harbor via a few different boat services, as well as private boats. However, there are only a few guest moorings available so you’ll need to plan that in advance.
Most importantly, if you visit Monhegan Island you’ll read that it’s “not an amusement park.” The year-round visitors are passionate about keeping the community clean, quiet and at the slow pace that makes it so wonderful.