Great Cranberry Island
At 1,000 acres, Great Cranberry is the largest of the Cranberry Isles, but its year-round population is just 40 people. With the arrival of the summer folks, however, the island’s population swells to about 250. It’s possible to explore the island on foot, but a bike will certainly come in handy. The best option, however, is the new Great Cranberry Explorer, an 8-person golf cart that runs back and forth across the island’s one road. Operated by volunteers, the Great Cranberry Explorer is free, but donations are appreciated and go to the historical society. Tip: check the bulletin board in the shack on the pier for up-to-date info on island happenings.
Islesford, aka “Little Cranberry Island,” is the most populated of the Cranberry Isles, with 200 plus summer residents and 70 year-round residents. It’s also the most tourist-friendly island due to its dockside restaurant, historical museum, and numerous art galleries. You can bring a bike, but it’s easy to walk around Islesford, which only has a handful of paved roads. After exploring Islesford, you can check out the economic heart of the Cranberry Islands at the Islesford Lobster Co-op, located next to the town pier. Throughout the day, lobstermen unload their catch and buy bait at the Co-op. If you’re planning a trip to Islesford, be sure to check out the island’s official website: islesford.com
Lying six miles southwest of Mount Desert Island, Swan’s Island features 7,000 acres of classic coastal scenery and one of the prettiest harbors in Maine. Home to roughly 350 year-round residents, visiting Swan’s Island feels a bit like stepping back in time. Other than satellite TV and the internet, little has changed here over the past several decades, and the island’s tight-knit fishing community continues to live a life that revolves entirely around the sea. If you’re looking for the salt of the earth, it doesn’t get much saltier than Swan’s Island.
Isle au Haut
Located 15 miles southwest of Mount Desert Island, Isle au Haut is Acadia’s most far-flung parcel of property. While Mount Desert Island is defined by tourism, Isle au Haut is a genuine working Maine island where fishing has been the primary occupation for over 200 years. Today about 65 people live year-round on the six-mile long by two-mile wide island. Roughly half of Isle au Haut belongs to Acadia National Park—representing arguably the most pristine coastal landscape in Maine. If “rugged,” “remote,” and “rock-bound” are some of your favorite words, it’s time to add “Isle au Haut” to your vocabulary. Learn more about Isle au Haut
Great Duck Island
If you’re looking for extreme solitude and spectacular views, look no further than Great Duck Island. Located six miles south of Mount Desert Island, this small island is mostly owned by the Nature Conservancy, but there is one private house for rent.