Islands Near Acadia National Park, Maine

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Over a dozen small islands lie just offshore Acadia National Park. Many are accessible by ferry and make a great day trip. If you’re looking for peace, quiet, or a genuine slice of coastal Maine, any of these islands are great places to visit.

Cranberry Isles, Maine

Cranberry Isles

Ferry hop between these five gorgeous islands, which lie just south of Mount Desert Island.

Isle au Haut

One of the most rugged, remote – and beautiful – islands in Maine, roughly half of which is part of Acadia National Park. Hike, bike or sea kayak around Isle au Haut.

Swans Island, Maine

Swan’s Island

Lying six miles off Mount Desert Island, Swan’s Islands boats 7,000 acres of classic coastal scenery and one of the prettiest harbors in Maine.

A Short History of Maine Islands

*Adapted from Acadia National Park: The Complete Guide

Over three thousand islands dot the coast of Maine—one of the highest concentrations of islands anywhere in the world. Yet just 15 Maine islands are inhabited year-round. They are among the most culturally unique places in America, and four of them are accessible by boat from Mount Desert Island.

Though largely forgotten today, Maine’s offshore islands played an important role in early American history. Long before colonists landed at Jamestown, thousands of Europeans fished the rich Gulf of Maine. Arriving each spring, they hauled massive amounts of cod, which provided cheap, nutritious protein for Europe’s rapidly growing populations.

When settlers first arrived in Maine in the late 1700s, offshore islands were considered the best places to live due to their proximity to fishing grounds and coastal shipping routes. By the late 1800s, over 300 Maine islands were populated year-round. But as railroads and trucks displaced ships as the most important forms of transportation, islanders found themselves physically cut off from much of the modern world.

Over the past century, most of Maine’s offshore islands have been abandoned. Greater opportunities lured many islanders away, and those that remain face higher prices for just about everything. In recent years, however, technologies such as the internet and wind turbines have opened up new economic possibilities. Modern technology may have robbed the islands of their lifeblood a century ago, but it may yet lure a new generation of digital nomads seeking out the slow, easygoing rhythms that have largely disappeared on the mainland.

Acadia National Park: The Complete Guide

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of Acadia National Park

The bestselling Acadia guidebook for over two decades.