Island of the Sea: Monhegan Island, Maine
If you're not in the mood to hike, there are a few other options on the island.
Built in 1824, this still-working beacon stands sentinel on a bluff overlooking the village and harbor. The former lighthouse-keeper's house is now the Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum. The views are lovely and the lawn often dotted with artists and photographers hard at work.
Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum
Open from July through September, the Museum holds exhibits dedicated to the history, natural and otherwise, of the island. The rebuilt assistant lightkeeper's house across the lawn now holds a gallery dedicated each year to one significant Monhegan artist.
The tablet, affixed to a rock outside the clean, white schoolhouse, commemorates John Smith's visit to Monhegan in 1614. The school houses a tiny cast of students and one teacher (teachers change every two years); children attend until they reach high-school age, when they must travel to the mainland to continue their education. The schoolhouse doubles as a community center and often hosts concerts and other events.
The resident Monhegan artists show their works to the public during studio open houses; the times for each artist vary, and pamphlets detailing the hours and locations are widely available.
Hardy Boats Cruises takes passengers on a two-hour jaunt to Easter Egg Island, where a colony of Atlantic Puffins has been founded and carefully fostered by the Audubon Society. Guillemots and terns are also plentiful.
There are a few stores catering to the tourists and artists. The Lupine Gallery sells artists' supplies, original art, and reproductions, and also does custom matting and framing. The Black Duck Emporium has seaglass jewelry, pottery, film, postcards, t-shirts, art supplies, books, and Monhegan souvenirs. The Winter Works sells crafts made by island residents in the winter months.
This cozy wooden shrine to books has limited hours of operation but is well worth a visit for island-related historical information and the sheer pleasure of browsing, reading, or writing in such a welcoming atmosphere. If you have children, there are plenty of kids' books and summertime story hours as well.
The hermit's shack is still in evidence, as are Coast Guard buildings from its days as a fog signal station, and of course there's those inscriptions to examine. Island children will ferry you across on their skiffsfor a price, of course.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication