Island of the Sea: Monhegan Island, Maine


Monhegan Island lies 10 miles from the Mid-Coast of Maine. Despite its tiny size (about .7 of a mile wide and 1.7 miles long), 17 miles of trails crisscross and circumnavigate it. Less than 20% of the island is inhabited, with the rest left wild—be sure to practice Leave No Trace, and under no circumstances should smoking occur outside the village. There are no medical facilities on Monhegan, so take extra care on the trails, and do not go below the"black rocks" of the tide line—the tides and undertow are powerful and rescue is difficult if not impossible. For this reason, technical rock climbing is also not allowed. If you want to swim, the only safe place to do so is at Swim Beach in the village.

The island is extremely casual and there are no paved roads, so stick to practical clothes and shoes (even in the height of a sunny, warm summer the evenings can be windy and chilly). There are also no cars, with the exception of some trucks used by islanders. Walking is the only way to get around.

There is one ATM, in the Barnacle on the ferry dock. There are no banks. Bring cash or travellers checks, for most places do not accept credit cards and out-of-state checks are generally not honored.

Bicycles or strollers are not allowed on the trails, and camping is forbidden. If you bring your dog, leash it at all times, and clean up any waste as you would in a city.

Bring a flashlight (there are no street lights and the island can get extremely dark; electricity is a new arrival to Monhegan and many places still aren't on the grid), insect repellent, raingear, good hiking boots, and plenty of clothes for layering. Most accommodations have a selection of cards, dominoes, board games, and books to help you while away the quiet evenings and rainy days. Bookworms are in evidence everywhere.

Getting There
There are three ferry companies providing service to Monhegan. The most frequent option is the Monhegan Boat Line, leaving three times daily from Port Clyde in the high season. This is the only year-round ferry (actually, there are two ferries, the Elizabeth Ann and the elegant, older Laura B, a converted Army transport built in 1943); in winter they make the trip three times a week, weather permitting. Roundtrip fare is around $27 ($14 for kids); boxes of provisions and large items cost extra. Parking is available for around $4/day.

The Balmy Days II ferry leaves from Boothbay Harbor once a day and also offers half-hour cruises around Monhegan. Service is from May until October and the price is around $30 roundtrip. Parking is available for around $6/day.

Hardy Boat Cruises leave from New Harbor twice a day during high season and cost around $27 roundtrip (children are $15). A seal watch is included on the return trip. Parking is free.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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