Maine: A Collection of Archipelagos

Maine is an archipelago of 3168 coastal islands, listed in the Maine Coastal Island Registry which is maintained by the Maine Dept. of Conservation: 1,642 islands registered to private owners, 201 islands that are exempt from registering (islands that contain 4 or more structures), and 1,325 islands under the State of Maine’s care and custody. How many have you visited? These include fresh water and salt water, public and private islands. The largest island is Mount Desert Island with an area of 108 square miles. MDI is comprised of four towns: Bar Harbor, Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor and Tremont along with many small villages.

Many islands can been seen from the shore or reached by ferry/boat. You can also catch the breathtaking birds-eye island views from the top of Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park (magical at sunrise), Mt. Battie in Camden (spectacular in the Fall) or atop Point Lookout in Northport (WoW factor)!

In the south, the Isles of Shoals splits its islands with New Hampshire. Appledore, Smuttynose and Cedar Islands are in Maine while Star Island and White island are in NH.

Appledore Island, 6 nautical miles offshore, is maintained by Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML)and serves as a remote marine science field station from May-September. Undergraduate college courses and courses for high school students are offered in addition to research opportunities for student interns and members of a broader scientific community. Two to three week Artists-in-Residency programs are also offered from May – August to get away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland. Would you love that?

Ceila Thaxter’s garden is a main attraction of Appledore Island. The Poet’s garden provided flowers for her father’s hotel in the 1800’s.  Heirloom seeds are cultivated at the University of New Hampshire to keep the gardens authentic to their time.The garden still sits where it was during Celia’s lifetime and the raised beds and flowers follow the plan laid out in her acclaimed book, An Island Garden. Some of Celia’s original plants are still in the garden: the snowdrops, the hops vine, and day lilies. Red poppies are planted each year to echo the famous  paintings of impressionist Childe Hassam. You can take a walk back in time and travel to Appledore aboard the research vessel, Gulf Challenger Ceila’s Gardenfrom  UNH’s Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex adjacent to the U.S. Coast Guard Station in New Castle, NH. The $100 tour ticket includes the round trip boat ride, guided tour of and Appledore island and a catered lunch.

“… everyone knew that all islands were worlds unto themselves, that to come to an island was to come to another world.” 
― Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana


Which is your favorite Maine island?