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MOUNT DESERT ISLAND VILLAGES


While most regular viewers of this site are familiar with Mount Desert Island, we realize that there will be new visitors every day who find us through search engines, and who will want to learn more about this special place. This page is intended to provide those folks a brief bit of background.


The second largest island in the eastern United States, Mount Desert lies just off the coast of downeast Maine. It encompases more than 66,000 acres; about half of which comprise the largest portion of Acadia National Park. Formed by massive geological forces tens of thousands of years ago, the island today boasts the highest mountains anywhere along the east coast of North America, dramatic granite shores standing firm against pounding ocean waves, wonderfully scenic salt water harbours and numerous fresh water lakes. Since the late 1800's Mount Desert has been a playground for tourists and seasonal residents during the cool summer months, but it also is home to more than 10,000 year-round residents who live and work in several small New England towns and villages across the island. While not a comprehensive list, following is a description of some of the major island communities.


BAR HARBOR

It's best known village, Bar Harbor is the tourist center of Mount Desert Island. During the late 19th and early 20th century Bar Harbor was a popular summer destination for wealthy industrialists and for artists seeking to paint the dramatic landscape. Travel to the island at that time was largely by coastal ferry steamers from the major east coast cities to the south. In 1947 Bar Harbor suffered a devastating forest fire that destroyed many of the large summer estates or "cottages". That catastrophic event, coupled with the advent of the income tax several years earlier, brought the grand Bar Harbor "cottage era" to an end.

Today, Bar Harbor; with its many hotels, motels, B&B's, restaurants and shops; plays host to the millions of visitors to Acadia National Park each year.

Bar Harbor
SW Harbor
SOUTHWEST HARBOR

Southwest Harbor is a year-round community on the "quiet side" of Mount Desert Island. It is known for its lobster fishing fleet and for the many commercial and recreational boat builders who have established world-wide reputations here for quality and craftsmanship. Southwest Harbor also is home to a major U.S. Coast Guard base charged with securing and protecting the downeast Maine coast.


NORTHEAST HARBOR

Headquarters for the summer social scene on Mount Desert Island, Northeast Harbor boasts many beautiful and elaborate shorefront estates that are occupied primarily during the months of July and August. It also is a major yachting center where one often can see visiting boats from around the world.

NE Harbor
Bass Harbor
BASS HARBOR

Bass Harbor, nestled on the southwestern corner of Mount Desert Island, is a quintessential Maine lobster fishing village that has changed very little over the years. It is one of the relatively few remaining places along the Maine coast where one can see "life as it used to be". Bass Harbor also is where residents and visitors can take the state ferry to Swan's Island and to Frenchboro.


SEAL HARBOR

A quiet village of stately, "shingle-style" summer "cottages" tucked in among the trees along a rocky shore, Seal Harbor lies on the southeastern corner of Mount Desert Island. Much like Northeast Harbor, there are many summer social events, garden tours, and sailing regattas in Seal Harbor to entertain the seasonal residents in a low-key but elegant style.

Seal Harbor
Somesville
SOMESVILLE

At the center of Mount Desert Island is its oldest village - Somesville. Founded in 1761 by exploring settlers who sailed up Somes Sound in small boats, Somesville today is a neat and tidy community of classic white clapboard New England colonial homes lining a narrow, heavily traveled main street. The graceful arched bridge near the Historical Society Museum is one of the most photographed spots on all of MDI.