The Best Maine Islands to Visit this Summer

There are approximately 4,600 isles off the coast of Maine, and an innumerable number dotting our nearly 6,000 lakes, so where to begin? To start, try these six.

As Mainers are fond of reminding visitors, our proud little state technically has 3,478 miles of coastline—more than California, when you count all the tidal inlets, coves, bays, and of course, the islands. By a rough estimate, there are approximately 4,600 isles off the coast of Maine—some inhabited with year-round and summer residents, some home only to sea birds and the occasional seal—not to mention the innumerable islands dotting the nearly 6,000 lakes between the New Hampshire and Canadian borders. Ready to shove off from the mainland? Hop on a ferry to visit one of these Maine islands for a proper summer adventure:

Photo: Peter Frank Edwards


Located about 12 miles off the coast of Rockland, the larger of the two Fox Islands is accessed by a 75-minute ferry ride that deposits visitors right near downtown. Marked by numerous coves, beaches, and two former granite quarries that are now swimming holes, there are plenty of opportunities to cool off. Check out the various parks, preserves, and hiking trails to get a sense of the land and to catch impressive ocean views, or stay in town to grab a bite and enjoy a slice of the local culture.

Photo: Peter Frank Edwards


Attached to the mainland by a narrow peninsula, Mount Kineo is only accessible via boat. Hitch a ride on the Kineo shuttle, which takes you from the docks of the Rockwood Public Landing directly to the trailhead of Mount Kineo State Park. Marked by 700-foot cliffs that look out across Maine’s largest lake, the mountain has roughly 6 miles of hiking trails ranging from .9 to 2.2 miles to get to the summit.


If you’re not ready to take to the seas, consider starting off with a trip to Bailey Island. Accessible via bridge from Harpswell, Bailey is an easy summer day trip in the midcoast region. Travelling all the way to Lands End, the rocky beach at the very tip of the isle, pays off with sweeping views of Casco Bay. Other highlights include the Giant’s Stairs trail, a half-mile walk featuring a rock formation that resembles a large staircase, and Mackerel Cove, which offers plenty of opportunities to take photos of the picturesque working waterfront.

Photo: Matt Cosby


To get to Monhegan, take your pick of three different ferries, from Boothbay Harbor, Port Clyde, or New Harbor. Located 10 miles off the coast, this little island measures barely 1 square mile. Make the island your home for the weekend with a reservation at one of the inns, hike along the beautiful seaside trails, pay a visit to the lighthouse and the Monhegan Museum of Art and History (the former lighthouse keeper’s lodging), and try to catch a glimpse of members of the Monhegan Artists’ Residency at work along the shore.

Photo: Jeff Roberts


The most populated island in Casco Bay, Peaks is a popular day trip destination from Portland, especially for those in the mood to bike. Either bring your own or rent one from Brad’s Bike Rental and Repair, just a short walk from the ferry dock. Pedal the 3.7-mile island loop, stopping at Sandy Beach for a dip in the ocean or Cairn Beach, where you can build rock towers and catch a glimpse of a lighthouse or two.

Photo: Daniel Orr


A short ferry ride from Raymond Neck on Sebago Lake, Frye Island is a must-visit for summertime lake enthusiasts. Watch the boats go by while you dine at the waterfront Frye’s Leap Cafe, stop by the market for essentials or the ice cream window for sweet summer treats, and play a round of golf at the 9-hole course of Frye Island Golf Club. Be sure to take advantage of the island’s many beaches.

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