Three Weeks Downeast / by Shane Henderson

We are cleaning and packing today, wrapping up three wonderful weeks in Maine with family.  I have visited Maine for at least a week or two most summers since I was born, but in recent years with work/school it’s been tougher to make it up. Having three whole weeks here was a luxury, it gave us plenty of time to visit new places and try new things. Since we arrived at the beginning of August, we have visited a bunch of different islands, gone on 15+ hikes, and devoured all of the lobster, blueberry muffins, and ice cream that we could find. Here are recaps of a few highlights from the past few weeks…

swans island light

Isle Au Haut
A family favourite, this island is a remote outpost of Acadia National Park and has some incredibly beautiful hikes. We usually boat over and anchor in Duck Harbor, a small cove with a campground and easy access to the island’s best trails. The Duck Harbor Mt Trail and Cliff Trail are our favourites. They are relatively short but strenuous hikes and the mountain lookout offers incredible views of the island. From Duck Harbor, you can also walk into the small town of Isle Au Haut, which has a small shop and general store, as well as a great food truck called Maine Lobster Lady. The lobster rolls are obviously what she is known for, although the chicken salad sammies are pretty killer too.

Another summer standby for us is the nearby Long Island, more commonly referred to as Frenchboro. The island has a small but very picturesque harbour, with a little white church, one-room schoolhouse, and museum/library. Lunts Dockside Deli is the best, and only, food option around. Classic seafood and grill fare. The homemade peanut butter cups are pretty great. Frenchboro has some really great hiking trails that crisscross the backside of the island. They are well-maintained and don’t get much traffic, so they are perfect for a quiet afternoon.

We spent two nights staying over on Monhegan, an island we had visited once before and loved. It's relatively far for us to go by boat, but it is definitely worth it! We will be posting a full guide to Monhegan next week, so check back here for that.

Marshall Island
Marshall is one of the largest undeveloped islands on the east coast. There is no ferry to get there, and even with a boat it can be tricky as there are no docks or moorings. But once you are there, you can enjoy free camping, miles of trails, and one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in all of Maine. At low tide, Fine Sand is a huge sandy stretch of beach perfect for picnics and whiffle ball games.  The water is cold but crystal clear and if you wade in the shallows you can always find sand dollars. The only flip side is that at high tide, the beach virtually disappears, so be careful leaving your stuff there and heading off on a hike.

fine sand beach

This visit was a first for us! Belfast is a little coastal town on the mainland along Route 1. We stopped there for a few hours to explore and have lunch. The main street slopes down to the harbour and is lined on both sides by old brick buildings full of cute shops and restaurants. We had lunch at Laan-Xang Café, a Laotian restaurant, which was a treat for us since we almost never eat Asian cuisine in Maine! Exploring the town, both Anna and I found shops that we loved - a cheese shop for her and a board game shop for me. There was also a vintage two-screen movie theatre that was for sale. We were tempted to buy it, cancel our trip, and settle down in Belfast… until we thought about the long Maine winters! Brrr.

Schoodic Peninsula
Another first time visit for us, we rented bikes and cruised around Schoodic Point for the day. Schoodic is also part of Acadia National Park, although it is farther north than Mt. Desert so it doesn’t get the same crowds. It was gorgeous though. We had a perfect sunny day to stop at the many cliffs and beaches along the coast road. Out on Schoodic Point the ocean rollers break onto the rocks, splashing high up into the air. It was funny to see that a lot of people camp out there for the day, with beach chairs and coolers just to watch the waves break on the shore. Can’t blame them though, it was pretty mesmerizing. Can’t imagine what it would be like on a stormy day with high seas! Towards the end of our bike ride, we stopped at a restaurant called The Pickled Wrinkle. The food was delicious, but our very full stomachs made the last leg of the bike ride a little tough!

schoodic point

We are sad to be leaving Maine, one of our favourite places in the world, but of course we are excited to be continuing our adventures. Next, we will be heading to Jackson Hole, WY with some friends to watch the eclipse and hike the Tetons!

Until next time,
- Shane & Anna