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The scenic and much-lauded Maine coastline would not be so scenic, and much less lauded, if it wasn’t dotted with so many beautiful islands. Some are big enough to live on, others just big enough to explore. But all of them hold their own unique charm. And, given that there are around 4,600 of them, that means more than enough to discover.

So, to help you get a taste for the vast diversity of island life here in Maine, we made a list of some of our favorite islands to visit. We are, after all, people that live and work here in Maine, and we have some strong opinions. 

Enough chat. Let’s get right to it: here are some of our favorite Maine islands to visit:

Mount Desert Island

Ready to have your mind blown? Locals pronounce this like you’d say “dessert,” as in, tasty sweet post-dinner treat. Yep, it’s spelled like the sandy thing but pronounced like the sweet thing. As for the island itself: boasting both Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, this largest island in Maine lives up to its reputation. Sloping, tree-covered hills. Beautiful rock-lined coast. Four towns to explore. Mount Desert Island is an east coast destination for many a reason.

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Peaks Island

Closer to us here in Portland, Maine, Peaks Island is just a quick ferry away. Speaking of ferry, you’re more than welcome to BYOB on the way over—one of our great joys is sipping on a cold Allagash White as we scoot through Casco Bay. The island itself features restaurants, beaches, a perfect biking loop, an abandoned military base, and the one-and-only Umbrella Cover Museum (don’t ask questions, just go).

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Exploring Battery Steele on Peaks Island

Exploring Battery Steele is one of the fun activities on Peaks Island.

Great Diamond Island

Get ready for some unadulterated Maine-iness on this little island. Hiking trails, picnic spots, historic homes, a tropical-themed bistro, and a five-star Hotel/restaurant all come together to give you basically the panorama of all you could want in Maine, in miniature. Another 20-ish minute ferry ride from Portland sort of deal. Very, very worth the trip.

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Jewell Island

If camping and hiking in a rustic spot are more your thing, and you have access to a boat of some sort, you’ve found your island. Jewell Island is uninhabited except for the seafaring hikers and campers that make their way out to it. About a half-hour of boating is required, but for the more adventurous out there, you’ll be rewarded with beach-front campsites, trails, and even a couple privies, so you don’t have to rough it all the way.

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Deer Isle

We’re Down East. Or is it up north? We’re out there. Though it’s a fair drive from southern Maine, this island is actually easily accessible by car: just drive over the Deer Isle Bridge. Considered by many as sort of a “lesser-known Bar Harbor” in the best possible way, this island is another gem. You have a local coffee roastery in 44 North, restaurants galore, and that quintessential coastline to linger beside. Think of this island as the perfect stop on your way to the eastern tip of Maine, or a substitute for Bar Harbor altogether.

PRO TIP:  The series of small islands just south of Stonington that comprise Merchant Row are potentially even more stunning, with their tiny pocket beaches, scenic hiking trails, and granite ledges sloping gently into the water.

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Isle Au Haut

Half Acadia, half privately owned, all of it stunning. With over 18 miles of hiking trails, featuring mountains, crags, coves, and crashing surf, this island features some of the most stunning natural views that Maine has to offer. Reachable by a passenger-only ferry (basically a mail boat) out of Stonington, this is the perfect island for a day trip. If you’re lucky enough to score a campsite in Duck Cove, you can make a night of it, but be sure to book far ahead, as this is a popular spot.

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From Maine, With Love

an Allagash Brewing Co. Podcast

This fun, informal, and informative podcast shows listeners what it’s like to work at an independent B Corp-certified brewery up here in Portland, Maine.

Great Wass Island

Not just an island, an island preserve. Because its tip pokes out farther into the Atlantic than any other island in Down East Maine, the flora and fauna are shaped by the particularly humid and cold weather that this island experiences. So if you’re a nature buff with an interest in seeing rare jack pines or full-bellied harbor seals, this is an excellent choice. With 4.5 miles of hiking trails, there’s plenty to see and experience.

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Mackworth Island

Probably the easiest island to reach on this list. Jutting out just north of Portland, in Falmouth, Maine, Mackworth is small but mighty. Reach it easily by the Andrews Avenue Causeway (though be aware, parking can be limited). The island itself is only 100 acres, and features an easy 1.5-mile walking trail with swinging benches offering scenic views.

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Monhegan Island

Want to go 12 nautical miles off the coast to visit an island that measures a scant 1 square mile? Monhegan it is. And what it lacks in size, it makes up for in tourist-friendly shops, a brewery(!), 9 miles of hiking trails, and some of the highest seaside cliffs in all of Maine. Three different ferry lines service the island, so while it is out there, it’s not that hard to reach.

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If you’re in the midcoast area visiting Rockland, Rockport, or Camden, Vinalhaven is a nearly necessary jaunt. This is the largest offshore island in Maine, and has quite a bit to do and see. You can explore their copious parks and preserves, take a swim in one of two quarries, go shopping, go dining, or just sit by the shore. This is a multi-day-worthy island for a trip.

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And while you’re on your way out, or on your way back, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that our tasting room is a wonderful stop along the way. We have a variety of delicious beer, wine, cider, and more—plus bites of all kinds from our friends at Bite Into Maine.

Grab Beers & Bites at the Allagash Tasting Room
Lobster rolls available in the Allagash tasting room from Bite Into Maine

Come Enjoy Some Fresh Beer House-Made Wine Dry Cider Awarded Lobster Rolls Good Vibes

If you're in Portland, treat yourself to a stop at our brewery tasting room

Plan Your Visit

Brett has been a part of the Allagash Marketing Team since 2016. He's a big fan of sharing the many stories Allagash has to offer through blogs, newsletters, as the host of their podcast, and in intermittent appearances on social media.