Ten miles from the shore of MidCoast Maine, this small, “out to sea” island is only two miles long but it completely captures the hearts of everyone who visits. With rocky cliffs and breathtaking views, Monhegan is very remote, the perfect artist’s escape for over a century. In the summer, you will find artists dappling the hills and cliffs, enjoying a day of plein air painting. An important artist colony for generations, with notables including the Wyeth Family, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, and George Bellows, today it still hosts numerous workshops and classes, and the artist colony thrives. The island is intentionally minimalistic – there is little to no internet, some lodging offers a distinct 1800s feel and unplugging is highly encouraged.
Birders flock here in spring and fall, following the migratory birds such as Sharp-shinned Hawks, American Kestrels, Merlins, and Peregrine Falcon winging southward along the Atlantic Flyway and the island is on the MidCoast Birding Trail.
Whether you come for birds, art, or simply peace and quiet, Monhegan’s atmosphere will enchant you. Seasonal excursion boats depart through mid-October from Boothbay Harbor and New Harbor, while the year-round mail boat departs from Port Clyde. There are no cars (or paved roads!) on Monhegan, so wear comfy shoes. You can spend a day exploring and catch a boat back to the mainland or book a longer stay. With just over 100 year-round residents, this tiny island comes to life in the summer.
Things to Do on Monhegan
Explore the whole island with a coastal hike along the Monhegan Island Cliff Trail which circles the island and offers endless dramatic views. Thomas Edison’s son, Theodore, formed the land trust, Monhegan Associates, which protects much of the island’s lands and maintains 9 miles of hiking trails to enjoy as well. It is easy to spend the day simply taking in the sights.
Admire the original artwork at the Lupine Gallery, open from mid-May to October, and the Monhegan Museum of Art & History, (open from June to September) which focuses on artworks of Monhegan Island, with a collection of more than 1300 pieces created by visiting artists for over 150 years and is housed in a lighthouse keeper’s house. There are many artist studios that welcome visitors during the summer, and you can find a flier listing the hours at galleries and on bulletin boards on the island.
Restaurants on Monhegan
Many accommodations provide breakfast (and sometimes dinner) for their guests, but you can start your day with breakfast at The Mooring Chain, offering locally roasted coffee, bagels, and pastries. Grab lunch from popular spots like The Novelty, The Barnacle or Monhegan Brewing.
Enjoy a lobster roll, fish tacos, fresh oysters and much more from the Fish House – and bring your own beer or wine to pair with it all.
The Island Inn serves dinner with plenty of fresh, local ingredients – reservations required. You can stock up on supplies at the General Store as well.
Places to Stay on Monhegan
Monhegan has a choice of inns, bed and breakfasts, and rental cottages available in the summer. The Island Inn – an impressive historic hotel – has 32 rooms and suites and a dining room. Open since 1870, the Monhegan House offers guest rooms on four floors and also includes breakfast and dinner. The Trailing Yew has accommodations, and artist and birding workshops in the summer and fall. Wherever you rest your head, you’ll enjoy your stay, with the waves crashing aga