A Perfect Weekend on Monhegan

Hike 12 miles of island trails, visit the island’s many studios and art galleries, view a 75-year-old shipwreck, and more.

Dories lined up at Fish Beach on Monhegan Island
Dories lined up at Fish Beach. Photo by Dave Waddell
By Will Grunewald
From our June 2023 Island Issue

Get There

During peak season, island visitors have their pick of passenger ferries out of three different mainland harbors. Round-trip tickets range from $42 to $50 and all are best to book in advance. From Port Clyde, Monhegan Boat Line offers the most flexibility, making two or three trips per day (880 Port Clyde Rd.; 207-372-8848). Hardy Boat Cruises, out of New Harbor, does the trip twice a day (129 State Rte. 32; 207-677-2026). Balmy Days Cruises departs from Boothbay Harbor in the morning and returns in the evening — and does a quick, scenic circumnavigation of Monhegan in between (42 Commercial St.; 207-633-2284).

Explore

Even at a leisurely pace, Monhegan is easy to see in half a day. It’s only about a mile from the north end of town, where the Monhegan Museum of Art and History (1 Lighthouse Hill; 207-596-7003) has built its excellent collection on the island’s long history as an art colony, to the southern tip of the island, where the rusting hull of the D.T. Sheridan shipwreck rests on the rocks. In between, art aficionados should slow down to visit the many open studios and to check out Lupine Gallery, showing contemporary Monhegan artists for almost 40 years (48 Main St.; 207-594-8131). Stop in the quaint Monhegan Community Church, where all are welcome and the piano is available to anyone who wants to sit and tickle the ivories. Outdoorsy types won’t want to miss the rugged back side of the island, with 12 miles of trails that ramble along headland cliffs.

Eat & Drink

Grab a coffee and a scone at Black Duck Emporium, a gift shop and café in the former general store (5 Oceanside Dr.). For a casual, counter-service lunch, enjoy fresh local catch at Monhegan Fish House (1 Fish Beach Ln.). All island restaurants are BYOB. Fortunately, Monhegan Brewing Company is on hand for fresh drafts and carry-out cans (1 Boody Ln.; 207-596-0011). If staying the night, reserve a table in the stately old dining room at the Island Inn and linger over mussels Provencal or scallops with sweet corn puree, pancetta, and black-garlic vinaigrette (1 Ocean Ave.; 207-596-0371).

Dusk falls on the Island Inn
Dusk falls on the Island Inn. Photo by Mark Fleming

Sleep

After a dinner at the Island Inn, sit awhile in a rocker on the porch, then stroll upstairs to one of the elegantly appointed rooms — worth splurging for a water view. The inn dates all the way back to 1816 and, after multiple expansions, achieved its current design in 1910. For history, the Trailing Yew is no slouch either, renting out rooms since 1926 (8 Lobster Cove Rd.; 207-596-0440). Its price point is a bit lower, and its target audience has usually skewed more bohemian. Note: camping isn’t allowed on Monhegan, so have a room reserved before getting on a boat. 

Discover more weekend getaways in Maine.

May 2024, Down East Magazine

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