My Maine Top 10 ~ #1 Monhegan Island

Series Introduction:  After years of giving recommendations to friends visiting my home state of Maine, I decided to spend a little time compiling my favorites here. My Top 10. Some places are directly on the beaten path, others are not. I try to include something for every traveller but if you’re going to Maine, expect a lot of the great outdoors. If you must shop, do it at local stores and support Maine’s eclectic entrepreneurs.

I love Maine and the people who live there. All of the places I’m listing in the Top 10 I would recommend to my friends and family. If you have additional recommendations, please leave a note in the comments. I’d love to share as much of this great state as possible. Cheers! ~ Hannele

#10: Moosehead Lake Region (previously blogged)

#9: The Southern Beaches: Kennebunk & Ogunquit (previously blogged)

#8: Baxter State Park (previously blogged)

# 7 Reid State Park (previously blogged)

# 6 Portland (previously blogged)

#5 The Mountains (previously blogged)

#4 The Mid-Coast Region (previously blogged)

#3 The Maine Lakes (previously blogged)

#2 Acadia National Park (previously blogged)

Holding the top spot, narrowly beating out Acadia and The Maine Lakes, is the magical Monhegan Island!

Sunset on Monhegan & Manana Islands


If you’re looking for a destination where you can truly get away from it all, Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine, is it. The island is about 10 miles off the mainland and has been a base for lobstering & fishing since the Native Americans used it as a seasonal fishing camp well before Captain John Smith took sail. In fact, there has been a petroglyph discovered on the adjacent island, Manana, along with artifacts which date the fishing camp back to 4,000 B.P..


Manana Island

Monhegan Harbor

Monhegan Harbor view


The only way to get to the island is by boat, either your own or one of 3 ferries leaving from the mainland. You will have to leave your car behind (yes!) and bring your hiking boots (double yes!). You can come for a day trip but I highly recommend spending a few nights so you have more time to explore.

Over the past 100 years, Monhegan Island has been a haven for artists, writers, and outdoor enthusiasts who come to take in the island’s natural beauty. Most of the island has not been developed and it boasts about 12miles of hiking trails that take you through balsam forests, over steep cliffs, and along the rocky coastline.



Along Trail #1 on the south-east side of the island


I would recommend circumnavigating the island on trail #1 on the Monhegan Trail Map on your first day. (Note: parts of this trail can be pretty challenging so make sure you are up for it!) The vistas on this trail are incredible and you’ll probably see harbor seals hanging out around the cliffs. Bring a lunch and water and plan to spend the day exploring the island. I also love the Cathedral Woods (trail #11) and Whitehead (trail #7) but you really can’t go wrong with any hike here.


Trail #1, near Whitehead

Cliffs along Trail #1

Cathedral Woods, Trail #11

Fairy Houses in Cathedral Woods


Even though the island is remote you don’t have to rough it. There are several very nice inns and restaurants to choose from. My recommendations are the Monhegan House for dinner (creative, delicious dishes &  they have accommodations) and the John Sterling House (a quaint Inn with awesome breakfast & wonderful innkeeper, Susan). You could also stay & eat at at the Island Inn which overlooks the working harbor.  There are also weekly rental houses all around town but you will have to book those early in the year if you want one for summer months. There are several shops and galleries worth visiting before you head home as well.


Gardens at the John Sterling House

Near Norton’s Ledges

Sunrise along the harbor

All and all, Monhegan Island is my favorite place to vacation in Maine. I find it to be a dreamy, natural oasis, a feast for the senses and the perfect place to recharge. Have you been to Monhegan and want to share your favorite spots? Please leave a comment below!

Disclaimer: The recommendations I give in this post are personal, I’m not receiving any kick back from mentioning them. 

I hope you have enjoyed the Maine Top 10 series as much as I have writing it! Taking the time to share my favorite places in Maine with all of you has been a labor of love…Thank you so much for supporting the series.


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