Just 10 miles off the coast of Maine, tiny Monhegan Island offers a respite from the more congested parts of coastal Maine. The island is car-free, except for a handful of pick-up trucks owned by residents. At just 1.75 miles long and .75 miles wide, everything is walkable.
Monhegan is where fishing and art come together. Fewer than 100 year-round residents make their living hauling in lobsters and fisherman on this island. But in the summer, the island's population swells with artists and travelers who return year after year to capture Monhegan's mystique in paint, picture and words.
A foot ferry delivers passengers from Port Clyde, New Harbor and Boothbay Harbor on the mainland (the ride from Port Clyde is the shortest).
Most inns and rental houses are a five to ten minute walk from the ferry dock, but you can pay to have your luggage driven to your destination. You, of course, will go it on foot.
The village, coastline and forest are criss-crossed with 12 miles of walking trails. Golf carts are not available for rent. Bikes are discouraged.
Monhegan has two small beaches, one for swimming and one for fishing boats. The rest of the shoreline is rocky, windswept and not suitable for swimming. There are no police or emergency personnel on the island, so plan accordingly.
Many of the inns have their own restaurants. We stayed at the Trailing Yew, where our rate included a communal candlelit breakfast with fresh, homemade donuts. There are a handful of cafes that offer anything from a multi-course prix fixe meal to pizza and ice cream. The island has one small cantina for basic grocery needs.
The Mohegan Museum of Art and History is perched on a hill above the village and is home to an eclectic mix of maritime artifacts, modern art and natural history.
Outside the museum you can catch sweeping views of the harbor. The trail up the hill takes you through the island's historic cemetery.
Trail #1 circles the perimeter of the island so you can experience the sea spray roses and raspberries. At Christmas Cove you'll find old ship that washed ashore in 1948, a reminder of the perils of life at sea.
It's coastal Maine, so rain and cool weather can settle in, even in the summer. The tiny Mohegan Library offers a cozy refuge with a finely curated selection of adult and children's books, and frequent guest speakers.
Visitors can take home a piece of the island's artistic legacy from the Lupine Gallery.
Cathedral Woods, in the center of the island, is rumored to be the home of the original fairy houses that are now sprinkled throughout the world. In the early days, people would rip up clumps of moss from the forest and make elaborate creations. But, concerns about the resulting ecosystem destruction prompted The Island Association to launch a public education campaign. Now people bring their own materials.
One fairly new business is the Monhegan Island Brewery. I enjoyed a Black Head Russian Imperial Stout, while my children quaffed Maine Root root beer.
It's tradition to toss a handful of flowers into the sea as your ferry pulls away. If the flowers float back to Monhegan's shore, you're destined to return.