Vinalhaven Island might be the best kept secret on the Maine coast. A working island in Penobscot Bay, Vinalhaven is only a 12 mile ferry ride from Rockland Maine. Vinalhaven is just a short cruise away aboard the Maine State Ferries, Captain Charles Philbrook or the Governor Curtis; the ferry ride takes about an hour and 15 minutes.
Vinalhaven has recently attracted some attention, and some visitors, with its new wind power project, one of the first of its kind on the entire east coast. There are three 1.5 MW windmills on the island, which are usually able to power the entire island.
Vinalhaven is also home to three of Maine’s lighthouses: Brown’s Head Light, Saddleback Ledge Light, and Heron Neck Light. (None of these lighthouses are open to the public, but all can be easily viewed by boat!)
And if you are not into lighthouse gazing, there’s plenty else to do: biking, hiking, fishing, picnicking, beach-combing, kayaking, bird-watching, painting, drawing, and photographing. The options are truly endless. Many visitors just spend their hours gazing at the ocean while breathing the fresh sea air!
To satiate the history buff in your group, be sure to stop in at the Historical Society and Museum. This reservoir of culture includes artifacts from the island’s schools, farms, and industries.
Vinalhaven is a bird-watcher’s delight. The low tide mud flats attract herons, terns, ospreys, bald eagles, ducks, and kingfishers.
Just a short walk from downtown, explorers will find Lane’s Island, a 45-acre preserve, which is connected to the main island via a causeway. The preserve offers amazing views of the bay, bluffs, and moors.
And the kids are just bugging you to go swimming, right? There are three freshwater swimming holes on the island, all located in former granite quarries. The water is warm and the scenery is breathtaking. (Just be careful – there are no lifeguards on duty.)
And of course, don’t forget to have a lobster. Vinalhaven is home to the largest lobster fleet in Maine. Over 100 lobster boats fish in the local waters. You can buy fresh lobster from the dock of the Lobster Co-op, or dine at The Haven Restaurant. (Reservations recommended.)
And when it is time to get some sleep, check in at the family-friendly Tidewater Motel, which, as you might guess, is located right on the water. The Motel is built on a bridge, so you can listen to the tide rolling in and out as you drift off to sleep. Tidewater Motel offers their guests bicycles to use during the duration of their stay on the island, free of charge. They also offer canoe and kayak rentals. Not sure where to put in? The knowledgable staff will deliver you to a suitable inland waterway. The Tidewater Motel offers affordable, comfortable lodging year round.
Does the scenery look familiar? Vinalhaven was the setting of the 2009 movie The Islander. Who knows? You may decide to hang around long enough to land a part in the next movie.