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Island Hopper: Islands in Maine and New Hampshire

When we think of islands in New England, big names like Nantucket, Block Island, and Martha's Vineyard come to mind right away. Just off the beaten path, though, lie some smaller island getaways that can be better suited for outdoor adventure, secluded relaxation, and a back-to-nature experience. Among some 200 islands in Maine and New Hampshire, we know of four with hotels and resorts right on-island.

credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Birch Island, Maine

Escape the heat of the summer months and visit Birch Island, a picturesque nature retreat in the middle of 2,745-acre Attean Pond (pond is a massive understatement). This untouched body of water has 42 small islands with sandy beaches for boaters to explore, and plenty of great spots to cast a fishing line. For the adventurer there are over 20 miles of wooded trails to hike, and if you look closely, you may find berry patches for a mid trip snack. Birch Island is home to Attean Lake Lodge. The lodge is still operated by the same family that founded it in the 1880s. Comfortable modern amenities and renovations have been added along the way, but one thing you won't find in the guest cottages is electricity. Guests here prefer reading by lamplight. With such spectacular sunsets, sunrises, and untainted stargazing, we understand why.

Mt. Desert Island, Maine

As the largest island off the coast of Maine and the sixth largest in the lower 48 United States, Mt. Desert Island in Maine offers no shortage of things to do. Home to the world renowned Acadia National Park, this is a hiker's paradise. The resort town of Bar Harbor is also here. For a sweet treat visit Mt. Desert Ice Cream — it's some of the best around. To learn more about the unique landscape of Mt. Desert visit Mount Desert Oceanarium, where you can walk the marsh trails, have a picnic, and visit the famous lobster hatchery. Since there is so much to do on the island, staying the night is a great choice. Check out these Bar Harbor inns and resorts.

Sunset view of the Chebeague Island Inn
Photo: Chebeague Island Inn

Chebeague Island, Maine

Chebeague Island is located right off of the coast of Portland, ME, and is part of the Calendar Islands, a set of small islands in Maine along the coast. Perfect for a sunny day picnic, all beaches are state owned and open to the public. If you’re lucky, you may even spot seals playing off shore. On the island you can find the Chebeague Schoolhouse — built in 1871, this piece of  history now serves as a museum. The island is easily accessible by ferry and its close proximity to Portland, ME, allows for day trips to the city to explore the shopping, dining and culture, the city offers. Chebeague Island’s location is ideal for a peaceful weekend getaway or a weeklong Maine adventure. Nestled right on the island you'll find Chebeague Island Inn, a beautifully restored 1920s inn offering a home away from home with its classic charm and renowned hospitality.


Star Island, New Hampshire

Six miles off the coast of Portsmouth, NH, lies Star Island, one of the nine Isles of Shoals. This 43-acre island was once home to a 1600s fishing village whose presence can be seen today throughout the historic buildings scattered throughout the property. Star Island welcomes day trippers and boaters to visit and tour the island for the day. The Isles of Shoals Steamship Company offers daily tours of the island, as well as a ferry service to and from the mainland. The rocky shores of the island are home to hidden worlds of tidal pools and caves waiting to be explored. A visit to Star Island, is the perfect time to see why so many people come to Portsmouth, NH, every year. Stay in one of these unique Portsmouth hotels for easy walking access to the downtown hub of eclectic shops and restaurants.

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