Monhegan Island Maine
Monhegan Island Maine Photos
Monhegan is a small island as well as a well-known artist haven that is located 10 miles off the Maine coast.
Monhegan Island - a small, scenic island ten miles from the nearest mainland and scarcely a square mile in area
Monhegan Island is a very small (barely a square mile in area) and rocky island that is located about 10 miles off the coast of Maine. You can only get there by boat and no vehicles are allowed on the island because there are no roads. The island economy is largely based upon fishing and lobstering much like was in 1614 when John Smith visited and discovered that Native Americans used it for its bounty from the sea.
It has been a summer getaway haven for artists and nature lovers who like a bit of isolation and a rustic natural setting. It is known for its quiet and relaxed atmosphere where no one ever seems to be in a hurry. The island features more than enough things to occupy your time, but plan your visit wisely because the terrain is fairly rocky and the Island itself is very hilly. This means that it will take you longer to cover distances that it normally would when you walk on flatter ground.
A majority of Monhegan Island has been left untouched. A major part of the island is designated as a wildlife sanctuary with more than 500 varieties of wildflowers and 200 species of birds. Monhegan has roughly 17 miles of nature trails that crisscross the island. This makes it a great place for hikers to enjoy their time. However, it is important to keep in mind that the terrain can become rather strenuous to traverse in areas that are extremely rocky and that have steep inclines.
You can hike up a number of slopes to get a view of the ocean from some of the highest cliffs of any island on the Maine coast. Many of Mohegan's cliffs soar 130+ feet or more above the ocean and provide stunning panoramic views of the Maine coastline. The island also has a number of scenic and quiet beaches so that you can swim in the brisk waters of the Atlantic Ocean or just lay on the sand. You can also explore the beautiful dense island woodlands. The entire island is protected by the Monhegan Associates, which was formed to preserve and protect the wild lands of the island and the community's simple and friendly way of life.
The village of Monhegan has approximately 80 year-round residents but the number swells to more than ten times that during the summer months. There are a number of unique attractions for visitors to the island. A popular sightseeing attraction is the lighthouse that was built in 1824. It still shines brightly into the night, but has not been manned since 1959. You may not be able to go up to the top of the lighthouse, but you will get a panoramic view of the village, the harbor, neighboring Manana Island, and the mainland, especially Camden Hills. There is also the Monhegan Historical & Cultural Museum located in the former keeper's house. The first floor is dedicated to the rich history of the island whereas the second floor covers all of the flora and fauna that you may see on the island.
Many natural attractions can be found on Monhegan Island. One of them is Cathedral Woods, named because of the way the branches of the trees are arched like that in a cathedral. The place has a very serene and peaceful atmosphere - like one would typically find in a church. Rare flowers and plants are abundant in Cathedral Woods, as well. At the southern part of the island, you can visit Lobster Cove. It is a very good place for picnics and bird watching. Swimming in the water is discouraged here, however, as it is very dangerous and unpredictable because of the large waves and rip currents.
Monhegan Island is the most famous of Maine’s island communities, thanks in large part to its setting for and inspiration of important works of American art over the years. The Art Colony on Monhegan Island started around the late 19th century when celebrated artists like Rockwell Kent, Robert Henri, A. J. Hammond, and Edward Hopper found much inspiration in the island’s overall unspoiled natural beauty and peaceful settings. Kent and Hopper painted their own versions of the cliffs of Monhegan. News spread and tourists started to come to the island as well. Monhegan is still known for its active art community today with many art exhibits, art studios and galleries open to the public during the summer months.
Visitors to Mohegan are encouraged to bring warm clothes as the nights on Monhegan Island can be cool. Since you are more likely to traverse rocky trails, shoes that have adequate ankle support are recommended. Flashlights are quite handy especially for nighttime outings. Most of the restaurants allow informal and casual outfits, but you will not find alcoholic beverages in these establishments. However, the local store has supplies for groceries, wine, and beer, so you are not at a loss if you want to relax a bit on the island.
Photos by Bennett Landsman. We would like to thank Bennett Landsman for granting us permission to use his images of Monhegan. You can view more images of Monhegan and Maine by visitng Bennett's Flickr page.