Each year, more than two million people pass through the borders of Acadia National Park, the 47,000-acre expanse that protects some of Maine's most scenic shorelines and bald granite summits. Some of these hikers and kayakers find a charming home base in Bar Harbor, the bustling resort town made famous by New England's vacationing elite. But others discover the Maine of their dreams on the peaceful streets of Southwest Harbor, a nearby seaside haven known as much for its sparkling beauty as its complete and utter tranquility. It's a place to rest and retreat into the "quietside" of Mount Desert Island - and you'll do it best at our beautiful Southwest Harbor vacation rentals.
First settled by Europeans in 1761 and incorporated as a town in 1905, Southwest Harbor is named for its position at the southwest entrance of Somes Sound - the body of water that cuts through the center of Mount Desert Island. With a population of just 1,800 people, Southwest Harbor is the largest town on the western quietside of Mount Desert Island, and one that sits only 20 miles south of Ellsworth on Route 102. You'll be directly across the sound from Northeast Harbor, 14 miles southwest of Bar Harbor, and 14 miles south of Acadia's Hulls Cove Visitor Center.
In its early years, Southwest Harbor was a community built upon fishing, lumber, agriculture, and trade. But since that time, the town has sustained itself as a yacht-building epicenter and an alluring summer respite for visitors to Acadia.
Your vacation begins on the quiet streets that trace the harbor, where you can peruse a lovely selection of shops, restaurants, and art galleries, or charter a boat to reach Sutton, Little Cranberry, and Great Cranberry Islands offshore. Spend your days kayaking, sailing, or visiting the Wendell Gilley Museum, a community institution that showcases and teaches the art of decorative bird carving.
Taste the incredible flavors of the ocean at Beal's Lobster Pier near the tip of Clark Point, or catch a glimpse of the Bear Island Lighthouse from the village of Manset to the south. Come sunset, there's no better view than the one from Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, a picturesque beacon that sits just four miles south.
Experience the rugged coast of Maine in its natural splendor - reserve your stay at one of our Southwest Harbor vacation rentals!
Photo Credit: Chris Potako via Flickr