Summer getaways on the East Coast can mean endless lines, beaches that are blanketed in umbrellas, towels and families; and bumper-to-bumper traffic. However, if you’re looking to escape the busyness of summer on the East Coast; consider a trip to the small island of North Haven Maine. 

Just an hour ferry boat ride from Rockland, Maine, in the Penobscot Bay, lies the tiny hidden island of North Haven. It has been a summer vacation spot for families who have been coming to this magical place for centuries. It is home to famous novelist, Susan Minot, various members of the Bush family, and several well-known artists who travel here for inspiration and to experience the island’s simplicity of life. 

The picturesque island is home to local restaurants and breweries, the community center; the famous art gallery of Eric Hopkins; a family-owned boatyard dating back to 1888, along with various farms and lodges where tourists can stay. It is the perfect quiet vacation spot with a touch of adventure. 

Purple Hills and Cumulus Clouds, Copyright Erich Hopkins

Purple Hills and Cumulus Clouds, Copyright Erich Hopkins

Eat 

Calderwood Hall

Located in the heart of the village, in a building that was constructed in 1908, Calderwood Hall is a restaurant, bar, market and bakery. The informal family-style restaurant can seat up to 80 people. 

Each morning, freshly baked pastries, egg sandwiches and coffee are served. You can find locals and visitors gathering here to catch up, play games, read or just relax in a welcoming space. 

Calderwood Hall

In the corner of Calderwood Hall is a small farm market that sells staple items, along with locally grown vegetables, fruit, fresh bread and, of course, wild Maine blueberries, that are hand picked around the island.

At 5 p.m., Calderwood Hall reopens to serve homemade appetizers, pizza, salads and desserts made with ingredients sourced from local farms. In the same building, just under the steps, is North Haven Brewing Co. A locally owned company that brews their own island beer.

If you want to experience the islands sense of community, this is the place to do so.

Nebo Lodge

One of the two inns on the island–Nebo Lodge–is also a restaurant that has been nationally recognized by The New York Times, Food & Wine, Down East and Travel + Leisure

All the produce that Nebo Lodge serves is sourced from Turner Farm, located on the other side of the island. Nebo Lodge has a varied menu of island grown meat, fish and produce, including locally raised lamb and beef; freshly caught lobsters; crab and oysters; and of course an assortment of seasonal fruits and vegetables. 

The constantly changing menu attracts customers to return often, to enjoy the elegant and fresh cuisine. 

Play

Exploring

If you’re looking to explore and be active, there is much to do on the three mile-wide Penobscot Bay Island. 

Bike the entirety of the island, which is only 30 miles of road, and experience the beauty of rolling hills, the salty ocean, beaches, and the never-ending fields of flowers and farm land. Rentals are available at Nebo Lodge.

Ames Knob

Hike to the top of Ames Knob, which is the highest point on the island. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Penobscot Bay and the rolling Camden Hills.

Kayak the shore of the island and be sure to park your kayak at Mill River, where you can explore the rocks and seaweed that house fish, crabs and lobster.

Explore the beaches of Mullens Head Park, and search for rocks and shells along the way.

And if you’re brave enough to take a dip in the 50-degree water, you will certainly be refreshed on a hot summer day! 

Shopping 

Nationally acclaimed artist Eric Hopkins has his own gallery, known as Hopkins Wharf Gallery, right in the town center. Throughout the summer, changing collections of paintings, sculptures, prints, ceramics, furniture, jewelry and antiques are exhibited.

Be sure to check out his work along with that of several other local artists that pop up throughout the summer months. 

Attached to the gallery is a classic Maine gift shop. The North Haven Gift Shop has been run by the Hopkins family since the early 1900s, and you can find items such as North Haven t-shirts and apparel, books, jewelry, candles, soap, pine pillows as well as the tasty maple syrup, that Maine is known for. 

Just up the street is a small print shop: Fox Island Print works. This unique shop sells high quality and well-designed products such as shirts, pillows, art, hats and much more! All inspired by the community of North Haven. 

Stay

Nebo Lodge

This charming historic island inn is the perfect place to spend the night. The Nebo Lodge has nine bedrooms, three cozy decks that overlook parts of the Penobscot Bay, a relaxing living room, as well as a popping bar and restaurant. 

Nebo Lodge has become the heart of the town, especially during the summer months. Whenever I visit the inn, I am reminded of the sense of community that North Haven is all about: a place of simplicity, connection, beauty and adventure. 

Turner Farm 

The organic Turner Farm that sources Nebo’s restaurant offers three different places for tourists to stay. Two options are for one-bedroom accommodations and another option for a small cottage that has three bedrooms, all overlooking the Fox Islands Thoroughfare. The eco-friendly environment at Turner Farm is a great place to enjoy life in its simplest form. 

End each of your days on North Haven gazing out on the hundreds of pine trees that cut the melting sun, setting over the choppy ocean.

I’ve spent many summers on this island and as I return each year, I am reminded of the pocket of stillness this community offers. It is hard to find a place in this world that has not evolved into the fast-paced society in which we now live. Happily, North Haven, Maine, remains a destination of simplicity, community and connection. 

If you are looking for a summer spot that is not blanketed in lines, crowds, and traffic; take a trip to the island of North Haven Maine to experience its simple way of life.