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Five Hours on Swan’s Island

Swan’s Island – Mount Desert Island, Maine

Maine’s islands are full of splendor and beauty and we always make it a point to visit a few each summer. Swan’s Island is located off the coast of Downeast Maine south of Mount Desert Island. Just a 30 minute ferry ride from Bass Harbor, Swan’s Island makes for a perfect day trip.

Getting There

Because Swan’s Island is rather large, and many of the sights are about 4 miles roundtrip from the ferry terminal, I recommend taking your car or a bike to the island. Maine’s ferry system is fairly affordable which makes planning a trip feasible even if you are on a budget. Be sure to understand the reservation process for whichever island you are visiting as each ferry system is a little different. You can find more information about the Maine DOT ferry service here.

Having researched the highlights of Swans Island, we had a 5 hour window of time to explore the island over Memorial Day weekend. You can learn more about the points of interest here. With our car loaded with the essentials, we pulled off the ferry around 9:30, and headed straight to our first destination.

Burnt Coat Lighthouse & Hiking Trails

Maine lighthouses are always a treat. The history of these coastal beacons is never dull. The Burnt Coat Lighthouse offers two loop trails that take you to two small beaches and through the pines and meadows of this peninsula. The trails are about 2 miles in total and easy for beginners. As with any coastal community in Maine, be sure to stay on the trail and check for ticks after your hike.

Fine Sand Beach

Fine Sand Beach was the part of the trip that we were looking forward to the most. You can read more about our favorite Maine beaches here. Swans Island touts this as the jewel of the island and we completely agree. Located down a dirt road, the beach is about a .5 mile hike from the parking area. Bring a blanket and some snacks and enjoy the fine sand and jewel-toned water. We didn’t want to leave this spot.

Carrying Place

This narrow strip of land connects the two main portions of Swans Island and features views of Mount Desert Island to the north and features a sandy beach on the south side. We stopped here after Fine Sand Beach for our picnic lunch.

Minturn & Quarry

This village on the southern side of the island has excellent views of the larger islands to the south and west and has a granite quarry. The granite quarries of Maine’s coast and islands are interesting features. We also found a little antique shop where we picked up a few items to support the local economy and remember our trip.

Tim’s- The Island Market & Supply

Even though we had plenty of provisions, we stopped at Tim’s for a cold soda and some candy to do something to support the economy of the island and to get Dresden his sugar fix for the ride home.

Back to the Mainland

After our stop at Tim’s, it was about time to line up for the ferry. The Ferry ride is one of Dresden’s favorite parts of visiting islands, you get to let someone else do the driving and see the mainland and islands from a different perspective.

In just under 5 hours, we had explored the highlights of the island. We didn’t encounter many people, but the folks we did were friendly and welcoming. Exploring Maine’s islands and beaches is one of our favorite types of adventures, it does require some logistics, but what adventure doesn’t?! With over 3000 islands off the rugged coastline, we would need a boat or kayak to fully explore them all, but we’ll visit as many as we can in the years to come.

Happy Trails,


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Swan's Island, Mount Desert Island Maine