Visitors looking for an island hike often head to Monhegan, which offers stunning seaside trails but hosts an exposed anchorage that can be rolly on even the calmest night. Isle au Haut (NOAA Chart No. 13313)
, on the opposite side of Penobscot Bay, offers a far more secure harbor and eighteen miles of equally spectacular strolling, not to mention situating cruisers at a point where they can strike eastward to Mount Desert Island or else head north up the bay to Stonington and Castine. Half of this "high island" is owned by Acadia National Park (www.nps.gov/
acad/index.htm), and the wooded trails include bold ocean cliffs, marshes, bogs, and even a mile-long freshwater lake. Just because the island is in the park, though, doesn't mean it has the same wide, manicured paths that characterize most of Acadia, so you should wear sturdy boots and expect to find some wet sections of trail.
Len Bobinchock, the deputy superintendent of Acadia, says that while visitors to Isle au Haut are expected to pay the same entrance fee as other park users, the island attitude is a bit more laid-back than on MDI. "There isn't actually any place to pay a fee on Isle au Haut - it's more of an honor system," Bobinchock admits. However, because the park is entrusted with keeping the island a remote experience, it also restricts the number of people who can be on Isle au Haut at any one time to ninety day-use visitors and thirty overnight campers. There are a handful of anchorages to choose from on Isle au Haut, but Isle au Haut Thorofare is the most suitable for an overnight stay (Duck Harbor, Moores Harbor, and Head Harbor can be perilous, depending on the conditions, because of shoals and the coves' exposure).