Photo credit: K. Wiggins
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Downeast Maine is the northern coast of Maine and home to some of the state’s most visited attractions, such as Acadia National Park. Many guests only tend to see the park’s attractions on Mount Desert Island and also on the Schoodic Peninsula.
While exploring this majestic national park, the Schoodic Peninsula is worth checking out. I recommend staying there instead of downtown Bar Harbor, especially in the busy summer. Prices are higher in town, and in the height of summer, it can be packed too. Stay on the peninsula and take the ferry from Winter Harbor to Bar Harbor.
Winter Harbor is a charming coastal town located on the Schoodic Peninsula in eastern Maine, known for its breathtaking natural beauty and connection to Acadia National Park. With a small and close-knit community, it thrives on lobster fishing and seasonal tourism.
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Visitors are drawn to the area for its rugged coastline, picturesque hiking trails, and opportunities to savor fresh lobster. As a quieter alternative to nearby Bar Harbor, Winter Harbor offers a tranquil escape for those seeking a coastal retreat amidst stunning scenery and a slower pace of life.
Bar Harbor is a renowned coastal town nestled on Mount Desert Island, located in Maine. It’s celebrated for its captivating natural beauty and is a gateway to Acadia National Park. As a bustling tourist destination, the town offers a vibrant atmosphere with many shops, restaurants, and accommodations.
Visitors flock to Bar Harbor to explore the park’s scenic wonders, including hiking trails, rocky shores, and Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the U.S. Atlantic coast. With a rich maritime history, stunning landscapes, and a thriving cultural scene, Bar Harbor provides a quintessential New England coastal experience.
How to catch the Winter Harbor Ferry
Ferries are commonly used for transportation between coastal towns and islands in regions like Maine. The ferry between Winter Harbor and Bar Harbor travels through Frenchman Bay, providing guests with spectacular views.
There’s a daily passenger ferry service in the high season. The ferry runs through the first week of October, so if you visit in late fall, you must make other arrangements.
The ferry ride is a great way to see Acadia without the crowds and offers the availability of day trips. In addition, you can catch glimpses of wildlife, such as bald eagles, harbor porpoises, or a harbor seal.
Depart from Winter Harbor
You will need to board the boat at the Bar Harbor Inn Pier. The first trip departs at 10 am and runs every 2 hours until 6:30. The last ferry at 5:30 is only available during the summer months and discontinues after Labor Day weekend.
Depart from Bar Harbor
You must board the boat at the Schoodic Marine Center at 88 Sargent St. The first trip departs at 9 am and runs every 2 hours until 6:30. The last ferry at 6:30 is only available during the summer months and discontinue after Labor Day weekend.
Once you arrive at Winter Harbor, you can hop on the Island explorer shuttle while is free transportation around the peninsula. Check out Schoodic Institute and their Acadia Welcome Center to learn more about the park.
You can purchase tickets in advance, which I highly recommend if you visit in the busy season. Tickets are one-way and are very affordable. Adult tickets are $18 each way, and children ages 0-11 are $14.
Length of trip
Each leg of the trip is roughly 42 minutes give or take.
- You can bring bikes for a small fee
- It is pet-friendly.
- You can bring food and drinks. During the afternoon rides, you can purchase beer, wine and soda.
- Life Jackets are available!
- Use the bathroom before you board, as the facilities are very basic.
Acadia National Park boasts a wealth of natural beauty and attractions. Some of the best sites to see in the park include:
1. Cadillac Mountain: This iconic peak offers panoramic views of the park and is especially popular for witnessing stunning sunrise and sunset vistas. You will need a pass for Cadillac Mtn. I advise purchasing it in advance to ensure you can drive to the top of the mountain.
2. Jordan Pond: Known for its crystal-clear waters and scenic hiking trails, Jordan Pond is a serene spot for leisurely walks and picturesque picnics. This is one of my favorite areas of Acadia. While you are there, grab a popover at the Jordan Pond House.
3. Thunder Hole: A unique coastal feature where waves crash against a rocky inlet, producing thunderous sounds and dramatic sprays of water.
4. Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse: This picturesque lighthouse perched on a rocky shoreline, is a classic symbol of Maine’s maritime heritage.
5. Carriage Roads: Explore a network of historic carriage roads and stone bridges designed by the Rockefeller family, perfect for biking, horseback riding, and peaceful walks.
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6. Sand Beach: Enjoy the unusual experience of a sandy beach nestled among rocky shores, providing a great spot for swimming and sunbathing.
photo credit: K. Wiggins
7. Northeast Harbor is a beautiful area to explore, dine and shop.
These are just a few of the many remarkable sites Acadia National Park offers, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
FAQ: Visiting Acadia
🌲What’s the best time to visit?
Acadia is gorgeous year-round, but most visitors come in summer. Our family loves the early to mid-June right after Memorial Day weekend and before the crowds hit. Fall is a breathtaking time to visit to soak in the fall foliage. Regardless of when you visit, it will be a great time!
🌲Is Winter Harbor worth visiting?
Winter Harbor is worth visiting for those who seek a serene coastal getaway amidst breathtaking natural scenery. Its proximity to Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Peninsula offers numerous outdoor activities and hiking opportunities.
With its charming small-town ambiance and fresh seafood, Winter Harbor provides a peaceful and authentic Maine coastal experience, particularly suited for those who prefer a quieter and less crowded destination than nearby tourist hubs.
🌲Do you have to pay to get into Bar Harbor?
No, it is a cute town on the water. Spend some time shopping, dining, and grabbing ice cream!
🌲How far is Bar Harbor from the entrance to Acadia?
There are four entrances to the park, and they range from 8-25 minutes. The closet entry point is at the Park Headquarters.
🌲Are there ferries to other islands?
Yes, there’s a Cranberry Cove ferry.
In Conclusion: How to Catch the ferry from Winter Harbor to Bar Harbor, 2023
While you are visiting Acadia, make sure to check part of the park on the Schoodic Peninsula. You can stay here to avoid the crowds of Bar Harbor and catch the ferry from Winter Harbor to Bar Harbor or the other way around. I hope my guide on the ferries between the two communities helps you plan your next great adventure!