The Isle au Haut Ferry and What You Need to Know

text reads access our vacation guide happy family on the isle au haut ferryThe Isle au Haut ferry takes residents and visitors to the small Isle au Haut off the rocky coast of Downeast, Maine, just south of Deer Isle. Throughout the year, the boat docks at the Town Landing, and during the summer months, it provides transportation to Duck Harbor. Read on to learn more about this exciting experience and be sure to check out our complimentary Vacation Guide for more great ideas to include in your Downeast itinerary!

What to Know About the Isle au Haut Ferry

How to Get There

Also known as “the mail boat” the Isle au Haut ferry runs out of Stonington. You don’t need advanced reservations, but they do recommend heading down early enough during the summer months. Be sure to check their calendar for specialized cruises such as their scenic afternoon cruises during the summer months. You might even enjoy a 90-minute lobster fishing cruise, puffin cruises, or lighthouse and birding tours!

In addition to “the mail boat,” Old Quarry Ocean Adventures provides seasonal trips to the Town Landing from their waterfront site in Oceanville. They also rent kayaks, provide guided tours, rent sailboats, and offer various camping sights for those looking for a more rustic experience. During the summer, visitors can also opt for eco-tours!  

Travel Tip: The Isle au Haut Light is a sight to behold! Be sure to look out for this lighthouse and cross it off the list of lighthouses on the Deer Isle Lighthouse Trail. If you look closely enough, you might even see Mark Island Light off in the distance!

What You’ll See on the Ferry

The panoramic views from the ferry are a treat all on their own. Stonington Harbor serves as a working harbor for lobster boats, so you can expect to see workers pulling up traps and bring their daily catch back to the lobster coop in town. As you set sail for Isle au Haut, you will pass Crotch Island, which still has a quarry operation that extracts Deer Isle’s famous pink granite. You might also see majestic windjammers traveling from mid-coast towns, such as Camden, into Stonington.

Travel Tip: The Stonington Lobster Boat Races are one of the area’s favorite local events! If you’re in town during the summer, you won’t want to miss an opportunity to attend a race.

Nature enthusiasts can revel in the teeming wildlife that makes their home in Downeast. Seabirds such as the Atlantic puffin, terns, plovers, loons, and gulls all spend time off the coast of Maine. If you’re lucky, you might spot an American eagle making their nests! In addition to birds, seals spend a lot of time sunbathing on large rocks.

What to Expect on the Island

A significant portion of Isle au Haut is a remote region of Acadia National Park. Because of this, the inhabited section of the island is much smaller. The town’s year-round population of 65 only grows in the summertime, when visitors bring those numbers up to a few hundred. If you want to truly get away from it all, the Isle au Haut ferry is a great form of transportation to start your exploration.

Embark from Stonington on Deer Isle and arrive among this quiet paradise. You will see a small, traditional village, a fishing and boating harbor, and unspoiled walking trails that stretch for miles. Bring your bike along or rent from the Isle au Haut ferry. Then use it onshore to travel from the Town Landing to Black Dinah Chocolatiers, the Island Store, and past the small community down one of the many nature trails.

Biking on Isle au Haut

If you enjoy cycling, you can even rent mountain bikes from the same company to use on the island! Otherwise, you can bring your own bikes along for a small additional fee. It’s an excellent way to explore the entirety of the island, stopping along the way for short hikes and scenic vistas.

Where to Stay

mugs and flowers on a breakfast table at pilgrim's innPilgrim’s Inn makes the perfect bookend stay for those planning a trip to the Isle au Haut on the ferry! Spend a couple of nights on Deer Isle exploring all the best things to do in the area, and then head to Isle au Haut for hiking adventures. Take the ferry back to Deer Isle and stay with us again for a hot shower, comfortable accommodations, and a delicious, homemade breakfast. We look forward to hosting you!

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