March 31, 2017
By Paige Rollins
DEER ISLE – STONINGTON – Those who have witnessed the breathtaking sunsets from an island on the coast of Maine truly understand why our license plates read, “Vacationland.” The serenity takes over your body and mind as you watch the sky turn shades of orange, pink, and purple, as the sun slowly disappears below the horizon. This natural beauty is one of many reasons Deer Isle and Stonington are such popular vacation destinations during the summer months.
Local resident Julie Eaton describes living on the island as, “Stepping back in time 50 years in all the best senses. It’s a very tight knit community who really care about each other. Truly the way life should be.” Another local, Delaney Billings adds, “The island is a way of life. For most it’s all they have ever experienced. It’s beautiful, quiet, and safe… Charming if you will, but very sheltered.”
In Deer Isle you will find several hiking trails, including the popular Barred Island Preserve. The mile-long trail twists and turns through forest scenery until you reach the “bar.” When the tide is low, the bar and beaches are exposed and you are able to walk across to Barred Island. The Crockett Cove Woods in Stonington has several trails running through its one hundred acres, which are full of a wife variety of ferns, mosses, and lichens – a paradise for nature-lovers.
After you’ve done some exploring around the Deer Isle and Stonington areas, I highly recommend taking a trip out to Isle Au Haut. It is a 45 minute ride on the mail boat, but the views out and back and when you arrive are well worth the wait. Half of Isle Au Haut is actually part of Acadia National Park.
When your ferry arrives back to Stonington, you may decide you want to stay in a room overlooking the ocean. For just $161-176 per night, you can pick from one of eight rooms overlooking the lobster boats and pot buoys that decorate Stonington Harbor at the Inn On The Harbor. An extensive and healthy breakfast is included in your stay.
If you find yourself crossing back into the town of Deer Isle, you’ve got to visit The Pilgrim’s Inn and Whale’s Rib Tavern. Built in 1793, the original pumpkin pine wood floors contribute to this building’s historic Deer Isle charm. With only 12 rooms and three cottages, your stay here will be the quiet escape you’ve been yearning for. Room rates range from $139 per night for a small third-floor room recommended for one, to $219 per night for a large second-floor room featuring a king-sized bed. Views of the harbor, lawn, garden, and millpond included. Complimentary breakfast is included in every room package, featuring items such as omelettes, breakfast quesadillas, and eggs benedict.
The Whale’s Rib Tavern is a restaurant within the same building as the inn, and there is good reason there’s booked nearly every single night throughout July and August. With one of their most popular dishes being pan-seared halibut over a lobster risotto with romesco sauce, and Chef Matthew Mattes’s signature Seafood Stew including local mussels, halibut, and a grilled half lobster, you will be enjoying some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever eat in your life. Splurge on dessert and treat yourself to the irresistible chocolate-caramel shortbread tart topped with sea-salt for dessert. There is no way you will leave the Whale’s Rib Tavern unsatisfied. Other popular restaurants include The Cockatoo at Goose Cove Resort which offers a beachfront area for the kids to play while the adults enjoy a cocktail on the deck. Also available is The Fisherman’s Friend which offers unfussy seafood options with an outdoor deck and harbor view.
Just a few miles down the road in Deer Isle, you will find Nervous Nellies Jams and Jellies in a cottage with an antique shop atmosphere. There is a wide variety of homemade goods in addition to their popular jams and jellies, and the sculptures showcased around their property are a mere preview of the island’s thriving arts culture, which is also fun for children to explore.
There are numerous art, jewelry and textile galleries located between Deer Isle and Stonington as well as The Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. The historic Stonington Opera House, built in 1912 originally featured headliners from all over the world who would arrive to the harbor by schooner. Today the facade is much the same while the interior has been updated to screen current films and house theatrical productions. For those of you who require a caffeine fix after your morning hike and before gallery exploring, 44 North is a new coffee shop with two locations on the island. They offer coffee they custom roast from 100% Arabica beans as well as an excellent array of baked goods and all sorts of clothing with their fun logo.
If you need a relaxing getaway, come visit the beautiful island of Deer Isle and Stonington. Witness the sun rise and set over the flat, calm ocean. See areas of nature, undisturbed by humans. Water a lobsterman bring in their day’s catch and take it off the boat to sell to local co-ops. After all, who doesn’t want to go home and tell their friends they picked out and ate a lobster from one of the first lobstering towns in Maine?