Mount Desert Island Travel Guide

Home of Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island is a breathtaking location off the southeast coast of Maine. The island is one of America's biggest, with a population of 10,000. This population swells annually when around four million travellers visit to marvel at the destination's rugged coastline, beautiful settings and easy pace, which have captivated people since the 1800s.

Evidence of Native American settlement on Mount Desert Island dating back roughly 5,000 years is found in large shell heaps. However, not much is known about the island's early history. Like the rest of Maine and its surrounds, European settlement was originally French and later dominated by the English.

In the early 19th century, a group of writers and artists began to put Mount Desert Island on the map. Known as the 'rusticators', they braved very basic accommodation and simple fare, and immortalised its lush forests, tall peaks such as Mount Cadillac, and its ocean scenery.

Soon, the island began to lure America's wealthiest families, as the Rockefellers, Astors, Vanderbilts and the like set up ostentatious summer homes. A period of extravagance followed, tempered only by World War II.

Fortunately, relaxation combined with conservation. Via the creation of parks, many of these families enabled the protection of the island's flora and fauna. Today, Mount Desert Island is still a popular place to visit and offers plenty of activities such as hiking, fishing, water sports, horse riding, cycling, and succulent Maine Lobster.

Bar Harbor is a beautiful town close to the Acadia National Park. However, tacky tourist shops and bumper-to-bumper traffic may discourage people. It's accessible by foot from the pier of Bar Harbor while the Shore Path showcases the island's spectacular terrain.