Charts: NOAA 13302, 13312
Bar Harbor is about 100 nautical miles northeast of Portland, and 38 nautical miles southeast of Bangor. To reach it from the south and west, head first for Matinicus Rock Light (43°47.04’ N, 68°51.34’ W), marked by a white light flashing every 10 seconds. From the Matinicus Rock light, steer approximately northeast for 35 nautical miles to Great Duck Island Light (44°08.51’ N, 68°14.84’ W), leaving it to port while getting on a new heading for the red whistle buoy “BBI” (44°13.64’ N, 68°10.90’ W). Next, head for the red bell buoy “4” (44°20.34’ N, 68°08.60’ W), which will put you in position to run right into the Bar Harbor Breakwater entrance light, which is 3.5 nautical miles away from “BBI” on a northwesterly course. Be aware that the breakwater is submerged at high tide, so use caution in this area. From the east, it’s best first to find lighted red bell buoy “2S” (44°19.12’ N, 68°02.15’ W), which is about a half-mile south of Schoodic Island. From there, proceed to red bell buoy “4” described above and in to Bar Harbor.
Note: When approaching and leaving the harbor, watch out for the 140-foot, high-speed catamaran used by the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co.
- Dockage and moorings are plentiful in Bar Harbor. Contact the Harbormaster’s Office (207-288-5571; VHF 9, 16 or 68) for dockage at the Bar Harbor Municipal Pier or for one of the town’s 3 guest moorings. There is no launch service, so you’ll need a dinghy. There is a small landing for offloading passengers on the right side of the pier. Dinghy tie-up is available as well. Be aware that there are no public showers, no ice at the dock and that fuel cannot be purchased when a cruise ship is using the dock.
- At the nearby Harbor Place, managed by the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. (207-288-2386; VHF channel 16), dockage and moorings are available first-come, first-served basis.
- Harborside Hotel & Marina (800-328-5033): Offers slips in the harbor.
- Bar Harbor Regency (207-288-9723): A gated resort with 2 marinas and dock space capable of handling boats up to 185′. The town dock and marinas have a depth of 13′. Most offer water, electricity, showers, ice and similar amenities, including pump-out service and fuel.
- Fisherman’s Landing (207-288-4632): Offers fuel but no dockage and just a few moorings. The fuel float is available at high tide only.
- According to many boaters, the Bar Harbor anchorage (marked on charts) is far from ideal. The anchorage affords limited wind protection and the wakes of other boats can make for an uncomfortable stay on the hook. Note that you must contact the harbormaster before anchoring.
- A second, more protected spot (at least in southerly winds) to anchor is on the northern side and western sides of Bar Island, although this puts you farther from town. The north-side anchorage is marked on charts, with depths of 56′ to 77′. There is a shallower spot just west of the island, but watch the rocks close to shore.
- Bar Harbor’s only improved launch ramp is adjacent to the town pier. No fee. You can usually find parking along West Street.
- Another launch ramp is located in Lamoine, on the mainland north of Bar Harbor. It is a good ramp with access on most tides and space for 12 vehicles. No fee.
Coastal Kayaking Tours (800-526-8615): Offers kayak rental, as well as guided half- and full-day harbor and sunset tours in and around Bar Harbor and Mount Desert. Also sells used kayaks.
- Bar Harbor Bike Shop (207-288-3886): Bike-rental shop 1/2-mile from the waterfront on Cottage Street.
- Acadia Bike (800-526-8615): Offers bike rentals and group tours in Acadia National Park.
- At Your Service Taxi (207-288-9222)
- Oli’s Trolley (207-288-9899): Narrated tours of Bar Harbor and Acadia.
- National Park Tours (207-288-0300)
- Island Explorer (207-667-5796): Free propane-fueled shuttle buses running between the Village Green on Cottage Street and almost anywhere inside Acadia National Park.
Hannaford’s (207-288-5680) is a large grocery store on Cottage Street, a few blocks up from the town docks. If the grog locker needs restocking, check out the varieties at Bayside Liquors (207-288-2772) on Main Street. The Rite Aid store on Cottage Street (207-288-2222) has a full line of drug-store products, and Bar Harbor Trustworthy Hardware (207-288-5567) also on Cottage Street, sells most household hardware items and some marine products.
- In Bar Harbor, the most popular diversion is unquestionably Acadia National Park (207-288-3338), which is accessible in any number of ways. A $10 admission ticket gives visitors access to the park for 10 days and includes unlimited rides on the free Island Explorer (207-667-5796), which provides several propane-fueled shuttle buses running between the Village Green on Cottage Street and almost anywhere in the park. If you’d like to see the park by kayak, try Aquaterra Adventures (207-288-0007), located right on the town wharf. If you’d like to go to the top of Acadia’s highest peak and elsewhere effortlessly, contact Oli’s Trolley (207-288-9899) or National Park Tours (207-288-0300).
- Aquaterra Adventures (207-288-0007): Offers guided coastal kayaking trips and lessons. Located right on the town wharf. Shop proprietor Steve Dugay is wealth of local information on Bar Harbor and the surrounding waters.
- Whale watching is available via the Friendship V, a 112-foot, jet-powered catamaran run by the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co., (207-288-2386).
- The George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History, (207-288-5015): Part of the College of the Atlantic at 105 Eden Street, the Dorr Museum offers a nice collection of whale bones and seabird displays.
- Lulu Lobsterboat Rides (207-963-2341): Harbor tours and sightseeing aboard a working lobsterboat.
- Diver Ed Dive-In Theatre (800-979-3370): Diver Ed and his crew take children and adults on the water and show them live footage of Ed’s dives below the surface of Bar Harbor. Later, Ed surfaces with all sorts of treasures from the bottom, including urchins, starfish and lobsters. Fun, entertaining and educational.
- Mount Desert Oceanarium (207-288-5005): Explore the wonders of Maine’s waters, marshes and forests through live-animal exhibits and trail walks. Great “kid-friendly” learning experience.
In Bar Harbor, restaurants of nearly every description are within walking distance of the town landing. Here are a few:
- McKay’s Public House (207-288-2002): Located at 231 Main Street, McKay’s offers an eclectic menu combined with a homey atmosphere at reasonable prices.
- Looking Glass Restaurant (800-445-4077): Upscale American cuisine with all the trimmings.
- The Thirsty Whale (207-288-9335): On Cottage Street, the Whale serves good, inexpensive pub food and a half-dozen choices of local draft beers.
- Poor Boy’s Gourmet Restaurant (207-288-4148): Highly recommended by local expert Steve Dugay, the Poor Boy is located near the waterfront and serves everything from steaks to seafood.
- Morning Glory Bakery (207-288-3041): Gourmet baked goods and coffee.
- Fish House Grill (207-288-3070): Seafood and more on West Street near the water.
- Coach Stop Inn (207-288-9886)
- Llangolan Inn & Cottages (207-288-3016)
- Rose Eden Cottages (207-288-3038)
- Harborside Hotel & Marina (207-288-5033)
- Bar Harbor Inn (207-288-3351)
- Quimby House (207-288-5581)
- Balance Rock Inn (207-288-2610)
- Bar Harbor Villager Motel (207-288-3211)
- Saltair Inn (207-288-2882)
- Atlantean Inn (207-288-5703)
- Emery’s Cottages (207-288-3432)
- Bay Meadow Cottages (207-288-5451)
- Quality Inn (800-424-6423 or 207-288-5403)
- Holbrook House (207-288-4970)
- The Aurora Inn (207-288-3771)
- The Colony (207-288-3383)
- A great source of inside information is the website of Aquaterra Adventures Kayak Outfitters . The store and site are maintained by Steve Dugay, who knows Bar Harbor inside and out.
- For general information on Bar Harbor and Swans Island, check out Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce (207-288-5103) or the Acadia National Park.
- To watch videos of activities in and around Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park go to this website.