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Bass Harbor: A Timeless Way of Life

Tucked in to the “quiet” southwestern side of Mount Desert Island, Bass Harbor is a classic New England fishing village. When the government established a post office nearby in the early 1900s, the village still had not officially been named. Federal officials asked the locals for suggestions, only to hear the reply, “You can name it after the President for all we care!” Thus, the village was officially called “McKinley” from that day forward—until it was changed to Bass Harbor by petition in 1961.

Today, Bass Harbor remains one of Maine’s most lucrative lobster ports and an icon of its rich historic and cultural traditions. Lobster traps, winding roads, and antique buildings offset the majestic scenery of the harbor and offshore islands. Just 35 minutes from Bar Harbor, Island Cruises offers a secluded and comfortable way to experience coastal Maine on the less traveled side of the island. The village is part of the Hancock County municipality of Tremont along with the village of Bernard right across the harbor.


Bass Harbor Head Light marks the eastern entrance to Blue Hill Bay, at the southwesternmost point of Mount Desert Island. One of the most photographed lighthouses in America, Bass Harbor Head sits on steep, rugged cliffs surrounded by evergreens, a perfect symbol of the beautiful but hardy landscape of coastal Maine. It is the only lighthouse on the mainland of Mount Desert Island. The original lighthouse, built from brick, was established in 1858, and still stands today. A fog bell and 32-foot tower were added in 1876, and the station was automated in 1974. In 1988, the entire structure joined the National Registry of Historic Places. Today, the grounds belong to Acadia National Park and include the original keeper’s cabin, now home to a Coast Guard family, as well as a 1902 oil house and a 1905 barn. Bass Harbor Head is open year-round and offers free parking, but the current family in residence asks that visitors please respect their privacy.


What stirs the imagination more than sunset over a peaceful bay, or colorful fishing boats against a stormy sky? Bass Harbor is home to fantastic scenery as well as a wide variety of wildlife. Seals, seabirds, eagles, porpoises, and of course, lobster can all be observed in their natural habitats, amid the breathtaking views of the offshore islands. Bass Harbor’s spectacular coastal landscapes form a perfect complement to the quaint charm of the village. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or as part of a family tradition, Bass Harbor offers an unforgettable experience for both children and adults. Come discover the beauty and heritage of coastal Maine!