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Island offers plenty to see and do



Published: Sun, July 28, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Lighthouse boat tours, whale watching and fishing are a few of the activities available on Mount Desert.

Mount Desert, a 16- by 13-mile island, offers something for everyone, from shopping to kayaking, and from whale watching to fine dining.

Shaped appropriately like a giant lobster claw, the island, in addition to Acadia National Park, offers a taste of rural countryside, heavy forests, winding creeks and clear-blue lakes and ponds.

Bar Harbor, the largest town on the island, is also probably the busiest.

Originally known as Eden, Bar Harbor became a town in 1796 and thrives today with a steady stream of tourists.

With quaint shops offering everything from fine art to cheesy souvenirs, the town offers a lively and entertaining visit. Antique shops, art galleries and restaurants line the streets and oceanfront hotels and campgrounds offer a place to relax at the end of the day.

Southern tip

At the southern tip of the island, Bass Harbor Head Light marks the entrance to Bass Harbor.

The light, built in 1858, is one of the most photographed lights on the East Coast, probably because of its traditional position perched on a rocky cliff above the water.

The light is fully automated and owned by the Coast Guard, and it's accessible and open to the public. Don't miss the path at the back of the parking lot where you can climb down on the rocks and view the light from below, an awesome place to sit and enjoy the light towering majestically over the frothy waves of the Atlantic.

Other nearby lights include Bear Island, Baker Island, Egg Rock and Great Duck Island.

Lighthouse boat tours offer views of the lights from the water.

Other water excursions include boat cruises offering whale watching and an opportunity to spot humpback, finback and minke whales.

Nothing is more thrilling than spotting a humpback whale breaching and re-entering the water, with its huge tail fin hitting the water with a slap.

While whale watching you might also be lucky enough to spot a seal, porpoise or puffin.

Fishing

Fishing expeditions, including deep-sea fishing and lobster trapping, are readily available, and if you'd like to take a taste of the island home, lobster pounds will package fresh caught lobster.

The island has plenty of campgrounds, lodges, hotels and Bed & amp; Breakfast accommodations, but plan ahead and make reservations because the tourist season keeps this little island bustling most of the year.

Any time of year, it's wise to plan for the weather, which in Maine can be changeable and extreme at best.

No matter what the season or the weather, Mount Desert is a wonderful place to visit.




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