The Isle au Haut Ferry and What You Need to Know

Isle au Haut is an island off the Downeast Coast of Maine, just south of Deer Isle and Pilgrim’s Inn. This is a great destination to visit for a variety of reasons! Commercial passage to Isle au Haut is only accessible from Stonington on Deer Isle. Therefore, the two communities are tied together through ferry services. The Isle au Haut ferry provides reliable transportation for residents and visitors alike, from mail and freight service to passenger carriage. Throughout the year, the boat docks at the Town Landing on Isle au Haut. During the summer months, it provides services to Duck Harbor. Here you can explore hiking trails that are part of the Acadia National Park system. Riding the Isle au Haut ferry is a fun experience, and here is what you need to know before climbing on board.

How To Get There

The Isle au Haut ferry or “the mail boat” is run by Isle au Haut Boat Services located in Stonington, Maine. While advanced reservations are not needed, it’s a good idea to head down early during the summer months. If you’re a cyclist, then you can rent mountain bikes from the same company to use on the island or bring your own on the boat for an additional fee. It’s a great way to explore the entire circumference of the island, with stops along the way for short hikes and scenic vistas. Isle au Haut boat services also offer afternoon scenic cruises during the summer months, including a 90-minute lobster fishing cruise Monday through Saturday from mid-June to mid- September. Specialized cruises such as Puffin trips and lighthouse and birding tours take place on specific dates. So, be sure to check the online calendar. 

In addition to the mail boat, Old Quarry Ocean Adventures offers seasonal trips to the Town Landing from their waterfront site in Oceanville. Old Quarry also rents kayaks, provides guided tours with experienced kayakers, rents sailboats, and provides camping sites for those looking for a more rustic experience.  During the summer months, they also offer afternoon and morning eco-tours. There are also specialized cruises on specific days.

What You’ll See on the Isle au Haut Ferry

Maine has simply beautiful scenes and landscapes! You won’t be disappointed when you travel across Stonington Harbor to Isle au Haut. Stonington Harbor is a working harbor for lobster boats, so you’ll see traps being pulled and lobster boats bringing their catch back to the lobster coop in Stonington. You’ll pass Crotch Island, which still has a quarry operation that extracts the famous Deer Isle pink granite. During the summer months, you may also see majestic windjammers that often travel from mid-coast towns like Camden into Stonington. 

As you travel towards the island, you’ll see the Isle au Haut Lighthouse and Mark Island Light off in the distance. These beacons line the rocky shorelines and are great subjects for scenic photographs. Along with lighthouses, you will also see plenty of wildlife, including Pelagic birds like the Atlantic puffin. You might also glimpse terns, plovers, loons, and a variety of gulls. While on Isle au Haut, be sure to keep your eyes out for the American eagle, as our section of the Maine coast has some of the largest numbers of nesting eagles in the country! As you cruise out to the island, you’ll also catch sight of seals sunning themselves on large rocks.

On Isle au Haut

A significant portion of Isle au Haut is a remote region of Acadia National Park. Because of this, the inhabited region of the island is much smaller. The town’s year-round population of 65 only grows in the summertime, when visitors bring those numbers up to a few hundred. If you want to truly get away from it all, the Isle au Haut ferry is a great form of transportation to start your exploration. Embark from Stonington on Deer Isle and arrive among this quiet paradise. You will see a small, traditional village, a fishing and boating harbor, and unspoiled walking trails that stretch for miles. Bring your bike along or rent from the Isle au Haut ferry. Then use it onshore to travel from the Town Landing to Black Dinah Chocolatiers, the Island Store, and past the small community down one of the many nature trails.

Stay at Pilgrim’s Inn

We hope you have a wonderful time adventuring to this little slice of untamed wild! Book your Isle au Haut ferry ride from Stonington, and be prepared for a day of adventure. Be sure to check the schedule before you embark! After your day of adventure, come back to Pilgrim’s Inn for a peaceful night’s sleep in one of our rooms, and a delicious meal at our restaurant.

For more to do in the area, download our free Deer Isle Vacation Guide!