A Visit to Squirrel Island

A little known secret in Boothbay is that even without a private boat, you can visit Squirrel Island, a summer colony just a few minutes off the coast of Boothbay.

Squirrel Island-3

This small island is named for its shape, not for its inhabitants (I actually did not see a single squirrel during my visit, except the seemingly obligatory stone garden ornament squirrels.)

Squirrel Island

There are no shops or restaurants on the island, except for a pop-up ice cream café open only for about 6 weeks each year in the height of the summer. But if you pack some water and snacks and pick a sunny day, Squirrel Island makes for a spectacular day or half-day trip from the Harbor.

Squirrel Island-4

To get to Squirrel Island, take the Balmy Days' Scenic Harbor Tour on their boat, The Novelty. Check the schedule and time your harbor cruise to get off at Squirrel Island and return to Boothbay with a harbor cruise later in the day (usually 2 or 2 1/2 hours later). Two hours is enough time to get a sense of the island--to walk the perimeter and also most of the interior. Spring Cove (see the top photo, above), a 10-minute walk south of the ferry port (see map below), has a beautiful beach with turquoise water--yes, turquoise water, in Maine!

Squirrel Island Map

The western side of the island is lined with beautiful "cottages" (some are closer to mansions) and a boardwalk path linking them. The (now dirt) path continues through a wilder, wooded section in the southeast of the island, then rejoins a paved path in the northeast.

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Squirrel Island is a must-see for anyone visiting in season! You can do the trip most days May through mid-October.

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  1. I was told, just today by someone at Balmy Days Harbor tours, that we cannot visit the island unless we know someone there who owns a cottage??? True? My daughter, husband and I drove through Boothbay this past weekend (we live in Wiscasset) and thought it would be wonderful to visit Squirrel Island for a few hours. We’ve gone by it so many times on whale watches out of Boothbay. Can someone tell me if there is a way to actually visit without knowing anyone who lives there?

    • Lisa,

      You can definitely visit Squirrel Island without knowing someone there–at least I did as recently as Memorial Day weekend (2015). The Novelty is the boat: http://www.balmydayscruises.com/harbor/rates.shtml. It’s true they don’t advertise it widely. I don’t think they want hoards of people going out to Squirrel Island, but it’s certainly possible. Maybe they misunderstood you? It’s true that you can’t stay on Squirrel Island unless you own/rent a cottage there or are staying with friends, and there is also no where to eat or buy food.


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