Southwest Harbor, Maine has one of the most enchanting harbors on the east coast of the United States. Located on the southwest side of Mount Desert Island in Hancock County, it is near the southern entrance to the glacially formed Somes Sound, the only fjord on the eastern shore of North America. Sunrises are often stunning and sunsets have the special quality of being gorgeous in the west as well as in the east since the last golden rays of the setting sun caresses the mountain tops to the east, including Cadillac Mountain towering above the ocean below.
Southwest Harbor has an interesting history. It was the first place on Mount Desert Island to have hotels and wharves to accommodate steamboats in the earlier nineteenth century. The island's first settlement was in what is now called Somesville in the year 1761. The whole island, including the Cranberry Isles, Beech Island, Robertson's Island, and Bartlett's Island, was formed into Mount Desert in 1789. The section now known as Southwest Harbor was incorporated on February 21, 1905. Per the year 2000 census, it encompasses 22.6 sq. miles (13.5 is land, 9.1 is water) and includes 1,966 residents. In acreage it is approximately 8,884.
There are several attractive shops, restaurants, lobster pounds, inns, bed & breakfasts, and other businesses in the area. For the activity mined, there are boat, canoe, kayak, and bike rental companies as well.
Boat building and lobstering are very important industries here as one would expect. Henry R. Hinckley started a boat building company here in 1928. It still is building boats today and is world renown for it quality of craftsmanship.
This side of Mount Desert Island is referred to as the “Quietside” by locals because of the more relaxed pace when compared to the more busy Bar Harbor side of the island. Natives enjoy and are protective of this more peaceful aspect and visitors to the area appreciate this as well.
Of note is the Wendell Gilley Museum of Bird Carving. Exceptional artistic carvings by the world famous Wendell Gilley are featured here. Gilley is recognized as one of the early pioneers of this art form. Museum: (207) 244-7555
Photos: Southwest Harbor | Sunrise Reflections | Silhouette | Yachts in Sunrise
Main Street | Yachts & Mountains | Somes Sound | Sunset Glow | Relaxing!
Interesting Fact: The 1999 film “Storm of the Century” was filmed in Southwest Harbor.
The Free Island Explorer Shuttle Bus Service makes regular (in season) stops in Southwest Harbor. (Refer to their #7 Southwest Harbor Route.) The bus also makes regular seasonal stops at the Bar Harbor Village Green.
The U.S. Coast Guard has a logistics and support department in Southwest Harbor. Its first presence in the area was established by an act of congress on June 18th, 1878.
The postal zip code for Southwest Harbor, Maine is 04679.
Southwest Harbor GPS Coordinates: Latitude 44.278333; Longitude -68.321944
Explore Southwest Harbor!