When it comes to camping in Maine, you have a wide range of terrain to choose from. Whether you’re dreaming of an exposed coastal campsite or a spot tucked away in the northern woods, chances are you’ll find it. Sometimes, you’ll even find a mix of the two. Such is the case when camping on Hermit Island, a tiny peninsula not far north from Portland, Maine.
Once you drive across the sand barrier to Hermit Island, you’re likely not going to leave until it’s time to head home—nor will you want to. The scenery around the island is worth exploring the entirety of your stay, and Hermit Island campground has you covered for the times when you’re not exploring. However, coming prepared is the difference between fully enjoying yourself and spending precious time making repeat trips to the camp store.
What to Know Before you Go: Camping Tips for Hermit Island, Maine
To help you get the most from your Hermit Island experience, we’ve rounded up reviews from The Dyrt campers.
1. Reserve Your Campsite Strategically, and Do It Early
This little peninsula is a popular Maine hideaway come summer for its proximity to Maine’s largest city, Portland. And despite the 270 sites available, Hermit Island campground fills up quickly. The reservation system for individual sites can be tricky as well, as the grounds aren’t available to reserve online. The process involves either mailing a deposit to Hermit Island with a campsite request included, or request a reservation over the phone.
Favorite spots are located near the sandy beach, but the other sites are just as desirable: rocky cliffs, along the harbor, or in the quiet, forested interior. No matter where your site is, you will have use of a picnic table, fire ring, and parking for one car. Tents, pop-up campers and truck campers are allowed, but no RVs or hard top campers. Additionally, there are three small cabins to rent on Hermit Island. Plan to reserve campsites or cabins at least a few months out for July and August.
“This campground does not have an online reservation system. You have to mail in your request or call. When calling during the ‘winter’ months (anytime from September through Mid-June), staff can only be reached from 9:00-2:00.” —The Dyrt camper Kim H.
2. Bring Hiking Boots, Rent the Rest
With seaside hiking trails, rigorous biking trails and a rocky coastline, Hermit Island is a popular destination for water lovers, trail walkers, and bikers, meaning you don’t have to worry about planning your trip around just one activity.
If you don’t have your own gear, the campground offers a few rentals for canoes and row boats. Additionally, you can rent kayaks and paddle boards and pick up other essentials at a nearby outfitters. There are several short hiking trails that weave around Hermit Island, and two even hug the coast for stunning views of the ocean.
“One can easily bike to all the rocky coasts or sandy beaches. You can see the sunrise from one side, and the sunset from another. There are great hiking trails. There is an outdoor volleyball pit, a game room, and snack shop/camp store near the entrance.” —The Dyrt camper Rita M.
3. Fair Warning: Hermit Island is Buggy
Nearly all of our campers have warned us: Hermit Island is buggy. Mosquitos, flies and other insects are one of the biggest pet peeves for campers, and it’s no secret that camping near water puts you at risk of a buggy trip. If you’re poorly prepared, it can ruin your time to say the least. Don’t forget your bug spray, citronella candles, and perhaps even a screened tent for when it can get a little intense around dusk. For those looking to prepare on their own, check out our recipe for DIY bug spray.
Despite the hassle of the mosquitos, Hermit Island is still a favorite with many Maine campers, and it shouldn’t deter you from experiencing this remarkable seaside campground. Just take it from those who have been there: come prepared.
“One warning! Be prepared to deal with mosquitos! Many people use screen tents. We’ve always had good results using thermacell units.” —The Dyrt camper Marylin S.
4. Take Time to Connect With Diverse, Local Wildlife
Wildlife watching in Maine is ideal for its sparse population, cool temperatures in the summer months and rare offerings. Sparrows, egrets, lobsters and the eponymous hermit crabs are commonly seen across the peninsula. For a unique experience, the nearby Boothbay Harbor offers puffin cruises to see the iconic birds around the Maine coast.
For those looking for a more hands-on experience with wildlife, fishing for crabs, clams and lobsters is permitted for registered visitors to the campground. The camp store also sells clams and lobsters—you can rent a pot if you want to cook them yourself, or order some cooked to take back to your campsite.
“If you love wildlife, bird watching is great here, as well as crab and hermit crab catching. You can get good food at the Kelp Shed and freshly cooked lobsters, beer ice, toys, and replacement camp gear at the camp store.” —The Dyrt camper Marylin S.
5. Go Off-Grid — And Love It
Perhaps the most wonderful part about a stay at Hermit Island: the chance to completely disconnect. Cell service is notoriously spotty, at best. Take this as a chance to completely unwind. Turn your phone off. Bring books. Take a nap. Head to the beach. Walk along the coast. Many people rarely get the chance to completely disconnect, so take this as an opportunity to really indulge in the feeling of being off the grid. It’s a beautiful thing.
“This campground has sites on cliffs right above the water, in sandy coves, in the woods, within walking distance…the options are many. We biked everywhere–since there isn’t much parking at the swimming spot. Overall, is a beautiful, relaxing, natural place that we highly recommend.” —The Dyrt camper Rita M.