"The Cranberry Isles, Maine" Cranberry Isles by goodfish

Cranberry Isles Travel Guide: 7 reviews and 16 photos

A Visit to Little Cranberry

Wow - the first one to write about this? I think most VT visitors have put the Cranberry Isles under "Off the Beaten Path" on Bar Harbor pages. The half day we spent roaming around this charming, peaceful little island was time so well spent that I thought it deserved its own page.

Little Cranberry is the next largest of five islands (along with Great Cranberry, Sutton, Bear and Baker) that make up the town of Cranberry Isles. Although it's smaller than Great Cranberry, it has the most year-round inhabitants (about 90) and its own village (Islesford). The islands were named for the wild, low-bush cranberries which grow on the largest two.

Native American Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes lived here long before the first settler, Ben Bunker, came in 1762. John Stanley settled on Little Cranberry soon after, and you can find his grave at the end of Sand Beach Road. The names of early settlers (Stanley, Bunker, Hadlock, Spurling, etc.) are found all over the small cemeteries and are still carried by some of their island descendents today.

Little Cranberry is a working island of mostly lobstermen and artists, and the population triples in the summer when renters, seasonal artists and inhabitants who choose to winter on the mainland come back to enjoy the warmer months. The island is only 1 and 1/2 miles long by 3/4 mile wide with just a few roads and a minimum of cars. As everything has to be ferried over from the mainland, residents keep one vehicle in Northeast Harbor for errands and another on the island to haul supplies from the dock. It may look like a lonely place to live - especially in the winter - but people here have long had a close-knit sense of community and are VERY good at making their own fun. Like any lovely, secluded place, the price of property has skyrocketed so there's concern among the grandsons and daughters of the early settlers for the preservation of authentic island life.

This is a place to escape the crowds of Bar Harbor. There's not a lot to do. There's not a lot to see. It's a place to come look and listen and learn about a tiny, isolated fishing village that's been home to resourceful, determined people for several centuries. This was the one thing we did on our Acadia trip that was spur-of-the-moment, and it turned out to be more enjoyable and interesting than expected! Those wanting to spend more than a few hours of quiet time here can find rental info here. More info on the Cranberries (including facilities on Great Cranberry) can be found here.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Interesting peek at offshore life
  • Cons:Not good in the rain, winter or if you don't enjoy just poking around.
  • In a nutshell:Well worth the effort!!!
  • Last visit to Cranberry Isles: Sep 2006
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (7)

Comments (8)

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Sep 25, 2015 at 12:53 PM

    Somehow these islands never got on our radar when we were in Bar Harbor many years ago. A shame as I can see from your write-up that we would have loved a day out here! Looks great for photography and for generally mooching around :-)

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      Sep 25, 2015 at 5:47 PM

      It's one I would do again, and add Great Cranberry to the mix next time. The museum and some of the other visitor amenities didn't exist there then so we'll have to give it another shot!

  • jo104's Profile Photo
    Sep 25, 2015 at 12:22 PM

    nice write up, I alwasy like wandering around old graveyards some people think it strange

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      Sep 25, 2015 at 5:42 PM

      I love walking cemeteries. I try to make sure to hit at least one everywhere we go.

  • LeslieofTodd's Profile Photo
    Mar 21, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    Hi Kate- Happy Spring! Yep, I know, it is snowing here too! I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the wonderful pages on the "Cranberry Isles" of Maine. I lived in New England for seven years and have re-visited often but never discovered this treasure of Maine! I am hoping to visit a dear friend on Martha's Vineyard, MA sometime this year and would love to go further north to check this quaint area of Maine out for myself. Nice photos, too! Thanks, Leslie

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      Mar 21, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      Thanks for stopping by, Leslie! We loved Acadia, and Mt Desert is such a fun island to drive around. We're hoping to get back one of these days for some more exploring.

  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
    Dec 19, 2012 at 5:38 AM

    I see what you mean - quite an oversight on everyone else's part!

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      Dec 19, 2012 at 5:55 AM

      Thanks so much for the virtual visit, Cathy! These pages haven't exactly seen a lot of action. Then again, we've had exactly one forum question about Acadia N.P. in the history of VT. That blows my mind as it's a gorgeous - and popular - destination.

    • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
      Dec 19, 2012 at 6:00 AM

      How odd!
      The place that prompted the last part of my question was Tulbagh, about 2 hours inland of Cape Town, which we visited over the weekend. Not only was it the location of South Africa's most devastating earthquake in history, but Church Street (which is about 1 km long) boasts 32 national monuments!
      How on earth did that one get overlooked???

  • glabah's Profile Photo
    Mar 19, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    Some of these islands are such wonderful places because they have so little traffic.

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Mar 19, 2011 at 9:39 PM

    What a quaint little place Kate!... and well deserving of a page here on vt....even if it is only 1 :o) Love the cute little buildings! Hugs, Ann.

  • Dester's Profile Photo
    Jul 30, 2009 at 4:06 AM

    Doug hit it right on the head Kathy. Beautiful photos of a nice daytrip

  • Tugboatguy's Profile Photo
    Jul 3, 2008 at 7:38 PM

    Kathy, You have summarized very well the history of this intriguing group of isles and have a great take on the place-meaningful tips, fine photos of quaint architecture and pretty seascape scenes. Thanks, Doug


“Itineraries are for sissies”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 1 1 8
Forum Rank:
0 0 0 0 6

Badges & Stats in Cranberry Isles

  • 7 Reviews
  • 16 Photos
  • 0 Forum posts
  • 5,067PageViews

Have you been to Cranberry Isles?

  Share Your Travels  

Latest Activity in Cranberry Isles

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (8)