We are partnering with two locally-owned Maine businesses to giveaway an iconic weekend exploring Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park! The trip includes a scenic nature cruise aboard the Sea Princess, narrated by a Park Ranger who will point out eagles, seals, and Peregrine falcon nesting sites, as well as a stay in the charming Harbour Cottage Inn in Southwest Harbor. Both the Sea Princess and the Harbour Cottage Inn are based on the “Quiet Side” of Mount Desert Island, the island’s best-kept secret.
For those who aren’t familiar with the geography of Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park, the famed colorful town of Bar Harbor is located on the east side of the island, where cruise ships dock and the bustling downtown is full of countless shops and restaurants. The Park Loop Road, a one-way driving route that covers all of Acadia’s greatest hits from Sand Beach to the Thunder Hole and the Jordan Pond House, is also on the east side of the island. However, with popularity comes crowds.
Many visitors to Mount Desert Island think the east side is the only place to go, but the west side (also known as the “Quiet Side”) offers 10,000 acres of Acadia National Park that is packed full of hiking trails, plus Echo Lake and Long Lake, the charming town of Southwest Harbor, and the iconic Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. The Beech Cliff Trail on the shore of Echo Lake, full of ladders and white-knuckle cliff traverses, may even be just as exciting of a hike as the popular Beehive Trail on the east side.
The east and west sides of the island are divided by Somes Sound, a very deep waterway and canyon formed by a glacier that many consider to be a fjord (geologists will debate the exact definition of a fjord, with some calling Somes Sound a “fjard,” or essentially a mini-fjord).
“The ‘Quiet Side’ still has amazing hikes in Acadia National Park, great swims and adventures in freshwater lakes, wonderful restaurants, and lobster pounds, but with the added bonus of a more relaxed vibe, and you don’t have to battle for parking,” says Susan Allen, owner of the Harbour Cottage Inn in Southwest Harbor. Allen is also an agent at the Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty office on Mount Desert Island, located at 6 Neighborhood Road in Northeast Harbor.
“Our guests will go to Bar Harbor for their first full day and come back happy to have a much quieter place to relax and enjoy the island,'” says Allen. “It all feels very walkable and quaint here on the ‘Quiet Side.’ We don’t have t-shirt shops and souvenir stores. But the locals here on the ‘Quiet Side’ even say it’s too busy now,” she adds with a laugh.
See Acadia National Park from the water
Morning Nature Cruise departs daily from Northeast Harbor at 9:30 am
Trip Duration: 2 hours, 45 mins
The Sea Princess is a Mount Desert Island “Quiet Side” staple, offering the same iconic nature tours on the same route out of Northeast Harbor for the past fifty years, lasting roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes with various pit stops along the way. In addition to an Acadia National Park ranger who helps point out local wildlife including bald eagles, Peregrin Falcons, and seals, the cruise travels into Somes Sound and stops at a historic fishing village of Islesford on nearby Little Cranberry Island. Guests can explore Islesford’s quaint shops and restaurants by the docks and venture into the Islesford Historic Museum.
The boat itself has only changed hands a few times since its inception in 1968.
Growing up on the island, brothers Andy and James Allen attended Mount Desert Island high school, and their high school principal Rob Liebow owned and captained the Sea Princess. Andy and his wife Susan, another MDI high school graduate, ended up leaving the island together to become a yacht captain and chef, traveling the globe and traversing waters from Maine to Charleston, South Carolina, to Croatia and the Mediterranean, and down to the Caribbean around the Bahamas.
But eventually, the island called the globe-trotting couple back and a golden opportunity sealed the deal. “In 2005 we were looking to move back where we grew up, to settle down and have kids, and the Sea Princess came up for sale,” explains Andy Allen. “Our old high school principal Rob Liebow, who always had the summers off, was just promoted to the superintendent of the regional Mount Desert Island schools system, and could no longer own and operate the Sea Princess.”
So Andy and his brother James purchased the Sea Princess, and still employ Liebow as a captain. The brothers are only the third owners of the Sea Princess and plan to continue the tradition for as long as they can. The pair also own Lulu Lobster Boat, another tour company out of Bar Harbor that shows guests a sneak peek of life for the island’s lobstermen.
Harbour Cottage Inn
Bed & Breakfast in Southwest Harbor
11 unique guest rooms and suites
Cooking and hospitality has always been in Susan Allen’s nature. “When Andy and I worked on the yacht, we loved meeting travelers and hosting,” she says. “We kept the space comfortable and beautiful and realized the land-based version of the yacht is a bed and breakfast.” Susan and Andy decided to purchase the historic Harbour Cottage Inn in Southwest Harbor in the fall of 2019, right before the pandemic.
Despite the unexpected challenges from the pandemic, the Allens still love hosting and feeding guests coming to enjoy their home island. In addition to the 11 unique guest rooms and suites, the bed and breakfast also boasts the Bowspit Bar, offering cocktails and small plates inside and on the new scenic deck underneath the property’s sprawling tulip poplar. The charming historic property was originally built in 1870 by a local ship captain, and more than 150 years later, the Allens are continuing yet another Mount Desert Island tradition.
Instagram Giveaway: Enter to Win a “Quiet Side” Vacation
The winners of our Instagram giveaway will receive a 2-night stay at the Harbour Cottage Inn in a Queen suite and 2 tickets for a morning nature cruise aboard the Sea Princess. The stay can be during a weekend or weeknights of your choice, pending availability! Participants must have an active Instagram account to enter.
Just three simple steps to enter to win:
- Follow @legacysir and @harbourcottageinn on Instagram
- Like our post about the giveaway on Instagram
- Comment on the Instagram post and tag your friend or partner you’d like to come along for the “Quiet Side” getaway!
The contest starts today, June 23, and will run through the weekend, with the pair of winners announced via Instagram on Monday, June 27. Good luck!