Mount Desert Island
As home to the lion’s share of Acadia National Park, many visitors are unaware that Mount Desert Island has a rich history, established culture and thriving economy all its own. MDI – as it’s known locally – is the sixth largest island in the contiguous United States, and the third largest on its eastern seaboard. Based on a solid foundation of Somesville and Cadillac Mountain granite, revealed and shaped by the retreating Laurentide Ice Sheet at the end of the Pleistocene age, MDI covers more than of 108 square miles – an area smaller than Long Island, but larger than Martha’s Vineyard.
With a local population of approximately 10,000, MDI’s population swells in the summer, as visitors arrive to investigate the beauty of Acadia, and “summer people,” including Martha Stewart and an assortment of Rockefeller heirs return to their elegant summer cottages.
Mount Desert Island owes its name to French Explorer Samuel de Champlain, who reflected on the Island’s treeless mountain summits and named it “Ile de Monts Deserts,” which, in translation, means “island of the bare mountains.” Measuring in at 1532 feet high, Cadillac Mountain is MDI’s highest point – and the first place in the continental United States to welcome the sunrise each day.
In addition to Acadia, MDI’s primary attraction, the island is home to several small, but memorable towns. Bar Harbor, once the exclusive summer playground of wealthy socialites from New York and Boston, has evolved to become a thriving summer town for vacationers from around the world. Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor and Bass Harbor, all smaller towns on the island, each offer unique charms, from boutiques and galleries to fine dining and lodging – all nestled in MDI’s natural beauty.