We were eager Monday morning to be able to start our journey into Acadia despite the early morning fog. It turns out this area has a pretty amazing public transit system… that is FREE! When checking in we were given a schedule for the various bus routes. There was a bus that would come right by the front of our campground and connect with Bar Harbor. From there we could catch various busses to take us to different locations on the island. Apparently before the bus system was put into place the traffic was horrible getting from point to point on the island. Honestly even with the the buses doing their regular run I was amazed (though it wasn’t really a surprise) as to the amount of traffic and people that visit this amazing park. Some place were down right crowded and it could be hard to find a quiet spot to take in the amazing scenery (and get a good picture of it) without a crowd nearby.
We decided to use the shuttle bus service to save us from having to find parking so Monday morning at 8:58am we caught the bus. The first line took us into Bar Harbor and then we caught the number three route to hit some of the locations along the coast.
First stop was Sand Beach. This location is one of the few sandy beaches along the coast of Mount Desert Island. It is very popular with those looking to get some ocean swim time in while vacationing here. You must be warned though, the water temperature coming in from the Atlantic is extremely chilly, though we did made it a point to get our feet wet anyway. One thing that has amazed me at a number of places where we’ve been near the water is how clear the water is. Now it’s not as good as we experienced in St. John a while back but I was shocked how far out you can gaze and still see the bottom of the water.
After having our fill of the ever increasing population of Sand Beach we decided to move on, next stop Thunder Hole. Now to be fair, we didn’t give this popular destination a real chance. You’re suppose to visit this spot when the tide is coming in, and preferably a storm as well so that the sea’s are a bit rougher. When you have those conditions, the unique inlet section of this part of the rocky coast traps air and water to create a thunderous sound, and shoots water high into the air. Sadly when we were there the tides were receding and it was more of a murmuring hole then anything else.
Instead of taking the bus to the next stop we decided to walk the half mile or so to Otter Cliffs. The hike down proved to be lots of fun with beautiful rocky coast much like we had found the night before at Schoodic Point. The kids loved being out on the rocks and again quickly got Wendy and my hearts beating faster by pushing the limits of what we found comfortable from a safety standpoint. Otter Cliffs is a section in the south east corner of the island where the rocky coast becomes sheer cliffs. It is quite striking, and terrifying at the same time. There were a couple outfitters there that had groups they were taking out to do some rock climbing and repelling. It looked like a lot of fun but that would have to be something I did solo, or maybe with Sam after he is a good bit older.
Next stop (which did require a bus ride) was the Sieur de Monts Spring. This location is home to the original Acadia water spring, in fact there was a newer section where the active springs were producing incredibly clear, and COLD, water. Also at this location was the Acadia Gardens where there were extensive examples of the various plants that grew on the island. Of particular interest was the numerous fern variations.
Now a visit to Acadia isn’t complete without spending time in Bar Harbor, so we finished our day there walking around downtown. The most interesting thing we witnessed there was the sand bar that connects Bar Harbor to Bar Island. This sand bar is completely above water and walkable during low tide but then becomes fully covered with water when the tides are in. We walked the bar a bit, then went and had dinner in a bar. Honestly though it was in fact a good to honest bar we went to, the character and food were great!
Bar Harbor is very charming, the homes are lovely and everything is well manicured, however it is really just one big tourist trap. Tons of shops, restaurants, and activities all looking to relieve you of that hard earned cash.
By the time we managed to get back to the campground we were quite tired and happy to be back after the nine hour outing. Time to get some sleep though because tomorrow we are out early to get some biking in on the famous Carriage Roads of Acadia!