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Bar Harbor Shore Excursion Tips

Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor downtown. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Shore excursions in Bar Harbor, Maine, focus mainly on the natural attractions outside of the town.

Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island has a population of about 5,000 people. Cruise passengers will find that walking around the town doesn’t last long, so they instead may want to plan on touring the area.

The area is mostly known for Acadia National Park, which dominates the area around the cruise port with 49,000 acres and attracts 3.5 million visitors every year. Visitors especially will have many chances for nature photography.

A typical shore excursion to Acadia National Park includes three stops within the town of Bar Harbor and the National Park. Visitors can experience the views and wildlife that make Bar Harbor a popular New England cruise port. Stops include Cadillac Mountain, Sieur de Monts Spring and Thunder Hole. A typical tour lasts about two and a half hours; prices start at about $50.

Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Thunder Hole is a spot on the shoreline where waves explode high into the air. The incoming surf rolls large rounded boulders along the bottom of the channel. They create the thundering sound that gives the Hole its name.

Longer tours of Acadia are available at higher prices. Other variations may include lunch, the use of smaller vehicles and private tours.

Nature lovers also can view Acadia from the ocean. A nature cruise lasting two and a half hours will travel to the Schoodic Peninsula, which is the only part of Acadia that lies on the Main coastland. Views include lighthouses, bald eagles, harbor seals, porpoises, many seabirds, woodlands, rocky beaches, granite peaks and coastal mansions. Prices start at about $75.

Water lovers can spend two hours on a real schooner sailing ship outside of Bar Harbor. The schooner dock is a five-minute walk from the cruise ship tender pier. The cost is about $75, although discounts are sometimes available.

Whale watching tours are available starting at $79 per person. Tours take visitors 20 miles south of Bar Harbor to whale feeding grounds. This shore excursion lasts about three and a half hours.

Golfers can practice their game at Kebo Valley Golf Course, the eighth oldest course in the United States. The course first opened in 1888. This four-hour, 18-hole short excursion will cost about $149. Transfer to and from the golf course, green fees, golf cart rental and tee time are part of the price.

Maine is known for its lobster fishing, and cruise visitors can try it themselves. A three-hour shore excursion for $142 will allow passengers to spend time on a working lobster boat, watch fishermen pull traps and talk with a marine biologist. After sightseeing, passengers will attend a lobster bake.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
August 19, 2022

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