Bar Harbor’s Puffin and Lighthouse Cruise
Bar Harbor’s Puffin and Lighthouse Cruise is the perfect opportunity to get up close to some of the harbor’s lighthouses, wildlife, and get some great views of the Acadia National Park shoreline from the water. The three hourcruise is offered by the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co.
We luckily choose a beautiful day for the cruise in early August with warm temperatures, little wind, and lots of wildlife out and about! On our cruise we saw three lighthouses, some porpoise, bald eagles, seals, ospreys, and many other species of birds.
At 9:30am we started our journey on Bar Harbor’s Puffin and Lighthouse Cruise as we pulled away from Bar Harbor and headed towards our first stop, Egg Rock in Frenchman Bay. We were delighted by great views of the small, picturesque lighthouse and views of the many species of birds and seals that call the island home. The island is home to nesting colonies of cormorants and gulls.
Throughout the tour we have a very knowledgeable guide providing us with the history of the lighthouses we visited and pointed out all of the active wildlife that we saw.
Egg Rock Light sits on a 12.5 acre island that is part of the Maine Costal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Also on the island is a keeper’s house, fog signal house, oil house, boathouse, and generator house. The lighthouse was built in 1875 and remains active to this day.
We were able to see many harbor seals sunbathing on the rocks or taking a dip in the harbor water. I am still beating myself up to this day about forgetting my zoom lens, but I did capture some distant shots of the seals. The wildlife at Egg Rock was one of the highlights of Bar Harbor’s Puffin and Lighthouse Cruise.
The second stop was the Petit Manan Lighthouse. The lighthouse sits on Petit Manan island, another Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge island. Petit Manan Island is the last of a series of ledges extending out from Petit Manan Point.
The lighthouse was originally built in 1817 as a small stone lighthouse. It was replaced in 1855 with the current structure. The Petit Manan lighthouse is the second tallest lighthouse in Maine.
Fun Fact: The original lighthouse lens from Petit Manan is on display at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland.
The island is home to a nesting colony of Atlantic Puffins. There was one small group left when we visited as the majority had already begun their travels down South for the winter months. Other than the Puffins, the island is also home to razorbills, guillemonts, and Arctic terns.
During our visit we caught glimpses of the puffins floating in the waters just off shore of the island and occasionally taking a 360 flight around our boat.
We also saw a few harbor seals poking their heads up from under the water. Once again, I kicked myself for forgetting my zoom lens!
After visiting Petit Manan, our cruise continued on to Schoodic Island in Winter Harbor, the home of a family of Bald Eagles. Along the way we were treated to views of harbor porpoise diving in and out of the water and fisherman pulling up lobster traps.
Once we arrived to Schoodic Island we were able to see the eagle nest and a couple of Bald Eagles in the distance. In the image below you can see the eagle’s nest on a tree in about the center of the photo and then if you look to the right you can see a Bald Eagle sitting on top of a tree.
Our guide informed us that the Bald Eagles had had a successful breeding year and raised two Bald Eagle babies, both of which were seen on our visit.
Next we continued on with Bar Harbor’s Puffin and Lighthouses Cruise as we passed by the Schoodic Peninsula which gave us gorgeous views of the Acadia National Park shoreline. We then came upon the final lighthouse on the tour.
The last lighthouse that we visited was the Winter Harbor Light on Mark Island. The lighthouse was built in 1856 and deactivated in 1933. It is currently a privately owned residence.
After the Winter Harbor Light we continued on past the Porcupine Islands and a protected Osprey Nest. The ride back towards Bar Harbor was filled with more great scenery and wild life. We were delighted to watch more families of Harbor Porpoise’s flying through the water.
After this we made the trip back to Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor’s Puffins and Lighthouse Cruise was one of the highlights of our visit to Acadia National Park in Maine. I would recommend taking this tour or another similar tour to get this unique view of Bar Harbor.
- Adults (ages 15+): $54
- Children (ages 6-14): $27
- Children (5 and under): $14
The tour runs on select days from May to mid August. The tour generally leaves at 9:30am and lasts approximately three hours.
Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co.
The Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. offers plenty of other tours for you to get out onto the water and explore Bar Harbor, Winter Harbor, and the shorelines of Acadia National Park. Some of their other tours include:
- Whale Watching
- Somes Sound and Lighthouse Tour
- Mid-Coast Maine 16 Lighthouse Photography Tour
- Penobscot Bay, 15 Lighthouse, and Fall Foliage Tour
- Grand Slam US/Canada 18 Lighthouse Tour
What to Do in Bar Harbor
Visit Acadia National Park
When in Bar Harbor, be sure to leave at least a full day for exploring Acadia National Park. Acadia is the only national park in the northeast and is a must visit. You can spend the day hiking, driving park loop, driving to the top (or hiking) of Cadillac Mountain, walking Ocean Path, visiting Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond, and cooling off at Sand Beach.
Walk the Land Bridge to Bar Island
At low tide a land bridge will appear that visitors can walk, drive, or bike across to Bar Island. On the island visitors can enjoy a mile of hiking trails in a highly forested area with some great views of Frenchman Bay. If you choose to take this hike, be sure to pay attention to the tide and return before high tide (the bridge appears for about 3 hours). Be sure to bring a phone just in case you get stuck!
Stroll Main Street in Bar Harbor
Main Street is Bar Harbor is home to many unique, quaint shops perfect for finding the right souvenir to take home with you. Spend some time strolling the streets, grab a bite to eat, and walk along the pier.
Visit the Village Green
The village green is a great place to sit, relax, and enjoy the presence of Bar Harbor locals. If you are up for it, pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic on the lawn. The park is also home to the historic town clock. You may even find a live performance going on in the warmer months.
Sample Some Wine at the Bar Harbor Cellars Winery
Visit the Bar Harbor Cellars Winery for some free wine tasting, visit the gift shop, and stop at the Chocolate Room for some Maine-made treats.
Take a Culinary Walking Tour
Enjoy a taste of Maine with a culinary walking tour where you will experience a combination of uniquely Maine food samples from local businesses and local history and facts. The tour circles the village green and provides some great views of the harbor.
Wow, I’m impressed, this is such a cool cruise. Incredible piroda, water and sky are mesmerizing. Super!
You were so lucky to see the Puffins. We hoped to on the Outer Hebrides, but it was too late in the year. I love this kind of boat trip.
That is interesting. We used Bar Harbor as a jump-off point for Acadia NP. Good to know that there is so much to do in this beautiful town.
I am planning to go to Bar Harbor next year, and I will definitely check back to this post! The cruise tour sounds amazing. I can’t wait to photograph such a beautiful area!
The cruise tour looks amazing. And the lighthouse somehow reminds me of a similar one I saw in Aruba. Glad you had a great trip!
Cruise is something I would like to do someday and you have motivated me. Egg Rock lighthouse looks so photogenic. Would love to know more about Porcupine Island.
This part of Maine looks so beautiful. Will check it out on my next trip to the US
So number #1 rule of the Bar Harbor’s Puffins and Lighthouse Cruise….no it isn’t Dont Talk about Bar Harbor’s Puffins and Lighthouse Cruise Club…it is Bring Your Zoom Lens! haha. But seriously, what a fun adventure and very stereotypical New England in my brain to see all of the lighthouses! I love how each of them looked different and unique too!
I flipping love puffins! But you got to see harbour seals and eagles as well. This cruise sounds awesome! In some ways it is kind of cool that you didn’t have your lens so you could relax and watch them with your eyes…otherwise you may have spent the entire time attempting to take photos of them all…
Acadia National Park looks like a fabulous area to explore as well!
This is my kind of day trip and something I know my kids will absolutely love! The scenery and views are incredible. Saving this for my trip planning!
This seems like a dream activity for me! Animals and cruising? Incredible! I’ve always wanted to see a wild seal and puffin! Thank you for sharing, I’ll be adding this to my dream America itinerary