George

As the end of the school year approached, Linda started hoping for an island-hopping adventure, but because she was too busy to write about it, she asked me to tackle this column by myself. It wasn’t hard to do, given all the islands we’ve visited and loved, from Portland to Canada.

Peaks Island, Portland

The Inn on Peaks Island was the first place we visited enroute to the start of this travel column five years ago and we fell in love with the inn and the island. We’ve visited in frigid weather in November and beautiful spring weather in May. It’s a great getaway anytime of year.

Just a 15-minute ferry ride from the dock on Commercial Street in Portland, the island is in another world. We walk, we bird, we feast and, best of all, we relax. The inn offers luxurious rooms, great food and (of course) great microbrews from Shipyard, whose owner, Fred Forsley, also owns the inn.

Monhegan

We were too busy this year to do our traditional Mother’s Day weekend on Monhegan for the spring migration of birds, and boy, did we ever miss it. We’re hoping to get out there in September.

We stay at the Shining Sails Bed and Breakfast in the spring. Owners John and Winnie Murdock are wonderful hosts and also book rentals for 35 cottages and four apartments. Last year, on Sunday morning before breakfast, we saw 16 different species of warblers — right behind the inn! We stay in a nice apartment that includes a kitchen, because at that time of year, nothing is open on the island.

We returned last fall for our first — but not our last — visit to the Island Inn, standing at the top of the knoll with stunning views, 32 rooms and a really good restaurant. It was fun to see the island bustling and busy. We enjoyed lunch at Barnacles, enjoyed a microbrew at Monhegan Brewing Company and shopped at Winter Works, featuring the work of local artists and crafts people. Our dinner at the inn was memorable.

The Barstows of Monhegan Boat Line in Port Clyde will get you to Monhegan, but you should also join them for a puffin cruise this summer. It’s tons of fun!

North Haven

Nebo Lodge has nice rooms, but it’s the restaurant that really draws a crowd. Boatloads of folks ride over from Rockland just to eat dinner there. The lodge is owned by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and managed by her daughter Hannah, former speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.

Hannah invited us to visit, when I saw her one day in the spring of 2013 at the State House, but it took us until their final weekend of the season at the end of October to get there because they were full right through September. We borrowed Hannah’s truck and drove all over this big island, especially enjoying a tour of Chellie’s farm, an impressive place that hosts dinners during the summer.

The inn’s chef, North Haven native Amanda Hallowell, is widely recognized and stories about her have been published in many magazines. Our dinner put her right at the top of our favorite chefs. We appreciated the fact she offers “Light Suppers” featuring tacos and burgers, as well as her more creative dishes. My island-raised beef dish — rosemary-grilled ribeye steak served with a bright Italian salsa — was extraordinary.

Swan’s Island

The Maine State Ferry at Bass Harbor will deliver you to an unusual island adventure here. And you’ll want your vehicle because this is a big island with no public transportation. We are forever indebted to Candi Joyce, an island native, who is the librarian and an enthusiastic ambassador, for inviting me to give a book talk here last August.

Although the island is not really set up for tourists — making it extra special perhaps — it delivers a very real island experience. We loved Nancy Carter and her Carter House Bed and Breakfast. She’s got just two rooms, but both are elegant. Nancy grew up on the island and the B&B was her grandfather’s house. Sitting on the deck, enjoying the stunning view and visiting with Nancy were highlights of our trip.

With breakfast at the Tea Room, dinner at Appy’s and two meals at The Island Market, we experienced every eatery on the island. A hike to and picnic at Fine Sand Beach was really special.

Campobello

Regular readers of this column know that Lubec and Campobello are our homes-away-from-home. Campobello is a Canadian island so you will need your passport to enjoy this amazing place. For many years we’ve stayed in one of Rob and Diane Lahey’s two-story cabins at Island Chalet, each perched on the shore with a living room, full kitchen and two bedrooms.

We enjoy early morning walks right from our cabin into the spectacular Roosevelt International Park, with many gorgeous beaches and picnic spots where quite often we are the only ones on the beach. Just amazing. Go whale watching with Island Cruises, eat in one of Lubec’s restaurants (the Water Street Tavern and Frank’s Dockside are our favorites) and don’t miss the lighthouses at East and West Quoddy.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed in the “Best of Maine” section.

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