Whaleboat Island, Harpswell
The largest wild island in Casco Bay, Whaleboat’s scenic campsites, rocky shoreline, gravel beaches, and expansive meadow invite endless exploration.
Whaleboat is great for:
- Camping – Watch the sunset over Casco Bay from one of the island’s three campsites! Scroll down to learn more.
- Birding – Visit during the spring or fall migrations when raptors, songbirds, and shorebirds are most plentiful.
- Picnicking – The meadow in the center of the island offers fantastic views, which include shots of Mount Washington on clear days.
How to get there
Whaleboat Island is located west of Harpswell Neck in Casco Bay. The closest public boat ramp is the Mere Point launch in Brunswick, just over 5 miles to the north-northeast. (Please note that as of June 2021 overnight parking is no longer allowed at Mere Point.) A private boat ramp at the Dolphin Marina in Harpswell is also available, roughly one mile to the southeast.
Overnight parking is not allowed without permission of the Brunswick Marine Resource Officer.
For a complete map with legend and guidelines, click on the Printable Preserve Map above.
Whaleboat Island has three established campsites:
All beaches and trails remain open to the public regardless of camping activity and reservations.
Meadow. Located just inland from a shallow cove on the southeastern shore, the Meadow is a beautiful place to picnic or camp in the open. If it is windy or rainy, this site offers no protection, and there is little privacy from other visitors. Small boats can land on the gravel beach in the cove at mid-high tide, and larger boats will need to anchor just outside the cove. Please note that the cove is exposed to southern winds, the bottom drops off quickly, and there are ledges to look out for–take care on a breezy day. The Meadow site is first come, first served. Groups larger than 10 please contact MCHT for permission before camping.
Northern Site. Nestled in the woods along the northwestern shore, just north and inland from the red #2 channel marker, the Northern Site is mostly forested and offers a fire pit and a few grassy patches for campers to set up tents. This site is first come, first served, and best for groups up to 6.
Group site (by reservation). The Group Site is located a little farther north along the shore from the Northern Site, just inland from a subtle dogleg in the shoreline. There is anchorage just north of an all-tide gravel beach. This site is available by reservation only and is best suited for commercially guided groups. This Group Site offers 5-6 private places to set up tents (though the ground is a little uneven in places). You can reserve this site online.
Notes on topography, flora & fauna
A grassy meadow and dense shrubland separate wind-ravaged spruce forest at either end of the island. The island’s uplands are bordered by cobble beaches, fringing salt marsh, ledges, and dramatic cliffs. There are no trails on the island, but hikers can follow the rocky shoreline during low tide.
How this place became open to the public
The island’s former owners protected Whaleboat through the donation of two conservation easements. In 2002, they sold the island to MCHT to ensure it would remain an undeveloped island and be open to the public in perpetuity. MCHT was able to purchase the entire 122-acre island thanks to generous donations from area residents and support from the state’s Land for Maine’s Future program.
This place belongs to all of us. Please help us care for it!
- Camp at Established Campsites
- Limit Stay to 2 Nights
- Use of Northern Site by Reservation Only
- Groups Larger than 10 (Meadow Site) or 6 (North Site) and Commercial Users by Permission Only. Please call 207-729-7366.
- Fires by Permit Only – Maine State Law
- Visit wardensreport.com for permit
- Keep All Fires Below High Tide Line (With the Exception of the Fire Pit at the Northern Camp Site)
- Do Not Cut or Break Tree Limbs, Dead or Alive
- Leave No Fire Unattended
- Completely Extinguish All Fires
- Carry Out All Trash
- Including Human and Pet Waste and Toilet Paper
- Keep Pets Under Control