Porcupine Islands on the coast of Maine

Porcupine Islands

The Porcupine Islands directly east of the Bar Harbor Public Pier and Shore Path are centerpieces of almost every photograph taken and every memory remembered of visits to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park in Maine. The rising sun sets the scene aglow each morning and a more subtle warmth as the sun approaches a sundown in the West. This is the playground of almost every kayaker who comes to this part of the coast. It is almost like being a new-world explorer in a new and exotic land. Four of the five islands are owned by the National Park System. Burnt Porcupine Island still remains privately owned.

The islands are referred to as an archipelago, a group of islands, or a stretch of ocean where there are several islands. This fits the situation with Bar Island, Sheep Porcupine, Burnt Porcupine, Long Porcupine, and Bald Porcupine. It is like a playground or Disney World for kayakers where light, shadow and wildlife interplay in a daily ritualistic dance of nature.

Islands in the Sea:

The big and surprising news here is revealed by the map, especially the larger one accessed by clicking on the smaller one and viewed on a larger monitor. Note where the Porcupine Islands are relative to Bar Harbor. They are right next to the shore. Now, look all the way to the upper right. Gouldsboro center is basically out-of-sight on the smaller map. The islands, all the way to the left of West including Bar Island, are within Gouldsboro. At one point, Bar Harbor did try and get ownership of Bar Island but it was refused. The first settlement in Gouldsboro was actually in West Gouldsboro on the west coast of the peninsula. Parts of Gouldsboro, and several of the islands, were annexed in 1895 and became Winter Harbor.

Gouldsboro History Down East Expression

Location map of Burnt Porcupine Island in Gouldsboro, Maine


  • Gouldsboro Town Office: (207) 963-5589
    Town Manager, 59 Main St., Prospect Harbor, ME 04669
  • Gouldsboro Historical Society: Website
  • Bar Harbor, Maine

Photographic Opportunities

Greg A. Hartford, photographer, author, publisherThe Porcupine Islands provide numerous opportunities a backdrops to passing lobster boats, kayakers, or even cruise ships that offer a wonderful comparison of size. I suggest to not be satisfied with just one or two vantage points. Do not always point the camera at the sun rising. Try angles that are perpendicular to the sun. This often provides the best lighting because it increases contrast that enhances the 3-dimensional look. It also avoids lens flare. Walk around a bit. Try even views looking in the opposite directions. Great surprises often come to those who experiment with different angles of view.

Acadia and Bar Harbor Resource Guide