Matinicus Isle is the most remote year-round island in Maine, located 20 miles off Owls Head in the Midcoast. The name Matinicus means “far-out island” in Abenaki, and Penobscot People used the island while fishing and sealing. Europeans first established a permanent settlement on the island in 1750, despite objections from the Penobscot. Today, fishing is still a central part of island activity, operating out of a harbor with a breakwater and a public wharf.
Matinicus is officially a “plantation,” a Maine-specific, organized form of municipal self-government, similar to but with some differences from a town or city. Plantations, for example, cannot make local ordinances.
- Steamboat Wharf, a publicly accessible ferry landing
- Two sandy beaches
- One-room library with wi-fi access
- Post office
- Power station generating electricity for the island
- Church, with visiting pastors
- Historical Society
- 4th of July Parade
- Year-round recycling program
Most Matinicus residents are self- employed, with fishing and construction being the most common industries. The community has some workforce housing, primarily for people sterning on lobster boats. The cost of living can be significantly higher than on the mainland, as groceries and other supplies are often transported by plane and electricity is generated with diesel.
Matinicus has a one-room island
school that is overseen by a part-time superintendent and a three-person school board. As of fall 2020, the school has no enrolled students but stands ready to hire a teacher and welcome children as needed. The island has a growing group of children approaching school age.
Without a grid tie to the mainland, the Matinicus Plantation Electric Company generates all the island’s electricity with diesel fuel. The community has been exploring alternatives, including solar and battery storage. Islanders have also reduced their electricity and heating use though community-wide initiatives for weatherization and lighting upgrades. Matinicus has high-speed internet on the island, including wi-fi access at the library. The Matinicus Island Airport’s 1,645 foot runway was completely rebuilt in 2012, through a combination of local funding and state grants. The runway is usable year round, and permission is needed to land. There is an Automated Weather Observing Station (AWOS) at the airport.
HOW TO GET THERE
Matinicus Island can be reached by sea or air. The island is serviced by the Maine State Ferry Service, which operates the vehicle ferry M/V Everett Libby between Rockland and Matinicus, a 23-mile trip taking 2 hours and 15 minutes. During the winter, the ferry crosses once per month, and increases to roughly four times a month during the summer. The ferry returns to Rockland within about an hour of arrival on most days. Be sure to check the most recent online schedule. Captain George Tarkleson of Matinicus Excursions offers the quickest water trips between Rockland and Matinicus with his boat Robin R, which takes under an hour and a half, and can carry up to 16 people. Penobscot Island Air also services the island year-round, nearly daily ten-minute flights from Knox County Regional Airport.
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With gratitude to our community reviewers: Carley Feibusch, Mott Feibusch, and Tara Hire