North Haven is located in Penobscot Bay with 12 square miles of land. The island is the traditional territory of the Penobscot people, and was colonized by Europeans in the 1760s. North Haven was originally the North Island of Vinalhaven, and gained its independence on July 13, 1847, becoming North Haven. Today there is both a thriving year-round and summer population on the island.


  • Ames Knob
  • Burnt Island
  • Community Days
  • Farmers Market
  • Kate’s Donuts
  • The Fresh Pond
  • Mullen’s Head Park
  • North Haven Historical Society
  • North Haven Conservation Partners Trails
  • North Haven Clinic
  • North Haven Public Library
  • Waterman’s Community Center

North Haven - Year-round population


The primary industries on North Haven are currently carpentry, caretaking, fishing, farming, and teaching. Carpentry is the dominant industry, with lobster fishing following close behind. Many residents are employed as both builders and fishermen. Historically North Haven was known as the farming island because of its flat and fertile ground, with hay being a staple crop for many years. North Haven supplied Boston with produce and lamb via steamships. Today there are seven working farms, but farming is no longer the primary industry on the island.


North Haven Community School (NHCS) is Maine’s smallest K–12 public school. To boost the high school population, it started a residential magnet school program in 2016. Students can participate in a variety of traditional academic offerings and extracurriculars
building on local opportunities. Classes include AP and dual enrollment college courses, as well as wilderness expeditions, personalized research projects, marine mammal skeleton rearticulation, carpentry, small engine repair, and visual and performing arts. NHCS students have the opportunity to explore 3D printing, work studies, the Eastern Maine Skippers Program, and can perform in a full season of theater and music offerings. Varsity sports include cross country, track and field, rowing, and basketball.

School Year - North Haven

North Haven - Occupation


Sustainable Housing

Affordable year-round housing is a persistent challenge on North Haven. North Haven Sustainable Housing (NHSH), a not-for- profit organization, was established in 2005 to help alleviate the problem through new construction and renovation of existing structures, which were offered to year-round community members meeting certain criteria to purchase or rent. NHSH has currently housed six island families; collaborated with Southern Harbor Eldercare Services to purchase and repurpose what is now their eldercare facility; performed energy audits and efficiency upgrades for nearly fifty buildings; and is nearing completion on two additional renovated houses. All homes purchased through NHSH can only be resold under a covenant that they remain in the year-round community.

Sustainable Energy

In 2009, the Fox Islands Electric Co-op installed three 1.5MW wind turbines on Vinalhaven, which generate a significant portion of Vinalhaven’s and North Haven’s electricity use.

Elder Care

Southern Harbor House is a level III residential care facility serving the community of North Haven. The facility, located in a spacious yellow house overlooking Southern Harbor, can house up to six residents at a time, and employs several islanders as coordinators, administrators, and direct caregivers. Southern Harbor House was founded with the intent of allowing islanders to “age in place,” rather than moving to the mainland to receive care. Residents often collaborate with the preschool and Waterman’s Community Center for programming, and the facility features extensive gardens and a flock of chickens.


North Haven’s roads not only link the community together, but provide walking, biking, and running opportunities in a spectacularly scenic setting. The island also boasts a substantial number of maintained hiking trails, and, in Mullen’s Head Park, a beautiful municipal asset with beaches, picnic areas, trails, and a campground. For the slightly more intrepid, hikers can also cross to Burnt Island at low tide and hike the trail around the 80-acre island. Burnt Island itself has beaches and a town float available to recreational boaters during the summer.

How to get there

The Maine State Department of Transportation operates a ferry service three times daily from the Midcoast town of Rockland, at 9:30 AM, 2:20 PM and 5:15 PM. The Captain Neal Burgess makes the trip in about an hour in calm waters. The Burgess can transport 17 passenger cars and 221 people.

In addition to the Maine State Ferry Service, Equinox Island Transport can carry individuals or groups by boat. Air service to North Haven is available through Penobscot Island Air.


Meghan Grabill: mgrabill@islandinstitute.org

With gratitude to our community reviewers: Rick Lattimer and Courtney Naliboff

Telling stories of island and coastal life