Swan’s Island unofficial motto is “6 miles east of ordinary.” It is one of three year-round island communities located off the coast of Mount Desert Island, along with neighbor Frenchboro, and the Cranberry Isles to the northeast. The island is the traditional territory of the Penobscot people. Colonizers renamed the island after Col. James Swan in the 1700s. While there is no single town center, there are points of interest across the island from three previous distinct villages: Swan’s Island, Minturn, and Atlantic.


  • Swan’s Island Educational
  • Society Swan’s Island Library
  • Swan’s Island Historical Society
  • Swan’s Island Lobster and Marine
  • Museum • Burnt Coat Harbor Light
  • Baird’s Quarry Pond]
  • Mill Pond Health Center
  • Mill Pond Park
  • Mill Pond Health Center
  • Three churches of different Christian denominations
  • The Carrying Place and fine sand beach
  • Miles of hiking trails

Swan's Island Population


The island economy revolves around lobster fishing, with several active wharves and a fishing co-op supporting a fleet of 65 boats. Swan’s Island has its own lobster zone. Clamming, locally grown shellfish, kelp aquaculture businesses, and a sea salt company are based in the waters around the island. The school is a major employer on the island, and many others work in construction—including several local contractors and those who come from the mainland daily. Tourism is primarily through Airbnb rentals or a local real estate agent, although there is one four-unit motel on the island. Several small seasonal businesses are located in Atlantic and elsewhere on the island.


Swan’s Island has a K–8 school that is part of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System AOS– 91. The town also runs a nursery school. The school classrooms are multi-age with Grades K–2, 3–5, and 6–8 being combined. After eighth grade, students commute to the mainland and have a choice of schools, though most choose to attend Mount Desert Island High School. While most students commute daily on the ferry, some board in nearby Southwest Harbor or other towns on Mount Desert Island to participate more fully in extracurricular activities.

Swan's Island Schools

Swan's Island Occupation



Mill Pond Health Center
The Health Center offers a variety of social, healthcare, and preventative services provided by visiting doctors and telemedicine capability. Visiting healthcare professionals also include a dentist, podiatrist, and nurse practitioner. The center hosts Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous support groups, exercise classes, and coffee hours. It is the base of operations for the Eldercare Outreach of Swan’s Island, which stores durable medical equipment available to borrow.

The Island Market & Supply (TIMS)
A 600-square-foot shed houses all the basic staples and a few treats for islanders—including birthday candles, cleaning supplies, light blubs, and TIMS T-shirts and hats. TIMS runs a seasonal take-out counter on Fridays. It’s also known as a spot to meet neighbors, hear the latest news, and pick up packages. The owners of the store, Brian and Kathy Krafjack, also run a sister company, Swan’s Island Freight, also known as Hopkins Freight, which hauls the mail, UPS, and FedEx packages, as well as personal freight for residents.

Volunteer Fire and EMS Services
Swan’s Island Fire Department and EMS (emergency medical services) are staffed by an EMS director and fire chief, who both receive an annual stipend. Fire fighters are all volunteer, and EMS responders—two of whom are certified drivers—receive a small stipend per emergency run completed. They collectively respond to dozens of emergencies throughout the year. This includes triaging transport for the most serious cases via an emergency ferry run or LifeFlight helicopter service.

There are two fire stations on the island. The newest, best equipment and ambulance reside in the station in Atlantic. The other station in Swan’s Island village houses the older equipment, less used equipment.

How to get there

Swan’s Island is served by the Maine State Ferry Service, with the M/V Captain Henry Lee car ferry departing from a terminal in Bass Harbor on Mount Desert Island. It takes approximately 30 minutes to cross the six miles between terminals. Swan’s Island shares a ferry boat with Frenchboro, so the time and number of trips varies throughout the week and season.


Meghan Grabill: mgrabill@islandinstitute.org

With gratitude to our community reviewers: Karen Griffin, Gwen J. May, Tammy Tripler, and Donna Wiegle.

Telling stories of island and coastal life