Great Diamond Island, Portland, Maine
For island getaways in New England, instincts typically turn to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. But head north, solitude-seeking traveler, to discover the many unspoiled islands off the coast of Maine—like Casco Bay’s Great Diamond Island, home to a year-round population of less than 100. A short ferry ride from the mainland, the tiny island is a former military base; the Inn at Diamond Cove, opening in June, rises from the rubble of historic army barracks. The inn was originally slated to open last year, but a fire in late 2013 razed the near-finished property. Developers salvaged as much of the structure as possible and sourced era-appropriate materials to rebuild the rest. Now the 44-room hotel, featuring bayside balconies and a heated pool with a cabana bar, will welcome guests to a virtually car-free island where vacationers spend lazy days sunning at the beach, traipsing miles of walking trails, sailing in and out of a full-service marina, hitting tennis courts or even playing some frames in a restored turn-of-the-century bowling alley with a handful of vintage arcade games. Here it’s all about peace, quiet and whiling away in an Adirondack chair. Summering on ACK is exciting, but sometimes you want to go where nobody knows your name. Cheers.
-Hungry? You’ll lunch on the lawn of the saltwater toffee-stocked Diamond Cove General Store, which offers a full-service cafe menu, and sup at the upscale-American Diamond’s Edge Restaurant. (Lobster bake, anyone?) But Portland is accessible enough for day trips and dining, and the island’s longer-stay guests also order food deliveries from mainland markets.
-Locals suggest catching the sunset from Moon Garden, a landscaped stone pier where you might spot an eagle, osprey or seal.
-For even more solitude, head an hour’s north of Portland to Southport, Maine. Off its coast is the Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse, housing two rentable suites inside a restored lighthouse. Splurging friends can claim both and have their own private island.