There aren’t many locations along the Maine rocky coastline that can boast of quiet, private beaches like the Hermit Island Maine Campground. Generations of families come to Hermit Island each summer, attesting to the truly special nature of one of the best campgrounds in Maine.
Situated just south of Phippsburg, Maine, Hermit Island Campground sits on over 250 acres of wooded peninsula. While not technically an island, Hermit Island is separated from the Maine coast by just a narrow sandy causeway. Here you will find quiet ocean camping, Maine style. Listen to the waves at night from your campsite, and watch the lobster boats head out to sea while walking the beach in the morning.
Unique Family Maine Campground
The quiet of the campground is largely attributed to only tent and pop up campers allowed. You won’t hear the hum of any generators. The entire campground is only open to registered campers, so the beaches and trails are emptier than what you would find at other Maine locations.
If you don’t camp with your own posse of family and friends, rest assured that your children will meet plenty of others. Kids have a blast walking and biking the roads through the campsites, getting to experience a little more independence than what they’re probably used to at home.
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How to Get There
Campgrounds in Maine on the ocean are not common, so you’ll be traveling North past Portsmouth, NH and Portland, ME to get to Hermit Island. Beware that I-95 through southern New Hampshire and Maine often backs up with traffic during summer travel season. Plan accordingly if you would like to avoid adding hours to your trip!
Travel time to Hermit Island Campground:
- From Brunswick, Maine: 35 minutes
- From Portland, Maine: 1 hour
- From Portsmouth, New Hampshire: 2 hours
- From Boston, Massachusetts: 3 hours
Types of Campsites
Campsites at Hermit Island are classifieds into four different types: Value, Choice, Prime, and Ocean Prime. The best views and proximity to the beaches are with the Ocean Prime sites. Distance to the beach increases with Prime, followed by Choice, then Value.
Find a map of all the campsites, plus pictures of individual sites at the Hermit Island Campground campsites page.
- Ocean Prime– sites are along the sand dunes of Sand Dune Beach and West Dune Beach, or on the cliffs above Sunset Lagoon and Osprey Point. If you are choosing a site on the dunes, be prepared for sand camping with potential for higher wind due to exposure.
- Prime- sites are just one row back from the Ocean Prime sites. No stunning ocean view, but you are just a few steps from the ocean.
- Choice- sites are just a 5-10 minute walk to the beach, but you can still hear occasional waves crashing and ocean buoy bells.
- Value- sites are the farthest from the beach, but still within a 15 minute walk. Pack wheeled gear carriers or strollers for babies/toddlers to make trips to the beach pleasant.
There are three different cabins at Hermit Island Campgrounds that can be rented out: Hermit Island Cottage, Log Cabin, and Sou’wester. As expected, cabin reservations are competitive.
Find Hermit Island cabin rental details and pricing here.
There are a few different deadlines for making reservations each year depending on your length of stay at Hermit Island. The antiquated reservation system of Hermit Island could be frustrating for some, or exciting for all who embrace the excitement of the January lottery system!
January 1st: Mail your reservation in for week + long bookings (and Memorial Day, Labor Day weekends) to arrive before January 1st. Staff begins opening letters and assigning sites after the New Year. You will receive a letter in the mail with your site assignment and confirmation.
February 1st: Hermit Island staff begins taking reservations by phone for week + long bookings. Reservations are still accepted by mail. It is wonderful to be able to talk with the staff and choose your site over the phone, but it could take days of calling to get through. The phone lines are that busy!
March 1st: Reservations for less than a week long booking are accepting via phone or mail.
Rates vary depending on your site choice, and in season/off season. In Season runs from mid-June through Labor Day, plus Memorial Day weekend. Off Season runs from mid-May to mid-June, and after Labor Day.
In Season Rates:
- Ocean Prime: $70 (Sun-Thurs) and $73 (Fri/Sat)
- Prime: $62 (Sun-Thurs) and $66 (Fri/Sat)
- Choice: $49 (Sun-Thurs) and $52 (Fri/Sat)
- Value: $45 (Sun-Thurs) and $49 (Fri/Sat)
Off Season Rates: $43 for all sites. First come, first served site selection.
Full details on site reservations can be found on the Hermit Island Reservation Page
When you choose the camping Maine coast experience, you will most likely be prioritizing beautiful beaches for most of your stay. Rest assured, there are plenty of things to do at Hermit Island in addition to beach time.
The Maine coast has beautiful beaches perfect for lounging, swimming, sand castle building, or tide pooling. The rocky shore around Hermit Island is full of shallow tide pools, brimming with ocean life to discover at low tide. They are sure to entertain children to adults for hours a day!
- Head Beach is accessed outside of the private Hermit Island Campground, just as you are crossing over to the peninsula. Head Beach is open to the public with a day use fee, so will be a bit more congested than the private beaches of the campground.
- Sand Dune and West Dune are the main beaches, and largest of the private beaches. Both are within walking distance from all the campsites. The two beaches are separated by a low rocky outcropping with a path crossing over the top.
- The Bath Tub is a unique, narrow cut into the shore that is full of water at high tide, but empty and sandy at low tide. The steep, rocky walls on either side make for cliff jumping at high tide. At low tide there are plenty of tide pools to explore.
- Lagoon Beach is a small beach overlooking Sunset Lagoon. It’s a fun new place to explore during the day, but as guessed, it’s west facing shore makes for a wonderful place to watch sunset.
- Sailboat Beach and Sand Dollar Beach sit on the north end of the Hermit Island peninsula. They are accessed by the main Island Road, or by trail.
- Spring Beach is a small beach, close to the northern tip of the peninsula. It is only accessible by trail, and thus usually quiet.
Small boat use is gaining popularity around Hermit Island, and you will often see many kayaks and small sailboats off the shore during the day. Small boats are welcome at the campground, with boats ramps available for camper use. Kayaks and paddleboards are available to rent on site.
There are five different short trails in the northern, unpopulated sections of the campground. Trails leave from the campsites and head along the rocky coastline and towards Spring Beach, then Sailboat Beach, and finally Sand Dollar Beach. While the trails are too rocky for strollers or young toddlers, they are suitable for active children on up.
With a classic Maine name, the Kelp Shed is the center of activity at check in, on rainy days, and for kids and teens looking to escape their parents. Check in/check out is located at the front of the Kelp Shed. In the back is the snack bar which serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and ice cream. Inside there are a few arcade style games, with a sand volleyball pit outside.
On rainy days the Kelp Shed maintains a fire in the fireplace, with plenty of seating for those who need to warm up or dry out. There are also notices of nature walks and other events.
Nearby Bath and Freeport, Maine
If you don’t have a chance to visit the nearby towns on your way to and from Hermit Island Campground, save these spots for rainy day activities. Or take a day to explore beyond Hermit Island to Popham Beach State Park, just 15 minutes away.
Bath, Maine is a 30 minute drive from the campground. Spend a rainy day indoors at the Maine Maritime Museum.
Take a look at all the Bath activities here.
Freeport, Maine is a 45 minute drive from the campground, and well known as the headquarters of the camping store, LL Bean. There are abundant outlet stores for indoor shopping, as well as a few historic museums.
Full listings of all the Freeport activities here.
The Camp Store at Hermit Island stocks a wide variety of popular items including hot coffee in the mornings, bagged ice, and even live Maine lobsters. Buy your firewood here for campfires.
For larger and more economical provisioning runs, head into Bath to the large Shaw’s Grocery Store, just 30 minutes away from the campground.
Phippsburg Maine Weather
There’s a good chance you can see spring, summer, or fall weather during the Hermit Island camping season! Historically, lows average in the high 50’s (F) throughout the summer. Highs average into the low 80’s (F).
When camping the Maine coast, be prepared with beach clothing, summer clothing, rain gear, pants, and sweatshirts. With or without rain, the nights feel chilly and you’ll likely want pants/long sleeves for mosquito protection in the evenings.
Essential Gear List
The right gear makes every camping trip a lot more enjoyable. Hauling items to and from the beach during the day can be a chore if you do not have a Prime site. In the evening, protection from the relentless mosquitoes can be difficult if you’re camping without a screen house.
Each campsite comes with a large, sturdy picnic table and is close to a potable water source. A lot of campers set up a nearly complete kitchen for their week at Hermit Island. Bring what you need to feel comfortable, and here are a few gear reminders that we find essential.
Screen houses are life savers in the evenings (prime mosquito time), or on rainy days. Purchase a larger footprint screen house so you can fit your picnic table inside.
Beach cart: Hauling sand toys, coolers, and other gear to the beach can be a drag if your site is more than a few minutes away. An investment in a beach cart helps keep the beach fun for parents too!
Water jugs: You’ll end up hauling a fair bit of water back to your site for cooking, dishes, and general clean up. We find these expandable water jugs perfect for the job, while not taking up valuable packing space.
Bug protection: Mosquitoes are practically the state bird in Maine, and can be a real negative for camping if you’re not prepared. We love Badger bug spray since it is non-toxic and organic. You need to re-apply more often, but that’s a better option for us than chemical DEET. Try their bug spray for general use, or their bug balm for little hands to still get great mosquito coverage.
The Maine Coast is Waiting!
Come join so many other families who make the Hermit Island Maine Campground a yearly tradition. Have you been to Hermit Island, or are you planning a trip? Let us know in the comments.
Loving coastal camping on the East coast, and want to keep exploring? Camping at Assateague Island Maryland is a close second to Hermit Island!
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This article was first published in February, 2019 and updated recently in June, 2021.