Detailing one traveler’s favorite photo ops along the way
Often when planning a visit to a national park, the task of navigating and choosing the perfect pit stops and photo ops can feel daunting if you only have a day to explore.
Such is not the case when visiting Acadia National Park in Maine. The free shuttle bus, Island Explorer, can be boarded at Bar Harbor Village Green, just blocks away from the port — making traversing the park manageable and stress-free. Keeping in mind we needed to be back on ship in the late afternoon, we decided to keep our stops semi-local, as we did not want to spend most of our visit in transit.
The #3 bus loop, “Sand Beach,” is the perfect circuit that will have you directly on the coast, as well as hiking the hilltops. While the bus makes stops at all the iconic spots, walking between them is both easy and pleasant, as well-marked trails run throughout the area. Acadia National Park is a treasure trove of memories that are, quite literally, picture-perfect. Here are my favorite stops for getting an amazing view of the stunning fall foliage.
The first stop on the #3 bus loop is North Ridge. Stop here if you are looking for a gorgeous hike. The trailhead is just off the stop, and it will guide you up the mountain, giving you a bird’s-eye view of the coastal terrain. As you climb boulders and move through a canopy of red, orange and yellow leaves, don’t forget to stop and enjoy the view. Certain spots provide a clearing straight to the sea and, if you’re lucky, you might be able to spot your Seabourn ship.
Hop back on the bus and go two more stops to Sand Beach. Here an easy trail takes you straight to the water’s edge. This is one of the few places where a sandy beach can be enjoyed, as much of the coast is rocky.
While you can catch the bus to the next stop, I’d suggest walking the coastal trail that is easily marked upon departing Sand Beach. This walk will grant you impressive views with several options to get closer to the coastal landscape. Enjoy taking photos from massive, protruding rocks that jut from the ocean’s edge, and be rewarded upon reaching Thunder Hole, where waves crash into this rocky inlet, producing a thunderous roar.
Continue on the trail that still keeps you snug to the sea. It’s between Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff that I find great options for pictures of the coast in full fall-foliage glow. Rocky outcrops give me the perfect place to capture the mood.
After a few hours of exploring the coast, you can easily board the #3 bus at Otter Cliff, which will take you back to Bar Harbor in no less than 15 minutes. This gave me enough time to snap all the photos I wanted with no stress of driving, parking or navigating, and even left me time to enjoy a bowl of chowder in town before hopping back on board.
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