Walking is the chief activity on the island; it's genuinely surprising how much distance you can cover on these 700 acres (about 1 1/2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide). The village clusters tightly around the harbor; the rest of the island is mostly wildland, laced with 17 miles of trails. Much of the island is ringed with high, open bluffs atop fissured cliffs; pack a picnic lunch and hike the perimeter trail, spending much of the day sitting, reading, and enjoying the surf rolling in against the cliffs.
The inland trails are appealing in a far different way. Deep, dark Cathedral Woods is mossy and fragrant; sunlight only dimly filters through the evergreens to the forest floor. Birding is also a popular spring and fall activity. The island is right on the Atlantic flyway, and a wide variety of birds stop here during annual migrations.
Port Clyde is located at the tip of a long finger of land about 15 miles south of Route 1. Its charm derives from the fact that it's still just a fishing village. While some small-scale tourist enterprises have made their mark here, it caters primarily to working fishermen and the ferrymen who keep Monhegan supplied.
Head to the Port Clyde General Store on the waterfront and soak up the cracker-barrel ambience (there's actually a decent selection of wine here, attesting to encroaching upscalism). Order a sandwich to go, and then drive to the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum (tel. 207/372-6450) -- to find it, follow the road along the harbor east and bear right to reach the point. The museum opens Saturday and Sunday only during May, then daily from Memorial Day until Columbus Day. This small lighthouse received a few moments of fame when Forrest Gump turned around here and headed back west during his cross-country walks in the movie, but it also happens to be one of the most peaceful and scenic lighthouses in the state.
The sole attraction on the island is the good Monhegan Museum, next to the 1824 lighthouse on a high point above the village. The museum, open for a few hours in the middle of each day from late June through September, has a quirky collection of historic artifacts and provides context for this rugged island's history. Nearby is a small and select art museum that opened in 1998 and features changing exhibits showcasing the works of illustrious island artists, including Rockwell Kent.
The spectacular view from the grassy slope in front of the lighthouse is the real prize, though. The vista sweeps across a marsh, past one of the island's most historic hotels, past Manana Island, and across the sea beyond. Get here early if you want a good seat for the sunset; folks often congregate here after dinner for the view.
Artists are still attracted to this island in great numbers (notably Jamie Wyeth, whose home can be seen from a distance in picturesque Lobster Cove), and many open their studios to visitors during posted hours in summer. Some of the artwork runs along the lines of predictable seascapes and sunsets, but much of it rises above the banal. Look for the bulletin board along the main pathway in the village for a listing of the days and hours the studios are open.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.