Asticou Azalea Garden & Thuya Garden
Mount Desert Island is home to two notable botanical gardens, the Asticou Azalea Garden and the Thuya Garden. Tucked away from the busy crowds of the Park, these gardens provide a quiet respite to enjoy the beautiful greenery. They are managed not by the National Park, but by the Land & Garden Preserve, a local island organization. Just a 20 minute drive from Bar Harbor, these gardens are located just off Maine Route 3 near Northeast Harbor. You can also access them by taking the Island Explorer Route 6.
Of these two, the Asticou Azalea Garden is the larger and more popular attraction. It is situated off a main road, but still possesses a largely serene atmosphere. Inspired by Japanese gardening design principles, Asticou Azalea is built around a large pond. The titular azaleas bloom periodically throughout the year. Consult the Preserve’s bloom schedule to make sure you’re visiting at a good time. The garden’s mid-sized parking lot tends to fill up quickly, so the shared auxiliary parking lot may need to be used.
Conversely, the Thuya Garden is a smaller and more intimate botanical experience. After traversing up a winding residential road, you find the wooden gates bearing the garden’s name. Thuya has fewer water features, but more colorful annually-planted flowers. Due to its separation from large roads, Thuya is very quiet, and offers plenty of places to sit and take in the scenery. It also has direct connections to hiking trails on Eliot Mountain, allowing for interesting paths through the natural scenery. There is a small parking lot as well as a shared auxiliary lot down the road during busy times.
More About the Gardens
Use the links below to learn more about the Land & Garden Preserve as well as the Preserve's bloom schedule.
Interested in Photographing Nature?
Check out the wildlife viewing section of our Recreation page to learn more about how to photograph the beauty of Acadia National Park.
A small, nondescript parking lot off Old Farm Road hosts the forested trailhead to Dorr Point. Several diverging short and easy trails lead to different parts of this natural feature. On the way through the forest, the foundations of the Old Farm cottage are visible for exploration, though large trees now grow up through them.
At the edge of the forest, the trails end at one of multiple rock beaches in Compass Harbor, which are usually very empty and offer a nice view of the clear ocean waters and the Porcupine Islands. There are also opportunities to scramble along large rocks to get to the very tip of Dorr Point and observe tide pools along the way.
Getting to Dorr Point
If you are planning on going to Dorr Point, make sure to check out our Hiking Info and Safety pages to learn how to stay safe while exploring this hidden gem.
Hunters Beach can be a challenging attraction to navigate to, as you need to find your way to the secluded trailhead on Cooksey Dr. In terms of public transportation, the Island Explorer Route 4 gets closest, but a car is preferable for accessing this location. Since this place is minimally trafficked, the street parking along this road is sufficient for the visitors to the beach. A short (0.2 mi) hike over a rooty trail takes you along a stream to the quiet rocky beach. The ocean breeze here is quite chilly, but the view is excellent, and the atmosphere is very calm. Large rocks enclose the sides of the beach and also allowed ample opportunity for clambering for the more adventurous types.
Interested in Geology?
Explore our Geology page to learn about the different rock types you see in Acadia National Park.
Little Hunters Beach
Little Hunters Beach can be found along Park Loop road, making it easier than its bigger sibling to access. The Island Explorer Route 4 is a good choice for public transport here. A set of wooden stairs descend off the main road over a small creek to get into the rocky beach. Scattered towers of balanced rocks adorn the secluded cove, and the clear greenish water affords the beach a mystical feeling. The large rocks to the right offer plenty of opportunities for clambering and observing tide pools. There is sufficient street parking along Park Loop Road for the small amount of visitors the beach typically gets.
Planning on Going for a Swim?
Check out our Recreation page to learn more about swimming in Acadia.
Seal Harbor Beach
Instead of fighting with traffic at the popular Sand Beach, consider Seal Harbor Beach as an alternative. Accessible by the Island Explorer Route 6, this small beach hosts a mid-sized parking lot that, along with the beach itself, tends to be moderately busy. A small stream flows into the ocean, framing the sandy beach on one side. From the beach itself, you can see a small dock for children and adventuresome types to swim out to in the cold ocean water, as well as a lovely view of the small islands and boats in Seal Harbor. A bathroom is also available at the parking lot.
Interested in Seeing Acadia's Most Popular Beach?
Check out our Popular Attractions page to learn about Sand Beach, Acadia's most popular beach.