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The western, "quiet" side of Mount Desert Island is perfect for the traveler who’d rather avoid the crowds who descend on Bar Harbor in the height of the summer. Southwest Harbor is the largest village on the quiet side and offers a nice mix of things to do and the feel of a real Maine fishing village.
Wrapped around a harbor that hosts vessels from classic Maine lobster boats up to the million-dollar yachts made by Hinckley (based on the south side of the harbor), the village offers a scaled-down version of the restaurants, shops and places to stay of Bar Harbor.
Across the water you can see the Cranberry Islands. For a closer look, take one of the mail boats that connect the islands’ residents -- both summer and year-round -- to the rest of the world. Nature cruises and sailing trips also leave from different spots around the harbor.
To the west lie the quieter communities of Bass Harbor -- with its often-photographed lighthouse -- and Bernards. From Bass Harbor a car ferry goes to Swans Island.