|Minimum Stay||3 - 6 nights|
Our cottages sit at ocean's edge, 50' away, but well apart from each other. Picture windows along the length of the house keep the ocean ever-present. Lobster boats pull buoys outside the window. The sunrise and stars are clear over the night ocean. There's a private deck on one side and a grassy yard on the other. Washer, dryer, two showers (indoor and outdoor), furnace. The sandy beach is just a short distance (you can get there in a minute). Your dogs/cats are welcome.
Matinicus Island, the most remote island in Penobscot Bay is rarely visited by tourists, and is considered a working island, not a tourist island, but this beach camp, right on the ocean’s edge, has for 33 years been available for individuals and families seeking a place off-the-beaten-track who understand that in trade for the occasional shortage and uncertain timetables that island living imposes they will experience remote solitude, secluded sand beaches and an intimate look at the Atlantic ocean.
If you are considering Matinicus Island, you are already familiar with key Matinicus internet bullet points:
* Matinicus is the most seaward remote island community in Maine,
* Matinicus has a reputation, possibly mixing truth and fiction, as a pirate island with a smuggling history
* Matinicus has an undertone of past violence (that does NOT involve visitors) in defense of lobstering territory
* Matinicus is remote and you can’t always get what you want when you want it out there
* Matinicus feels special to the visitor and resident, and unlike almost anyplace except Matinicus.
You, as a visitor, will become part of that specialness, part of a type of traveller who can, as islanders say, 'make it at Matinicus'.
Beach camps are a dying housing type, but NORRIS BEACH COTTAGE attempts to keep the tradition: location at the edge of the beach and directly on the ocean, open kitchen shelving, basic indoor bathroom with Incinolet toilet, but the outdoor shower is popular, too. The three bedrooms are furnished with twin beds (2 rooms) and a queen bed (1 room). The thread-count of the sheets is what you decide to bring, as sheets and towels are an item the guests are asked to supply for themselves.
Matinicus, with rare sand beaches, and its remaining beach camps has been favorably compared to Nantucket Island in the 1950’s, that quiet period at Nantucket long before the billionaires pushed out the millionaires. (Money at Matinicus is only good to buy baked goods at the island bakery and lobster in the harbor). The closeness to the ocean creates some challenges for maintenance: metal rusts quickly, for example.
The Norris Beach Camp was built in 1954 as close to the ocean’s edge as common sense would allow at that time before zoning setbacks prohibited such close siting to the ocean. There’s been no storm damage over the years. Norris Cottage is a classic beach camp with rustic touches, that include exposed beams and stud walls in places, open concept, half-walls separating sleeping rooms that don’t reach the ceiling, and many 50’s era details as detailed below:
The overall style of the Norris Cottage might be called “retro” had any attempt been made to re-create the 1950’s, but in fact Norris Cottage is genuine: a 1950’s period Maine island oceanfront camp. It is well-constructed, with picture windows facing the ocean and an ample deck on the ocean. The ocean is close, 50 feet away, and so is the sound of lapping water, and the smells, and occasionally the sound of the bell buoy marking the harbor entrance off-shore.
The master bedroom (queen bed) has a full wall of windows facing the ocean, which is about 50’ outside the window. Two smaller bedrooms are furnished with twin bed sets (4 beds, plus queen) A large couch in the living area might allow for an extra guests to sleep, so 7 persons would be maximum occupancy.
A beach camp: for one thing, the furniture is mis-matched, comfy, and old-fashioned. If you bring a pet, you won’t likely harm anything in the house. The well water is heavily filtered, but contains an iron content that will stain white laundry, so don’t bring white laundry or linens to wash in the washing machine provided, please bring colors. The kitchen sink is an antique large single bowl cast iron farmhouse sink. Indeed, some of the metal on the base of floor lamps reveal oxidation from the salt air, which is no surprise given the beating the camp can receive in a winter storm, not an issue during the summer season. The mattresses including the queen-size are mostly dated post-2000.
If the idea of a traditional outhouse offends, best to stop reading now. Norris Cottage does have an indoor-type bathroom with indoor shower and an incinerating toilet (Incinolet brand, not a flush toilet) but the camp is also served by an outhouse, which some feel is superior to incinerating waste using electricity, while others simply can’t consider it.
Some people are naturally drawn to islands, and they bother with them because it removes you from the way that the automobile and roads and commerce define physical space and your agenda. While Matinicus has a few cars and some roads, many of which are more jeep trails than roads, it's a walking island, mainly. There are many remote beaches only accessible by foot, and rarely visited, unless you go see and comb the beaches there. Most people at Matinicus work harvesting lobster, a hard labor which begins before dawn, so that by 5:00 p.m. the island quiets down, and by dark, the day has ended. There is something comforting about being set up with your family group next to the ocean as this occurs, and the sense of closeness, remove, and privacy is something that you can't quite achieve on the mainland. Matinicus' sand beaches are nearly unique in rocky Maine, and the camp location right on the ocean is prime, the real essence of the experience, and why it can be successful, is the pleasure of being alone with your group with the vast ocean in front of you and little to interfere with your family plans. So visitors get to spend more and better time together.
We've rented since 1983, to probably 300++ guests/families, via our own website www.matinicusisland.com and have been with Homeaway since 2010 but Matinicus isn't 'home-away-from-home', it's different from home. We'd like potential guests to think less in terms of 'amenities' and more in terms of what Matinicus does NOT offer, as it is the absence of commercial distractions (and many conventional amenities) that makes a visit to the island memorable.
A FEW CAVEATS: The well water sometimes has iron that will stain white clothing in the washing machine. Kohls has a dryer, both camps have washing machines. Buoys guests have collected hang in the rafters. The floor is uneven in places. There is no store on the island (but you can fax orders to the mainland Shaw’s Supermarket who will pack and deliver and fly over the groceries for you at reasonable cost) Cell phones don’t work well until you wander nearer the beach, but there’s WI-FI internet. The outdoor lighting is poor, but it’s easy to see the Milky Way. Lobster is the most fresh quality. Young men who work on the boats have been known to ride ATV’s on the wide sand on the beach, which is against Maine law. Other Maine laws are broken at various times around the island. Island residents mostly like it this way. You are on your own at Matinicus, and this is an attraction for many. However, in a medical emergency, the flying service can have you at a hospital quickly.
The concept is “housekeeping cottage” or as the British say, “self-catering” and you are on your own and may find you have to improvise. For example: one guest, not locating a spatula in the kitchen since it had migrated down to the beach as a child’s toy, fashioned his own spatula using a flattened aluminum can and a driftwood handle. (The lost spatula has since been replaced, but we kept the guest's improvisation as a memento in the rafters). Self-reliance like this is essential if you choose to go out to Matinicus Island.
The simplicity of the beach camp concept is that you can put a broom to the place and in quick order whatever mess the kids or the dogs made will be remedied. Guests are asked to remove/recycle their trash and leave the place 'Broom Clean' as turnovers on Saturdays are tightly scheduled, and in-between cleaning service can't be 100% guaranteed.
You have to do some menu planning as there is no store, just a bakery and lobster available, but the mainland Shaw’s Supermarket will accept your grocery order by FAX in the morning and have the boxes flown out in the afternoon. This is how Matinicus Islanders live: never having to drive to the super market or hassle the parking, but having selection available anyway.
We loved the offshore islands in the 1970's and in 1980 a classified ad appeared in The Maine Times, a tabloid paper back then, advertising this place for sale on Matinicus. It was November. We headed right up to Rockland and flew out, walked in the door and said "somehow, we'll figure out how to pay for this". Somehow included placing a 14% second mortgage on our New Boston, New Hampshire ranch house (156 Francestown Road, if you know New Boston) in 1981, but no regrets now. We've done so much and had so many adventures out there, there's no room here to recount.
Owner purchased this cottage in 1981
great spot on the ocean, island is like no place else we've ever been in the United States
getting away from it all, off-the-beaten-track.
We were looking for a real retreat - a special property that could provide our family with immediate and wonderful access to beautiful nature, fresh air, privacy, and a beach! It was just as advertised. Yes, rustic. And an absolutely gorgeous setting. The island was great to explore. The property owner was wonderful to communicate with. Truly met our hopes/expectations.
* The view from within the master bedroom, the living area and kitchen, and the deck were breathtaking.
*With a very short walk you were at Markey's Beach, which surely must be one of Maine's most beautiful beaches.
* The residents of Matinicus were kind hearted, hard working, generous people. They were happy to help the couple times we were in a bind. It was a delight to visit their community.
*Eva's Bakery, My Sister's Soap, The Island Market, and the Robin R. are all amazing local businesses that made our stay extra special!
*The owner has created and maintained a wonderful website that has all the information you could possibly need about Matinicus. It made planning really easy.
*The beautiful artwork throughout the cottage.
* The camp was certainly a rustic beach camp, as the owner described. However it was not clean. It looks like it maybe gets a quick cleaning once a year or so. It certainly did not appear to be cleaned between guests. The outhouse was especially unclean.
*While the owner warned us the water was too minerally to drink, we found it more of a pain then we anticipated. Eva, of Eva's Bakery, is gracious to share her water for drinking and cooking. However, when we did a load of laundry some clothes that were light (not white) are now rust stained. Several other cottages have put on water filter's, and it would make the stay a bit more relaxing.
*The incinerator and outhouse. If the outhouse had been clean, it would have been preferable. Instead it was pretty dirty and there were a remarkable number of flies and mosquitos who wanted to join you for the experience. Mid week we largely started using the incinerator, which is simple enough to use. However it stunk, an awful burning smell. By the end of the week we were ready for a clean bathroom.
*Much of the furniture was falling apart.
* The price. It was overpriced for a very rustic, not particularly clean cottage with a stunning view. We justified the cost because of the view. After talking with several folks, we have learned of other rentals with beautiful views, drinkable water, and flushable/ running toilets for a similar price. If we return, which we hope to someday, we would look into one of these rentals instead.
In short, it was an amazing week with a stunning view, but we would recommend the owner invest in their property a bit and have the place cleaned between guests. If they did, it would be a 5 star rental.
The Norris beach camp is an amazing getaway. We spent 5 days at the camp with our 2 young daughters. The location is remote and beautiful. The camp is just that, a camp. It is cozy and comfortable, not fancy (and that is just perfect). Days on the island are spent wandering the sand beaches, throwing rocks into the ocean, watching lobster boats or walking over to the bakery for fresh pie. The owner Geoff was very helpful in my planning and preparing us for our vacation. You do have to plan ahead, but getting items from the mainland is possible and the people living on the island are a huge help. Several times we just called the lobsterman and he had fresh lobster brought to our door! We had a wonderful time getting away from our usual busy lives and enjoying each other and nature.
Unobstructed ocean views (right from the bed), few people, fresh-fresh lobster, cool plane ride, few people, beautiful silky sand beaches, sunrises, meandering walks and chats with interesting characters, "duck lessons" every morning in the cove, deep seclusion, and did I mention few people?
We were looking for something remote with an ocean view. What we got was that and so much more. We were prepared to sacrifice comfort to get remote AND ocean, but we did not need to at all.
The cabin was very clean, the bed was very comfortable, the views fantastic, the island amazing. The owner was SO helpful before we left, lots of good advice about how to get there, what to bring, what to expect, tidbits about things to do and what to look for. Our favorite time was just watching the baby ducks having lessons, checking the rock formation to gauge tides, and getting in touch with the REAL world. The faint sound of the harbor bell, the amazing sunrises, the incredible stars at night (no light pollution!), so soothing. And lobster right from the boat? How fresh is that?
Even though there is "nothing" on the island (groceries, restaurants, stores) we did not want for anything because the owner prepared us well. There is a bakery with great treats (the best part is the baker herself) and a little crafty shop with creative arts and crafts (check out the driftwood sculptures) where we also bought fresh-that-day lobster from The Fisherman. Everyone on the island was friendly, even the dogs. And Penobscot Air? Definitely take the plane in. The pilots were great, the woman running things was absolutely superb, and nothing beats the sight of the island from the air. Nothing.
Yes, it's not for everyone (that's you, high-maintenance people), since there is a (very clean and well-maintained) outhouse and Incinolet, but the scales tip so far to the other side that you hardly notice.
We are planning to come back in September for our anniversary, so we can get a feel for another Mantincus season: red dahlias, seals (?), and actually swimming in the ocean instead of wading. And apparently the stars are awesome then too.
The island itself was refreshing, the people all very friendly, the dogs loved us, and we could not get enough. I highly recommend both the island and this cottage in particular for anyone looking to catch their breath after any long ordeal. You will NOT be disappointed.
My husband and I have been going to Matinicus on and off since the early 1990's. The original ad promised an untouristed island 22 miles out to sea and all these years later it is still untouristed.
Matinicus is THE best place to unwind.
On a lazy day you can do a lot of watching (we call it Matinicus TV): Watch the sunrise. Watch the tide come in. Watch the seals. Watch the lobsters boats return. Watch the tide go out. Watch the stars. If you are lucky enough to be there during a storm you can watch the waves crash on the rocks in front of the cottage.
On a busy day: Rocks to climb. Magical enchanted forest paths to walk through. My favorite is the walk to South Sandy Beach – up the hill, past the church, the school (there were 5 students enrolled last time we were there), and the cemetery – down a woodland path to a beautiful sandy beach where I always ffind seaglass and sand dollars.
The cottage is homey and comfortable. It is always clean. The kitchen has all the basics. In the first years we vacationed at Norris Cottage there was an outhouse and outdoor shower. Now there is an Incinolet toilet (very interesting) and an indoor shower. The outdoor shower, with its’ view of the Atlantic wins hands down. The water takes a bit to get used to – you might end up with a rust-colored nail polish by week’s end – just bring plenty of bottled water for cooking and drinking.
The amenities - constant view of the ocean, the sound of the buoy bell, lying in bed watching the sunrise over the Atlantic and the salt air.
Matinicus is only for people who are flexible. There are two ways to get there from Rockland – plane or boat. If it is foggy – no plane. If the seas are too rough – no boat. You get there eventually and get home eventually). We like to take the 10-minute plane ride over and the hour and a half boat ride back.
Matinicus is definitely not for everyone, which is one of the things we like most about the island but we’ll keep going back.
My family and I stayed on Matinicus for a week last summer with our 3 small children...After much searching we found a place that was unique, remote and serene our perfect spot to vacation with kids! A place to let our children run wild. Our goal was to be able to show the kids the Maine experience-the one in which our children drank in the sound of the ocean, caught crabs, picked berries, read stories and created memories that will last a lifetime. Cottage was well equipped with all that we could've asked for- board games, bon fires on the beach, all this while our infant was able to nap in the cottage safely! Cottage owners were friendly and super easy to work with! I loved being able to "experience" the real Maine and cook lobster, haddock, and clams nightly for my family! We even met a woman on the island who baked us fresh blueberry pies! Island life was island life, yet friendly enough to assist with an EMT when our oldest son had an accident and had to be flown to the main land in an emergency.
The island is remote and offshore, but is served by an airstrip where most anything sold on the mainland can be flown out same day. Activies are basically getting away from it all, off-the-beaten-track and away from tourists
Weekly rentals begin Saturdays at noon. and end the following Saturday. One week's rent is required in advance to reserve. A balance is due 30 days prior to your stay.
Refunds will ONLY be given for cancellations made prior to June 1st and ONLY if we can re-rent the time you reserved.