Tips for Getting Around Acadia aboard the Island Explorer Shuttles

Left: The Bicycle Express is equipped to transport lots of bikes at once between Kids Corner in Bar Harbor and Eagle Lake. (Photo by Shannon Bryan/Friends of Acadia). Top right: The new Island Explorer bus at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. (Photo by Ashley L. Conti/Friends of Acadia) Bottom right: Island Explorer staff will help riders load their bikes onto the racks on the front and back of the buses. (Photo by Shannon Bryan/Friends of Acadia)


When the Island Explorer was founded in the late 1990s, it was established to pick people up at campgrounds and hotels and connect them to village centers and places in the park.

The idea was so successful that the bus system has carried more than 8.7 million passengers over its history, reducing automobile trips by an estimated 3.3 million, and preventing an estimated 46 tons of smog-causing pollutants and over 30,000 tons of greenhouse gases.

The Island Explorer runs daily from June into October on Mount Desert Island. The bus system includes multiple routes to and from destinations like Sand Beach, Jordan Pond, Sieur de Monts, Otter Cliffs, downtown Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor, as well as many island campgrounds and hotels. Service also runs on the Schoodic Peninsula. It’s free to ride, although you will need an Acadia National Park entry pass to visit park locations.

Two new routes were added last year – Highbrook and Tremont. The Highbrook route carries passengers to/from the Bar Harbor Village Green to several of the large hotels southwest of Route 3 in Bar Harbor, and the Tremont route carries passengers from downtown Southwest Harbor around Route 102A to Bass Harbor and Bernard.

An Island Explorer bus waits for passengers at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. (Photo by Ashley L. Conti/Friends of Acadia)

All Island Explorer buses are equipped with bicycle racks, although they cannot accommodate tag-alongs, tandems, bikes with fat tires, or motorized bicycles of any kind, including E-bikes.

If you’re just visiting Mount Desert Island for the day or your lodging accommodations are outside downtown Bar Harbor, find parking and bus service either from the MDOT Park and Ride at the Acadia Gateway Center in Trenton or next to the CAT ferry terminal on Eden Street in Bar Harbor.

The Island Explorer is an easy and popular way to get around, so it’s wise to think ahead when planning your day. If a bus is full, you’ll need to wait for the next one, so be prepared with extra water, snacks, rain gear, and a good book or something to entertain the kids. If the most direct route is busy, consider taking a different route and remember that the last buses of the day can also fill up quickly.

Explore Acadia by Foot, Bike, and Bus

Car-free Itineraries to Explore the Park in a More Environmentally Friendly Way

Learn more

Visit the Island Explorer website to see real-time bus tracking and set up an alert to remind you when to head to your stop. For more information, including routes, schedules, and FAQs, go to

STEPHANIE CLEMENT is Friends of Acadia’s Conservation Director. SHANNON BRYAN is Friends of Acadia’s Content and Website Manager.