Hermit Island is one of the most gorgeous places on Earth. I’ve walked the paths of the Grand Canyon and Zion Park, dipped my toes in the tropical waters of remote Thai islands, seen rich blue skies set against the crumbling temple of Angkor Wat and ambled through vibrant-red gates in western Japan – all of which possess their own splendor – but they cannot compare with the exquisite, pristine beauty of Hermit Island.
Before I was born, my parents were introduced to a small peninsula along the coast of Maine. With another couple, they packed their station wagon to the brim, drove seven hours north and pitched their tents. On their very first visit, they were caught in seven days of heavy rain. While their friends vowed never to return, apparently this was the dream vacation my parents had been searching for.
Throughout the years, my parents have introduced the campgrounds to many people, including my brother, his wife, myself and even some of my friends. When I was young, these summer days consisted of collecting penny-sized crabs in a bucket, hiking to Sand Dollar Beach at the end of the peninsula, then watching the sun set over the Bathtub (an inlet surrounded by rocks), and afterward walking with only a flashlight to the grocery store for an ice cream treat.
There were also nature walks with Ronnie, an enthusiastic local committed to building awareness about wildlife. Together we uncovered every creature hiding in the sand, under rocks, on a leaf. I was already collecting bugs for my bug hotel, but she fueled my curiosity about nature by showing me how the cliff swallows build nests under the Kelp Shed’s roof, digging in the mud for clams, and locating Starfish Cave – a cavern full of colorful sponges and starfish, big and small.
In the spirit of Earth Day and re-invigorating your appreciation for nature, this month’s feature is devoted to being greener and increasing environmental awareness. Learn about purifying your indoor air , purchasing produce from local organic farms, using fewer chemicals to clean your home, and minimizing your carbon footprint. As Earth’s inhabitants, it is our responsibility to preserve the environment.
At Hermit Island, part of preserving its beauty lies in the hands of its visitors. Fortunately, in encouraging a low impact on the environment, the campsite offers a healthy balance of unspoiled wilderness and modern comforts. Tents are encouraged while RVs are banned. Amenities include flush toilets (but in some areas only latrines) and showers with hot water, limited via a timed button. There are quite a few beaches and you nev er have to fight for blanket space on the sand, but the ocean water is chilly and rises to 60°F only if you’re lucky. At night, you must keep your food well-hidden, because you never know if hungry raccoons or deer are lurking nearby. And booking your campsite six months in advance means that you never know if you’re booking seven days of uninterrupted rain.
Understandably, fighting off mosquitoes and sleeping in a tent is not for everybody. However, Hermit Island is a favorite destination for my parents. They still visit this incredibly unique place every summer and have done so every year for the past 42 years. On the surface, camping there might not sound like much, but, like Beijing, if you look closer, there is so much more to it. Although I have not joined my parents every year, when I do revist, Hermit Island is just as I remember it: the water is cold and unforgiving, but there are always hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.