Rick BissonMaine’s coastline is speckled with over 4,600 coastal islands; that number not including Maine’s inland islands. In fact, there are more islands on the Gulf of Maine than on the entire East Coast of the United States.

Half of Maine’s islands are publicly-owned. The other half are privately-owned. However, 94 percent of Maine’s island acreage is privately-owned. Meaning that, while the private sector owns half of Maine’s islands, their share of the total acreage is much larger than that of the public sector.

These islands vary in size and distance from the mainland. Approximately one third of Maine’s islands are 10 acres or larger, while others are large rocks that only appear at certain tides. Some are designated nature preserves. Some offer the latest of all of man’s modern amenities while others remain relatively untouched by modernity. Fourteen of the islands off Maine’s rocky coast are inhabited year round; mostly in Casco Bay, Penobscot Bay, and south of Mount Desert.

Scheduled ferry service exists for access to about 20 of the 4,600 island destinations — some of the ferry services are public and run by the state, others are privately owned and operated. Maine’s privately-owned islands not serviced by ferry offer a unique opportunity to escape the day-to-day demands of mainland life for a sanctuary of solitude.

For anyone looking to make their dream of owning a private island in Maine a reality, there are a number of islands currently available for sale. Here’s a sampling of a few in and near the Midcoast region.

House Island offers five beaches on 12.8 acres with two piers and 3,980 feet of ocean frontage on inner Casco Bay. Four private residences encompassing 7,497 square feet, provide 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. Listed for $6,900,000 the island is a six to seven minute water taxi or private boat ride from Portland’s waterfront. Annual taxes on House Island are $36,158.

Clapboard Island is one mile off the coast of Falmouth Foreside. With 3,200 feet of shoreline along Casco Bay, the island estate includes a 9,087 square foot home, teahouse, guesthouse, boathouse, walking trails, five beaches, a stone pier and a helipad. A generator and solar panels atop a recently refurbished barn provide electricity for the island. The 22 acres available for sale are on the west side of the island; the east side of the island is in conservation. Listed for $4,500,000 the annual taxes on Clapboard Island are $41,427.

Pyne Island in Bremen is a four-acre island with 2,200 feet of ocean frontage on Muscongus Bay. The island provides 7,000 square feet of living space in the six-bedroom, four-bathroom summer cottage and outbuildings. The same family has owned the island for more than 75 years. The property includes a three-car garage on the mainland. Listed for $1,350,000 the annual taxes on Pyne Island are $4,932.

Contemplating the purchase of one of the island gems described above conjures romantic thoughts of a tranquil place to escape the real world. Before casting off for the dreamy isolation and solitude of island life important considerations include: access to and from the island, electricity, plumbing, security, maintenance and future resale. Each of these require careful research.

If you, or someone you know, is contemplating buying into island life along the coast of Maine be certain to enlist the services of a trusted Realtor. Their knowledge and expertise will help guide you through those important considerations and others. Let them be your guide to determine if island life is right for you.

This column is produced by Rick Bisson and his family, who own Bisson Real Estate with Keller Williams Realty of Midcoast and Sugarloaf.

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