Hog Island Frequently Asked Questions
- How far is Hog Island from the mainland?
- How do I get to the Island?
- What time do I arrive?
- When do I depart?
- What airport do you recommend?
- How do I get from the airport to the camp?
- Is there parking on the mainland?
- Is there public transportation available?
- What sort of clothing and gear should I bring?
- What about binoculars and scopes?
- Is there anything to purchase on Hog Island?
- Are linens and blankets provided?
- What is the weather like?
- Can I go swimming in the ocean?
- Are there mosquitos, black flies, or ticks?
- Can I receive U.S. mail or UPS deliveries?
- Is there telephone service available?
- Is there wireless service on Hog Island?
- Is smoking permitted?
- What is your alcohol policy?
- Are there opportunities for running?
- What trips will we take?
- What birds will I see?
- What about bad weather?
- What are some points of interest in the area?
- What hotels are in the area?
- Where are good places to go birding in the Hog Island area?
- Who are the instructors and the program directors?
- What is the difference between Breaking Into Birding, Joy of Birding and Field Ornithology?
- How many people per session?
- How many people in the shared housing?
- Do you have housing for couples?
- Can my spouse or partner come?
- What about children?
- What foods are served?
- Are there health or mobility requirements?
- Other medical considerations?
- What forms do I need to fill out?
- Can I volunteer?
- Who owns Hog Island and the Todd Wildlife Sanctuary?
- Will we see puffins?
1. How far is Hog Island from the mainland?
Just 1/4 mile from the shore. See the locations page for an aerial view.
2. How do I get to the Island?
You will meet the boat to Hog Island between 2 and 4pm on your arrival day unless you are attending a teen program, then see individual program pages for times. The boat ride is only a few minutes, so you can arrive anytime within this window and we'll get you across! The address where you will meet us is: Hog Island Audubon Camp, 12 Audubon Road, Bremen, Maine, 04551-3233. If you are driving, you will find online directions or download printable driving directions on the directions page. If you are arriving by van service from the Portland airport or by bus or train from Portland/Boston, we can pick you up in Damariscotta at 3:30pm (if the bus is late, we will wait). If you are staying overnight in Damariscotta or Newcastle, and will not have a personal vechicle, we can pick you up at your hotel the day of the camp at approximately 3:00 pm. We will send a sign-up form with your registration packet to arrange for pick-up from Damariscotta. Click here for details on public transportation.
For teens attending camps, Hog Island will provide round-trip transportation to and from the camp for a $100 surcharge if you are between the ages of 15-17 years old. Teens that are 14 years old cannot be transported as they are unaccompanied minors. Plan for teens to arrive at the Portland airport must be made in advance on the travel form. Audubon staff will help the teens check-in and see them to airport security, so please arrange for meeting during the designated times. Teens who are not arriving by plane can also meet the camp van for transportation to and from the Portland airport or they can be dropped off at the Hog Island Audubon Camp dock.
For all adult programs, plan to arrive between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm on arrival day at the Audubon dock in Bremen, Maine. (Teens should plan to arrive at their designated time, see website for details.)
For all programs and all campers, departure is at 8:00 am (after breakfast), but earlier departures can be arranged for those who need to meet early flights.
5. What airport do you recommend?
Portland International Airport is 65 miles south of the camp, which is about 1.5 hours driving time. Boston airport is about 3 hours away, but more transportation options exist from the Portland airport. Some campers have found cheaper rates flying into Manchester, NH, than Portland. Another option is to fly into Boston and take the bus to Damariscotta with Concord Coach Bus.
6. How do I get from the airport to the camp?
Country Coach Charters delivers to the Audubon Camp. Their local phone number is (207) 563-LIMO.
Mid-Coast Limo will also pick up passengers at the Portland airport drop them off at the McDonald's in Damariscotta for $75. For details, call (800) 937-2424.
Twin Village Taxi offers 24/7 transportation throughout Lincoln County and beyond. Fare from hotels in Damariscotta to the camp dock in Bremen is approx. $15. Portland to/from Damariscotta is $130. Call (207) 380-0050. Please consider carpooling with other participants:
7. Is there parking on the mainland?
Yes, our parking lot is on the mainland at the Todd Wildlife Sanctuary. Drop off your luggage at the boathouse before parking your car at the top of the hill.
8. Is there public transportation available?
Concord Coach Lines runs one bus a day between Portland and Damariscotta. To schedule and make reservations, call (800) 639-3317 or visit their website. For more details on bus service and other public transportation options, see the Getting to Camp page. Audubon offers free shuttle service from the camp and the bus stop in Damariscotta on the day of arrival at 3:30 pm (to meet the incoming bus from Boston). At the end of the session, you may arrange to take the camp van to Damariscotta at 9:00 am to meet the bus. A travel form will be sent to campers before the session begins, on which you may indicate if you would like to reserve the van pick up or drop off in Damariscotta.
9. What sort of clothing and gear should I bring?
Warm clothing is recommended (especially for early June and September sessions). It is best to bring multiple layers, and include gloves, warm hats, wool socks, etc. Rain gear (tops and pants) is necessary, and hats are recommended for both rainy and sunny conditions. Nights can be chilly on the island and there is no heat in the buildings, so be sure to bring some warmer clothes for sleeping. Sleeping bags are recommended for the early June and September programs. Extra blankets are available. Sneakers are fine for getting around camp and on boats; hiking boots are also helpful, especially for walking over uneven terrain. Most landings on islands are 'wet landings.', and for these trips, we recommend sneakers, water shoes, sandals, or, shoes that you don't mind getting wet!
10. What about binoculars and scopes?
Bring a pair of binoculars. There will be a presentation early in the session about the proper use and care of binoculars. Some leaders will have scopes but you are also welcome to bring your own for mainland birding trips. Scopes are not recommended on the boats because the movement of the boat makes it difficult to control your field of sight and increases risk of damage to scopes brought on boats. A few binoculars are available for loan and purchase in the Hog Island store.
11. Is there anything to purchase on Hog Island?
There is a small Nature Store that sells field guides and other books and gifts. In the dining hall we will always have food out and available to you such as toast, cheese sticks, and hard-boiled eggs at no cost.
12. Are linens and blankets provided?
Yes, beds are made with clean linens and blankets, and a towel and washcloth are provided. There is no housekeeping service, but fresh linens are available on request. We recommend a sleeping bag for the early June and September programs, as temperatures in the 50's at night are common in the late spring and fall.
The temperatures on Hog Island are moderated by the ocean and for most sessions range between lows in the mid-50's to highs in the 70's or low 80's, although it can get colder at night. To get an idea of the temperatures during your program, see this chart of average high and low temperatures by month. For checking the weather online, the nearest town is Bremen, Maine (zip code 04551). Since the weather can change quickly, pack layers and changes of clothes.
14. Can I go swimming in the ocean?
We do not allow swimming at Hog Island . Wading from Porthole Cove will be made available at times designated by the camp staff if a lifeguard is available. You can get an idea of ocean temperatures from this map of current sea surface temperatures and from current reports from a bouy 25 miles offshore of Portland, Maine.
15. Are there mosquitos, black flies, or ticks?
Sometimes in early and mid-summer there are mosquitoes, so you may want to bring insect repellent or lightweight shirts with long sleeves to wear in the evening. Due to our marine location, we do not typically have black flies. Ticks can be common at some locations on the mainland and on the island, so bring repellent and plan to check yourself for ticks after hikes. Overall, we have relatively few problems with biting insects on Hog Island, compared to on the mainland.
16. Can I receive U.S. mail or UPS deliveries?
Yes. The mailing address is: Hog Island Audubon Camp, 12 Audubon Road, Bremen, Maine, 04551. Packages sent by UPS before the session can be received on weekdays at the mainland office, however, sending a package by UPS requires a trip in to Damariscotta, so this will need to be planned accordingly with bus and flight schedules. The camp van can take you to Damariscotta at 9:00 am on the last day of your session, and to the local UPS dropoff location.
17. Is there telephone service available?
Hog Island does not have a public telephone, and cell phone reception (depending on your provider) is variable on the island. If you make cell phone calls, we request that you do so in designated areas near the shore, and that cell phones are turned off during all camp activities. There is also a phone in the office that can be used for emergencies. The landline number is 207-360-7733.
18. Is there wireless service on Hog Island?
Yes, wireless internet service is available in the main dining hall, Fish House, and throughout most of camp.
19. Is smoking permitted?
Smoking is not permitted inside any of the Hog Island buildings or in the main campus area. Smoking is permitted only along the shore below the high tide line. Please bring something to dispose of your waste.
20. What is your alcohol policy?
Adult participants may bring alcohol for personal consumption, but no alcohol is for sale on Hog Island. Beer, wine, and spirits are for sale at grocery stores in Damariscotta. Please be aware that meals are served family style (6-8 people per table), so if you bring alcohol for meals, others at your table may want to share! Also, please note that refrigeration space is limited.
21. Are there opportunities for running?
Running on Hog Island can be challenging because of tree roots and uneven terrain, so it is not recommended. However, feel free to bring sturdy hiking boots if you would enjoy a rigorous morning hike.
These vary between sessions, but see the Selected Field Trips page for descriptions of some of the more common field trips. The daily schedule is dependent on the weather and will be announced the evening before each day's program.
Bird sightings vary by season and by weather. See the ebird reports from Hog Island and Eastern Egg Rock to get an idea of species we will likely see on the islands during your program. The Joy of Birding, Field Ornithology and Road Scholar sessions also offer mainland birding trips to diverse mid-coast Maine habitats. All programs from June through mid-August include a boat trip around Eastern Egg Rock to see the puffins and other pelagic birds. The puffins are gone by the September Road Scholar program, when we land on the island to perform habitat improvements. The September migration session is designed to take advantage of a variety of mainland and marine habitats, and includes an overnight on the famous migrant trap, Monhegan Island.
The camp's motto is "Embrace the weather" and for the most part we rise to that challenge, although rough seas or rain may require that we reschedule some outings, especially boat trips. Every effort will be made to include the major program elements in each session, including the boat trip around Eastern Egg Rock. The staff meets daily to revise the week's schedule based on the mainland weather forecast for Bremen and the marine forecast for the area from Eastport to Stonington, Maine. Although none of the buildings on Hog Island are heated, if it is cold or raining, the island manager will often build a fire in the large fireplace in the Fish House, where we have many workshops and evening programs. Also, we have portable heaters for common areas such as the dining hall.
25. What are some points of interest in the area?
The southern Maine Coast has numerous attractions for visitors. You can find festival dates, events, and information on the Chambers of Commerce websites for Damariscotta, Rockland, and Boothbay Harbor. Camden, Maine is about 40 minutes north of Bremen and home to many local attractions. Check out this online guide for ideas!
Project Puffin Visitor Center: Before or after your Hog Island session, we encourage everyone to visit the Project Puffin Visitor Center in Rockland. Located at 311 Main Street, the Center features live-streaming video from Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge, a theatre for viewing a documentary about Project Puffin, seabird art, a gift shop, and exhibits for all ages about Maine seabirds. The Center is a 40 minute drive from Hog Island. There are many other interesting attractions in Rockland as well.
Other Rockland-area attractions include: Farnsworth Art Gallery (featuring the work of the Wyeth family) Maine Lighthouse Museum, and Owl's Head Transportation Museum.
Attractions near Hog Island: Pemaquid Point is a bold rocky peninsula with a lighthouse famous for being featured on the Maine State quarter. Monhegan Island is located sixteen miles to sea from Hog Island, the island is famous for its art community and winter lobstering fleet. Boats to Monhegan are available from New Harbor on the Hardy Boat Cruises.
Puffin Watching trips: Although puffin watching is part of the Hog Island experience, some people can't get enough and like to add an additional trip to Egg Rock to their pre- or post-Hog Island plans. The nearest trip to Egg Rock is with the Hardy Boat Cruises.
Damariscotta: Damariscotta has many restaurants and shopping opportunities, and Damariscotta Mills is the site of one of Maine's premier alewife runs. South of Damaricotta you may want to visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and other attractions in Boothbay Harbor.
26. What hotels are in the area?
Near Hog Island: The Bradley Inn, New Harbor; The Inn at Round Pond, Round Pond; Oak Gables B&B, Damariscotta; Hotel Pemaquid, New Harbor; Newcastle Inn, Newcastle; The Mill Pond Inn, Damariscotta Mills; The Gosnold Arms, New Harbor; Sea Acres Cottages, Pemaquid; The Chamberlin House, Round Pond.
Near Rockland: Berry Manor Inn, Rockland; Captain Lindsey House, Rockland; LimeRock Inn, Rockland; Granite Inn, Rockland; Hampton Inn and Suites, Rockland/Thomaston.
We do provide free shuttles to and from the dock for all Damariscotta hotels: Oak Gables and Mill Pond Inn. We also will pick up at the High Street AirBnB.
27. Where are good places to go birding in the Hog Island area?
In Damariscotta: Where Business Route 1 crosses the Damariscotta River, one can find Herring, Great Black-backed, Laughing, and sometimes Ring-billed, Gulls, as well as Double-crested Cormorants, and possibly Common Eiders, and Chimney Swifts, which nest in some of the buildings in downtown Damariscotta. About a 30-minute walk out of town is Damariscotta Mills, home to an impressive run of alewives, an ocean-living herring that migrates up into Damariscotta Lake in late May. This attracts Bald Eagles, Osprey, and Common Loons, as well as Herring and Great-blacked Gulls. The walk up the restored fish ladder is good for Warbling Vireo, Baltimore Oriole, American Redstart, and other landbirds. The new Maine Birding Trail guide is an excellent, up-to-date source. A Birder's Guide to Maine by Elizabeth Cary Pierson, Peter D. Vickery, and Jan E. Pierson, is also recommended. Published in 1996, it is a valuable, detailed reference. At 399 pages, this is the most complete resource for finding birds in Maine.
28. Who are the instructors and the program directors?
Instructors and the program director for each session are listed at the bottom of each program page. Leaders include Pete Dunne, Scott Weidensaul, Catherine Hamilton, Mark Garland, Richard Crossley, Holly Merker, and many others. Together, this dynamic team brings decades of experience teaching about birds in Muscongus Bay. Read more about them on the instructors page.
29. What is the difference between Breaking Into Birding, Joy of Birding and Field Ornithology?
Breaking Into Birding is especially designed for those with beginning skills at bird identification. Learning to identify birds with others at a similar level provides a comfortable community of people for learning. The instructors in the program are especially adept at helping beginning birders locate birds, identify them, and observe behavior. This program is for those who are making their first identifications of birds. If you have not taken your bird interest beyond the yard, this session is especially for you.
Joy of Birding is designed to make you a better, more skilled birder. The leaders are some of the best birders in the world, and from the moment you step onto the island, until the moment you leave, every aspect of the program is focused on improving your birding skills by eye and ear. Participants in Joy of Birding will be able to select a focus group. These options are: "Better Birding Skills for Eye and Ear" and "The Music of Birds" (new ways to appreciate the aesthetics of animal sounds).
Field Ornithology is an intensive and fun-filled immersion in the science of birds. From avian evolution to vocal communication, reproductive strategies to habitat ecology, you'll learn from some of the top ornithologists in the country, who are pros at making science understandable and fascinating. You'll learn in the field - experiencing the dawn chorus with experts in birdsong at your side; landing on seabird nesting islands to observe nesting behavior at arm's length; discussing coloniality in the midst of a racous heronry. Field Ornithology is for non-scientists who want to better understand what makes a bird tick.
30. How many people per session?
- Spring Monhegan and Hog Island - 25 adults
- Building Better Birding Skills - 50 adults
- Field Ornithology - 42 adults
- Coastal Maine Bird Studies for Teens - 16-22 teens (ages 14 to 17)
- Puffin Islands - 30 adults
- Mountains to Sea Birding for Teens - 14 teens (ages 14-17)
- Arts and Birding - 30 adults
- Creating Bird-friendly Habitats - 20 adults
- Sharing Nature: An Educator's Week - 55 adults
- Costa Rica Teen Camp - 10-18 teens (ages 15-19)
- Family Camp - 55 participants (includes adults, and children ages 8 to 13)
- Seabird Biology and Conservation - FALL (Road Scholar) - 25 adults
- Living on the Wind: Fall Migration and Monhegan Island - 25 adults
- Raptor Migration and Monhegan Island - 25 adults
To keep group sizes small, for nearly all program elements (boat trips, bird walks, workshops, etc.), the group will be divided into smaller groups. You will be with the full group for meals and evening workshops.
31. How many people in the shared housing?
Most rooms have two single beds, which is where you will likely reside if you register for "shared double/triple". The Queen Mary has five of these doubles and also houses the six-bed loft (women only). The Porthole has ten double rooms, with a few bunk beds to accommodate family housing. The Crow's Nest has one triple and two qaudruples. With the exception of the Helm cabin, there are no rooms with double beds. See the lodging page to see photos of the rooms and learn more about accommodations. The Osprey, Roseate, Eider, Blackburnian, Guillemot and Puffin Rooms each have two twin beds and a private bath. A few rooms are available for groups of three, four, and five people. Contact the program manager to check on availability of these rooms (email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 207-360-7733).
32. Do you have housing for couples?
Yes, most rooms on Hog Island are for two people. However, note almost all beds on the island are single beds. Hence, a 'double' room is two twin beds and a 'triple' is a room with three single beds. The only housing we have available for couples that want a double bed and privacy is the Helm private cottage, which is nestled in the woods by itself and has a deck overlooking the bay. For photos and prices of all the housing options, visit the lodging page.
33. Can my spouse or partner come?
Absolutely! Your spouse or partner is welcome to enroll in any Hog Island session. All program activities are optional, so if your spouse or partner would prefer to explore the island or relax, they are welcome to do so while you participate in the program sessions.
We have three weeks of teen camp (for ages 14 to 17), and family camp is offered for families (for adults and children ages 8 to 12). Your family members and friends are welcome to come with you to the island on the arrival day (between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm on Sunday) and see where you will be staying for the session.
We are very proud of the exceptional food that we offer. We strive to obtain locally produced foods and most meals are made from scratch. Food is served family-style or as a buffet. Vegetarian option entrees are provided for all meals, and the kitchen staff works closely with guests to accommodate special diets. Please include information on diet restrictions when you submit your registration materials.
36. Are there health or mobility requirements?
All participants should be in reasonably good health and be able to walk unassisted over uneven ground. Getting in and out of small boats is important. Facilities on the island are not wheelchair accessible. The September migration session includes two days on Monhegan Island, which requires significant walking over uneven terrain for 2 miles. A health questionnaire will be sent to all registrants as part of the registration information packet that follows the receipt of your deposit. This must be returned to the registrar prior to the beginning of your session.
37. Other medical considerations?
In the event of an emergency, a boat is always available to take people to the mainland and to the Miles Memorial Hospital, which is about 20 minutes from Hog Island. Most of the trips are in a protected part of Muscongus bay and trips are rescheduled if there are large swells. For those that readily get seasick, we recommend bringing Bonine (an over-the-counter product which can be purchased in most pharmacies), acupressure wrist bracelets, and/or candied ginger.
38. What forms do I need to fill out?
To enroll in any of the programs, please visit the registration page. About eight weeks before camp, we will send you additional forms that you will need to fill out, including liability release, medical, and travel forms.
Yes! Each year dozens of Hog Island alumni return as dedicated volunteers to help run the camp sessions. The Friends of Hog Island (FOHI) provides volunteers to help with every camp session in the kitchen, as well as with housekeeping and maintenance projects. FOHI also organizes two volunteer weeks to tend buildings and gardens - one at the beginning, and another at the end of the program season (May and September). If you are interested in volunteering, see the FOHI web site "Support" tab.
The Ithaca office staff also has occasional need for volunteers. Contact email@example.com if you are interested.
40. Who owns Hog Island and the Todd Wildlife Sanctuary?
The National Audubon Society owns Hog Island and the adjacent mainland property on Hockomock Point. All residential Hog Island programs are operated by the National Audubon Seabird Restoration Program (Project Puffin), which is part of the National Audubon Society Science Division. The Todd Wildlife Sanctuary (named in honor of Mabel Loomis Todd) comprises all of the 333 acre Hog Island and Hockomock Point, where the Audubon Seabird Restoration Program has its Maine offices.
Every effort will be made to take each session on a trip to Eastern Egg Rock, a restored nesting colony of Atlantic Puffins. This is about an hour trip from Hog Island, and is usually possible sometime during each session. The camp trips circle the island, which usually provides excellent views of puffins flying and sitting in the water. Puffins return to Eastern Egg Rock in early April and they leave in mid-August for their winter home at sea. The September programs will not see puffins, but the service program in September will likely land on Eastern Egg Rock to work on habitat management.
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