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Burnt Coat Harbor
(Hockamock Head) Lighthouse

burnt coat harbor light

Swan’s Island, Maine
Built in 1839


Southern tip of Swan's Island, marking the entrance to Burnt Coat Harbor, Swan's Island's main port. Grounds are open to the public but the tower is closed.

Latitude: 44° 08' 03" N
Longitude: 68° 26' 50" W

Historic Stories:

Swan’s Island was first explored by Samuel de Champlain in 1604 and was frequented by the local Indians for fishing and hunting. The Island’s name came from James Swan, who bought the island and had participated in the Boston Tea Party that helped to start the Revolution.

In the 19th century, the island was involved in the lobstering, fishing, and granite quarrying industries. With the increasing traffic in Burnt Coat Harbor, two range light lighthouses were established in 1872 atop Hockamock Head, a large rocky hill along the shoreline. The range lights proved confusing to many mariners, and were considered to be responsible for at least one shipwreck in each year of service.

In 1884, the Coast Guard granted the residents their requests and discontinued one of the lights, leaving the current 33-foot white square tower.

early image of Burnt Coat lighthouse

Vintage Image Burnt Coat Harbor
Light with Front Tower
Courtesy US Coast Guard

In the early 1900’s, during a fierce storm, a schooner filled with coal broke apart in a nearby ledge. The crew survived the ordeal and many local residents enjoyed the additional coal found around the area for fuel that following winter.

In 1982, the Coast Guard, trying to save money by putting a clear sealant over the browning exterior of the paint peeling lighthouse, drew numerous outcries from the locals as the lighthouse was “blending” into the landscape behind. The Coast Guard heard the complaints and repainted the lighthouse to its white exterior.

The main structural components of the lighthouse were renovated in 2006, and additional interior renovations were made on the Keeper's house in the summer of 2009.



Places to Visit Nearby:

Access is by boat only from Bass Harbor. You can take the Swan’s Island Ferry (it can take cars) to get to Swan’s Island and drive, or take a long hike to the lighthouse.

On this quiet island of 370 year round residents, you'll feel as if time has not changed in over 40 years here.
traps at Swan's Island in Maine

Everyone waves a friendly hello here. You can stay overnight at either Jeanie’s B&B, or the Harbor Watch Motel (need reservations). There are only two places to eat on this island, the Island Bake Shop, which is like going to someone's house, for lunch and breakfast in the summertime with great homemade meals, and the Boat House Restaurant, also excellent food.

There is also a quarry filled with fresh deep water to jump in on a hot day like a Tom Sawyer would. You'll also find a general store and a small beach on the island.


Directions to the Lighthouse:

Directions for a Distant View



Contact Info:
Town of Swans Island

PO Box 11
Swan's Island, ME 04685-0011
Phone: (207) 526-4279

Local Boat Tours

Boat cruises and ferries mentioned below may offer many types of cruises. Some may pass by Burnt Coat Harbor Lighthouse as part of charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, fishing tours and other types of excursions.


Sea Princess Cruises
Narrated wildlife cruises.
Box 545
Mount Desert, ME 04660
Phone: (207) 276-5352



Swan’s Island Ferry
Operated by the state on Maine Ferry Service. Swan's Island Ferry will take you to the island where you can drive or hike to the lighthouse.
(207) 624-7777
(800) 491-4883
(207) 244-3254



Sea Venture Custom Boat Tours
Very specific boat tours you can enjoy with a minimum of passengers.
Capt. Winston Shaw
Phone: (207) 288-3355
Bar Harbor, Maine



Scenic Flights

Acadia Air Tours
Flights from a Biplane or glider. Lighthouse tour includes Schoodic Peninsula, the community of Winter Harbor, the Cranberry Islands, Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor and four area lighthouses.
Bar Harbor Airport
Trenton, ME 04605
Phone: (207) 667-7627




My 300-page book (with over 360 images), Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Northern New England: New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, provides human interest stories from each of the 76 lighthouses in the northeast, along with plenty of coastal attractions and tours near each beacon, and contact info to plan your special vacations.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and attractions




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