Located off the coast of Maine, near Bass Harbour Head Lighthouse, is Swan’s Island, a 7000-acre hilly getaway with three small villages where lobstering is the main occupation. It’s a popular summer escape for outdoor enthusiasts into hiking, canoeing, fishing, swimming and biking. Sounds nice right? If that piques your interest, you may be intrigued to learn that for the remainder of this month, you have the chance to win a quaint inn located on the island, all by writing a 350-word essay. If that’s not enough, there will be $25,000 thrown in for an operating fund.

Harbor Watch Inn
The Harbor Watch Inn on Swan's Island © Harbor Watch Inn

Run by couple Dale Joyce and Jennifer Helman, the Harbor Watch Inn has been in operation since the mid-1980s. It has two standard rooms, and two rooms with full kitchens and views of the harbor. Upstairs there is a furnished one-bedroom apartment that is rented out year-round, or could serve as the new owner’s home. Located six miles off the coast near Acadia National Park, the inn attracts visitors who appreciate the rugged beauty of the surrounding area. 

Dale’s father was the first generation in his family to move off the island, while Dale summered there with his grandparents for years. A few years ago himself and Jennifer took over the inn, but in recent times Dale’s photography career has been taking off, and they have not been able to give it the full attention that it needs. Being extremely passionate about the place, they wanted to come up with an idea that ensure the new caretakers would have a deep love and understanding for the inn.

Harbor Watch room
One of the bedrooms at the inn © Harbor Watch Inn

“We could have simply listed the property for sale, but we wanted to be a bit more creative. By sponsoring this contest, we hope to transfer the property to someone who has always dreamed of owning an inn and would be successful in this setting. The response has been overwhelming! We still don't have a lot of essays submitted, but we have a ton of people registered. From what we know of similar contests, the bulk of entries come in the final moments, so we're very hopeful we'll reach our goal,” Jennifer told Lonely Planet.

Harbor Watch Competition
The competition is open until 31 March © Harbor Watch Inn

To participate, entrants have been asked to respond to a few questions and write a short essay. The essays will be reviewed by a group of independent judges headed by retired school teachers who have roots on the island. According to the current owners, the winner receives a turn-key, viable business, plus $25,000 in an operating fund to help with the transition. Entries are open until 31 March.

The island is accessible only by water, and hosts craft fairs, community breakfasts, pie auctions and chowder cook-offs, and has an artists’ open studio.

More information is available at the Win Our Inn website.

Read more: 

Have a great idea for a novel? You could win a dream getaway in the British countryside 

Now some of Maine's winter ski hubs will be year-round hiking and biking trails

Horror writer Stephen King’s house in Maine is becoming a writers' retreat

Explore related stories

Caucasian man walking on rocks near the lighthouse on San Juan Island, Washington

The best weekend getaways in the US

Mar 23, 2023 • 12 min read