We stayed at the Bar Harbor/Oceanside KOA Holiday campground in Maine for several nights this summer. Read our review to learn more about this campground! See what we thought about the amenities, the location and the overall experience.
Over the years, we have been all over this amazing country. We have hoped to travel to Maine for a long time, and this year, we finally made it happen. I won’t hold out on you: WE LOVED MAINE. In fact, we wish that we had been able to spend more time there. The 3 nights that we stayed on Mount Desert Island were enjoyable, beautiful and a great opportunity to see a small part of the breathtaking rugged Maine Coast. We visited the town of Bar Harbor and spent a couple days exploring Acadia National Park.
There are a bunch of different campgrounds on Mount Desert Island. These campgrounds range from full service facilities to rustic national park campground with primitive sites and no hookups for RVs. We knew that we wanted a full-hookup site (or at least water/electric) and we loved that the Bar Harbor/Oceanside KOA seemed to sit next to the water. (I love a campsite with water views!)
Campground Location: Bar Harbor, ME
At 108 square miles large, Mount Desert Island is the largest island in Maine. It is home to Acadia National Park and several towns, including the tourist mecca: Bar Harbor. It is safe to say: there is plenty to do on Mount Desert Island! The Bar Harbor/Oceanside KOA Holiday campground is located almost immediately after you cross the bridge onto the island. In fact, as you drive over the bridge, if you look off to the right, you can see RVs parked at their campsites along the coast.
We live in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia, PA and that put us just under 600 miles from the Bar Harbor KOA. We decided to break up the drive into two days, and I am so grateful that we did. Thanks to various pockets of monotonously slow traffic (especially along the I-95 corridor in NY/CT/RI), it took us 12 hours door to door. (We spent an overnight at the Mystic, CT KOA.)
Our Campsite: 222 (pull-through site, water/electric)
The Bar Harbor KOA offers an array of different types of accommodations. From full hookup RV sites (water/sewer/electric) to tent sites, RV sites without sewer, airstream trailer rentals and cabins, you can choose from a variety of ways to stay. A quick peek at their campground map shows that they do offer a number of waterfront (and near-waterfront) sites. These sites book out extremely fast and up to 11 months in advance. So if you know you want to be in one of those sites, booking early is a MUST.
We booked our site in mid-February for an early August stay. I had really hoped to be ON the water, but all of those sites were long gone by the time we decided to go to Maine. We spent 3 nights in site 222. We were able to secure this exact site by calling the campground immediately after we had booked our stay on the KOA website. Try this if there is a specific spot you’d like. There are no guarantees, but you never know. Our site was rather small, but it did have partial water views.
There were campers parked in front of us, but we had expected this and knew that our site was not directly on the water. One afternoon, the camper in front of us pulled out and we spent a few hours enjoying the gorgeous view.
Our site only had water and electric hookups. It wasn’t a big deal, though we did need to pay for the honeywagon to pump out our black and grey tanks during our second day. (We completely forgot to bring our toter tank – which would have been nice to have instead of paying the campground, but well, shit happens. HA!)
The check-in process was actually incredibly seamless. RV check-in at the Bar Harbor KOA is 3 pm and checkout is 11 am. (Note: cabins and airstream rentals have slightly different check-in and checkout times. Call or check their website for more info.
As we drove from Connecticut to Maine, I received a text from the Bar Harbor KOA offering an automated check-in process. The text told me to check my email if I wanted to complete my check-in online. I was able to follow the link in the email and complete our check-in. (Basically you’re just paying the balance that’s due on your stay when you do this, and it cuts out a few minutes you’d spend in the office.)
When we arrived at the KOA, we stopped and let the office know we were there. An employee hopped in a campground golf cart and we followed him to our site.
Campground Amenities and Facilities
At this point, we have stayed at close to a dozen different KOAs over the years. There is a reason that we tend to renew our KOA membership each year and why we seek out a KOA when traveling: KOAs almost always offer a predictable level of amenities and overall campground upkeep. We thought that the Bar Harbor/Oceanside KOA was no exception.
Beach Area and Water Access
The campground itself sits right on the water (referred to as “Western Bay” on the map I consulted). There were several waterfront public access areas where campers can explore the coastline, launch their kayak or paddleboard, etc. We enjoyed a couple of sunsets from the public beach area on the western edge of the campground. The beach isn’t sand, it’s stony and there are some really neat boulders that jut out into the water. (Make sure you check this area out at low tide. The water pulls far out into the bay and leaves many of these boulders uncovered, plus creates some cool little tide pools.)
The campground store at the Bar Harbor KOA is a typical camp store offering a selection of basic supplies, grocery items, souvenirs, etc. You can purchase firewood from the store and they will deliver it to your campsite if you want.
Lobster Trap Café
This small takeout restaurant is located right in the middle of the campground. In the morning, they sell coffee and an assortment of pastries and other snacks. For lunch and dinner you can find burgers and lobster-laden entrees. (The price goes up accordingly, we saw lobster grilled cheese sandwiches advertised for $24!) At night you can pop over and get some scooped ice cream.
This campground has a K9 park for your dog to run around and have some fun.
Playground, Yard Games, and Bike Rentals
Our kids had fun playing on the playground several different times throughout our stay. There is a basketball court near the playground. One area of the lawn near the K9 Park has some yard games like horseshoes, cornhole and a Gaga pit. Perfect for an impromptu game!
Bathhouses and Laundry
We did not use any of the bathhouse or laundry facilities during this trip, however the campground does have several bathrooms, 2 bathhouses with shower facilities and one laundry room with coin-operated washers and dryers.
Every day the campground published a list of activities that they were offering. Some were free (such as the KOA “train” that drives the kids around) and some required a small fee. Some activities were offered for free but asked for donations that went to KOA Care Camps. One afternoon our daughter did some arts and crafts under the pavilion and another night our son partook in the “make your own whoopie pie” activity.
Shuttle to Acadia and Bar Harbor
We did not experience these shuttle services, but I did want to mention that the campground has them. They are not free and I believe you have to make reservations.
This campground does not have a pool or the iconic KOA jumping pillow that is popular at many KOAs. The kids were disappointed about the jumping pillow, but definitely had fun doing other things.
The Bar Harbor/Oceanside KOA is located in a great spot for anyone hoping to explore Mount Desert Island. The town of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are two of the most popular spots to visit on the island. You can drive around the island and find kitschy shops to peek into, beautiful harbors to photograph, and little restaurants to nosh at.
Acadia National Park
The campground is about 20 minutes by car from the entrance to Acadia. One morning we drove to the summit of Cadillac Mountain at sunrise. Note: you need to purchase advanced tickets for the summit sunrise. Passes are also required for entrance to Acadia. We spent 2 days exploring all around Acadia and could not believe how beautiful it was. We were there in August and definitely experienced high crowds, so know that going during peak season will require a good amount of patience.
The town of Bar Harbor is a fun, idyllic seaport town. It sits on the northeastern side of Mount Desert Island. You can explore street after street lined with all kinds of shops. From tourist-trap type souvenir shops to coffee houses and ice cream parlors, it is a neat place to wander around. The point features a big harbor and you can sit and watch the boats sail in and out at any given time. Bar Harbor was SUPER crowded when we were there and it was difficult to find a parking spot. (We had the pickup truck since we were camping, which made parking a little extra challenging as we needed a bigger spot.)
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
A fun but yes, rather crowded, spot on the southern edge of the island. This lighthouse is an iconic Bar Harbor symbol. Want the picture we got below? You have to work for that a little bit. Walk through the parking lot and find a trail that goes into the woods. Follow the trail to a steep but sturdy wooden staircase and descend to the rocks below. Walk out among the rocks and after a few minutes, the lighthouse will appear up above you, on the side of the cliff.
We enjoyed our 3-night stay at the Bar Harbor/Oceanside KOA Holiday Campground. It was not a cheap campground at $121 per night PLUS $6 per kid per night. (Seriously, why do KOAs add a charge for kids? This always makes me feel so annoyed.)
The campground put us in a great location to be close to Acadia and Bar Harbor.
We really loved the waterfront views and agreed that we would love to stay here again.
What we liked about the campground:
- Great location for exploring Mount Desert Island
- Beautiful waterfront views (caught some gorgeous sunsets!)
- Dark skies for stargazing
- Friendly staff
What we didn’t like about the campground:
- Campsites were small
- LOUD, BARKING DOGS all over the place – constant barking all day long. Did not ever see anyone from KOA making any attempt to enforce the pet policy. We didn’t bring our dog because he barks all the time. It wasn’t fun to listen to other people’s dogs all day long.
- Mosquitoes were SO bad – we all left the KOA with bug bites everywhere.
We hope you found this review to be helpful as you plan your own trip to Maine! Have you ever stayed at the Bar Harbor KOA? Drop us a line and tell us about it!
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