ULTIMATE Guide to Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park
A trip to Acadia National Park isn’t complete without a stop at Thunder Hole. Offering breathtaking views, the carved inlet is one of the most visited Acadia destinations.
Thunder Hole is easily accessible and a natural phenomenon that visitors are sure to enjoy. Whether this is your first or tenth visit, check out this guide to get started or learn something new about the area.
About Thunder Hole
Thunder Hole is a beautiful natural wonder inlet located along the Mount Desert Island shoreline. The name comes from the sound that occurs when waves burst into the channel and air escapes, resulting in a thunder-like reverberation. The sound can be experienced before high tide or during a storm.
Thunder Hole is located in Acadia National Park in the popular Bar Harbor area. It is open year-round, making it a popular stop for tourists.
Thunder Hole’s History
Thunder Hole has been in existence for thousands of years. It’s naturally carved, meaning that no human intervention was part of the inlet’s landscape.
To access a view of the inlet, hiking paths were constructed for visitors in the 1900s. Then in the 1930s, roads were paved and a ranger station was constructed in the National Park’s rustic style. The ranger station was in service until the late 1960s when it became a gift shop.
Things to Know Before Visiting Thunder Hole
- Waves can spray over 40 feet high at Thunder Hole.
- Always be aware of weather and tide conditions when visiting Thunder Hole. The waves can result in slippery conditions, and some visitors have even been sprayed by waves, so be prepared!
- The Island Explorer’s free shuttle service stops at Thunder Hole. This is a great way to avoid traffic and parking congestion during peak season.
- There is a gift shop at the old Ranger Station that has snacks and souvenirs.
Fun Things to Do at Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park
A Thunder Hole visit is about appreciating the natural beauty around you. There’s a reason that it is so popular with Acadia National Park visitors — its unique sound, impressive waves, and accessibility make it the perfect location to stop and admire the natural surroundings.
Explore the Area
The most popular thing to do at Thunder Hole is exploring. Listen quietly for the famous thunder sounds an hour or two before high tide. If you’re there at low tide, take a walk down the stairs to view the cliff walls. The waves have hammered unique designs into the rock walls over the years.
On a clear day, you get views of Sand Beach and Great Head to the north, Otter Cliff to the south, and the Schoodic Peninsula in the distance. You’ll find perfect photo-taking opportunities along the long staircase and on the rocks and cliffs.
Enjoy a Picnic Lunch or Sunset Dinner
There’s plenty of space to spread out and enjoy a meal on the Thunder Hole rock formations. You are welcome to bring a picnic to the destination for a view while you eat.
Bring a coffee and breakfast to enjoy the cool morning breeze and crashing waves at sunrise. Or, refuel with a lunch and a gorgeous view. In the evening, enjoy a romantic sunset dinner overlooking the water. There’s no better place to take in the fresh air, stunning views, and good food.
Walk the Ocean Path
Ocean Path, a 3-mile round-trip trail, is a striking walk along the oceanside. Start at the Sand Beach parking lot, and follow the coastal path. It passes by Thunder Hole, so it’s a popular trek with visitors.
Related: The Best Things to Do in Bar Harbor Maine
Bar Harbor Restaurants Near Acadia’s Thunder Hole
The Thunder Hole area has numerous dining options for the whole family. Depending on what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find restaurants in Bar Harbor that will satisfy everyone. Check out these options for a nice meal before or after a trip to Thunder Hole.
McKay’s Public House
Located in the heart of Bar Harbor Maine, McKay’s offers pub food with an upscale twist. The menu features soups and salads and specialty appetizers, like bruleed oysters, smoked trout pate, and cast-iron brie. Typical pub fare, like fish and chips and burgers, are also on the menu.
Heartier entrees — like braised beef shortribs, New York strip steak, fried chicken, and pan-seared halibut — round out the menu. Children can order favorites like grilled cheese, mac and cheese, hot dogs, and chicken strips. A rotating selection of alcohol is available as well.
For a casual dining experience, check out Peekytoe Provisions. It has indoor and outdoor seating, as well as take-out options.
Peekytoe has so many local-caught fish options that it’s hard to decide which to try — monkfish, smelts, scallops, halibut, swordfish, crabmeat, salmon, tuna, haddock, and of course, lobster.
Customer favorites include the crabby patty burger, lobster roll, duck sausage sandwich, and fish tacos. Also, children will enjoy a fun menu that includes veggie sticks with dip, peanut butter and jelly, kiddo nachos, hot dogs, and grilled cheese.
Bar Harbor Hotels & Other Lodging Near Thunder Hole
Thunder Hole is less than 15 minutes from downtown Bar Harbor where you’ll find the most and closest lodging options. Bar Harbor hotels, inns, and more are available for all budgets.
The Inn on Mount Desert
If you’re looking for a centrally located, quaint yet modern inn, then the Inn on Mount Desert is sure to please. Just a 10-minute walk from the waterfront and on a beautiful tree-lined street, it is picturesque.
The inn offers king and double queen rooms with traditional deluxe or private terrace options. All rooms have smart TVs, microwaves, refrigerators, free Wi-Fi, and breakfast included. The terrace rooms have a balcony or private terrace. And outside, guests enjoy free parking and a beautiful garden that has bocce.
Related: Guide to Bar Harbor Bed & Breakfasts and Inns
The Acadia Hotel–Downtown
The Acadia Hotel is a boutique hotel located in the heart of Bar Harbor Maine. It is within walking distance of dozens of restaurants, bars, shops, galleries, and the waterfront.
The hotel offers complimentary bicycles to explore the area, seasonal hot tubs, free Wi-Fi, parking, and a continental breakfast.
The rooms are bright, clean, and spacious. They are available in economy queen, standard king or queen, and private balcony rooms, as well as larger suites. Accessible rooms are available by request.
For those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle and to more of a back-to-nature experience, check out Blackwoods Campground. Located in Acadia National Park, it has sites for small and large tents and a few RV sites.
Amenities include flushing toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. A true no-frills experience, the campground does not have showers on site, but there are pay showers located down the road at a camp store.
Related: Downeast Region Maine Campgrounds and RV Parks
FAQs About Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park
Is there parking at Thunder Hole?
Parking is available at Thunder Hole but can be limited. You can access parking via Park Loop Road.
When is the best time of day to visit Thunder Hole?
Any time is a good time to visit Thunder Hole. If you’re hoping to catch the thunderous sound, then the best time to visit is one to two hours before high tide.
If you’re looking for stunning views, then sunrise and sunset are the ideal times to visit.
When is the best time of year to visit Thunder Hole?
Thunder Hole’s peak season is the summertime, so it is the warmest and busiest from June through August.
If you are looking for lighter crowds, a visit in early spring or early fall is ideal while the weather is still mild. For essentially no crowds, visit in the winter months.
Are there restrooms at Thunder Hole?
Yes, restrooms are available at the end of the parking lot at Thunder Hole.
What should I bring to Thunder Hole?
It is suggested that visitors dress in layers for Thunder Hole because there can be a cool ocean breeze. If visiting during a stormy time, you may get sprayed by waves, so a poncho or light raincoat would be handy.
Wear comfortable boots or sneakers with grippy rubber soles for the rocks, which can sometimes be slick. You can bring food and drinks to Thunder Hole as well.
Plan Your Trip to Thunder Hole & Acadia National Park
Thunder Hole is a natural phenomenon that offers a spectacular experience of listening to the thunderous sounds emanating from the inlet.
Waves crashing, ocean views, and beautiful rock and cliff formations are sure to please every nature lover. On your next trip to Acadia National Park, add Thunder Hole to your itinerary.