Diamond Cove Maine: Visit This Elegant Hotel on A Private Island

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Diamond Cove Maine is a private island community off the coast of Portland on Great Diamond Island — and it deserves your attention.

Unless you’re a resident or home renter, the only way you can experience this truly unique escape is as a guest of the Inn at Diamond Cove.

Even better, you’ll be staying at this luxury hotel on an island with a fascinating history. This inn is set within a tranquil environment and offers comfortable surroundings, fine dining options, and poolside refreshments.

I had the pleasure of this delightful experience when I visited the Inn at Diamond Cove not long ago. It’s a trip I highly recommend if you’re looking for an offbeat Maine getaway.

Find out what it’s like to be among the few with access to explore Great Diamond Island, below.

Jackie Gately in Diamond Cove Maine

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn about the Inn at Diamond Cove and what it’s like to stay here, including:

Arriving at Diamond Cove Maine

When you disembark to arrive at Diamond Cove Maine, you’ll see that at first the surroundings look like a traditional New England seaside town.

The Atlantic Ocean laps the shore.

The harbor is nestled among native trees.

Topping the pier is a small building clad in weathered gray shingles.

But that’s where the similarities end.

Let’s have a look at what I mean.

As a guest of the Inn at Diamond Cove, a golf cart from the inn will safely deliver you to your accommodations. There are no cars to speak of on the island, and that’s part of the appeal.

Along the route, you’ll notice the buildings on the island are not shingled cottages, like you might expect to see.

In fact, you’ll see brick houses with grand white porches that look like they belong in the American South.

That’s because Great Diamond Island was once a military base.

Continue reading to find out more about the interesting history of this charming Maine island.

Brief History of Great Diamond Island

Diamond Cove Maine
The Inn at Diamond Cove offers a luxurious retreat on a historic island that’s a short boat ride from Portland.

Great Diamond Island has a fascinating past.

For one reason, Fort McKinley was established here in 1896. It served as a key military base during the Spanish American war (1898-1902) and protected Portland Harbor.

The base originally included barracks, gun batteries, underwater mine facilities, and a hospital. Over time, the fort expanded with more barracks, duplex and single family officers quarters, and a school.

The buildings you’ll pass by on the way from the ferry dock to the Inn at Diamond Cove were once military housing. They range from small residences to majestic brick homes with beautiful front porches.

As you pass by the Parade Ground, outfitted with a public pool and gazebo, you can almost imagine the lively goings on of soldiers and their growing family’s here on the base.

The U.S. Army has since abandoned the post (1947), providing a unique opportunity for travelers. You’ll can even visit the Fort McKinley Museum from May to October to take a historical tour of the island.

You might be interested to know that Great Diamond Island itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Before Great Diamond Island’s incarnation as a military base, it was an artist community that hosted such greats as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Harriot Beacher Stowe.

And before that, the Europeans colonized the island’s 416 acres of land in the 1700s, mostly for farming.

Today, less than 100 year round residents live in Diamond Cove. Save for Diamond’s Edge Restaurant & Marina, the island is off limits to the public.

That is, unless you take up one of the few rental properties or stay at the Inn at Diamond Cove.

In 2015, after loving restorations with attention to historic detail and charm, former army barracks were lovingly converted to the Inn at Diamond Cove.

The result is a beautiful, new hotel with old-world charm. You can stay in one of 44 rooms, which includes single guest rooms and suites, most of which include balconies.

In creating this family-friendly resort, the inn kept as much historic appeal as possible and added modern conveniences.

How to Get to Great Diamond Island

Of course, when you visit Great Diamond Island, you’ll need to know how to get there.

Great Diamond Island is one of the “Calendar Islands” in Maine’s Casco Bay, so-named because you could visit a different island every day of the year.

Actually, since there are 785 islands and exposed ledges in Casco Bay, you could theoretically visit two a day. But some deserve more time than others – like Great Diamond Island.

Great Diamond Island is about 2 miles off the coast of Portland and very easy to get to, by boat.

If you have your own boat, you can moor it at Diamond’s Edge Marina, provided you have reservations at the restaurant. And if you don’t have your own boat, here are two very good options for getting to Great Diamond Island, below.

Casco Bay Ferry Lines to Diamond Cove Maine

As a visitor to Great Diamond Island, you may easily arrive on Diamond Cove Maine from Portland ME by ferry. The Casco Bay Ferry lines route includes:

  • Peaks Island
  • Little Diamond Island
  • Great Diamond Island
  • Diamond Cove
  • Long Island (Maine)
  • Chebeague Island
  • Cliff Island

You’ll catch the Ferry at the Portland Ferry Station (56 Commercial Street on the Maine State Pier), but leave plenty of time to find a place to park in Portland.

If you want to use the bathroom facilities, you’ll find them at the Ferry Station and onboard the ferry itself.

The number and times of daily ferry trips varies by season, so you’ll want to check the latest ferry schedule here.

Even thought it’s a short distance, the ferry ride can take as long as 40 minutes. It all depending on the time of day and stops along the way.

In inclement weather, you can take shelter within the covered levels of the sea vessel.

You’ll find vending machines with soda and water, and are welcome to bring your own food and beverages on board.

Ferry tickets from Portland to Diamond Cove will run you just over $10 US per adult from Portland, and the ride back to Portland is free. (Bikes and animals are extra.)

If you take the ferry, be sure get off at the Diamond Cove stop, which is after the “Great Diamond Island” stop for residents.

Fun Fact: When you take the ferry, you’ll have the added advantage of passing by what’s known as Maine’s shortest lighthouse. Pocohontas Lighthouse (Echo Point) is a mere 6-feet tall, and is registered with the US Coast Guard

I’ve taken the Casco Bay Ferry to various islands in Maine, including Peaks Island and Monhegan Island (out of Boothbay Harbor). They offer an excellent, reliable service.

On this excursion, I cruised with them from Diamond Cove to Portland for a day trip. As always, it was enjoyable!

Fogg’s Water Taxi to Diamond Cove Maine

Fogg's Water Taxi interior
Fogg's Water Taxi at Diamond Cove dock

Alternatively, you might opt to take Fogg’s Water Taxi to and from Diamond Cove.

That’s what I did – and here’s why.

  • Taking a water taxi is the most direct route.
  • It takes a fraction of the travel time (15-20 min.) compared to the ferry.
  • If you are traveling with a group, it’s a fun and affordable way to arrive in style.
  • The water taxi picks you up at Bug Light (South Portland), where overnight parking is $8/night for guests of the Inn at Diamond Cove.

You’ll want to book your ride in advance with Fogg’s Water Taxi.

Fogg’s Water Taxi picked me up in a sleek polished vessel that made great time to Diamond Cove. On both my trips, the ship’s captains were friendly, knowledgeable, and expert navigators.

It was a really fun experience, and made me feel especially pampered on this trip!

Getting Around Great Diamond Island/Diamond Cove Maine

Great Diamond island is easy to circumnavigate on foot, bicycle, or golf cart. 

Plus, you can’t bring your car over anyway (no gas vehicles allowed), so it’s a good opportunity to exercise your other options.

As a guest of the Inn at Diamond Cove, you’re welcome to golf cart rides to wherever you need to go, whether that’s coming to and from the port or to fine dining at Diamond’s Edge Restaurant. (More on dining at Diamond’s Edge later in this post.)

You can also easily explore this beautiful island on foot. In fact, I encourage it.

The paths and roads meander around the island, through old growth forests and down to the sea. It’s really the best way to get a real feel of the island.

It’s almost impossible to get lost, too.

You can also explore on bicycles you can borrow from the hotel. 

About The Inn at Diamond Cove

Inn at Diamond Cove entrance with patriotic decorations

The Inn at Diamond Cove is an exquisite 44-room luxury hotel in the heart of Diamond Cove. It’s steps from the beautiful old wood forest, military ruins, and beautiful pebble beaches. 

Whether you stay in a suite with kitchenette or rent out a condo with a beautiful front porch, you’ll be delighted with the accommodations.

In addition, the hotel offers:

  • Heated pool and jacuzzi
  • Poolside bar with snacks and beverages
  • Cozy firepit
  • Lobby bar and breakfast cafe
  • 5-Star fine dining facilities at Diamond’s Edge
  • Beautifully landscaped gardens

In this review, let’s look a little closer at the accommodations.

Elegant Lobby

If first impressions set the tone, you’ll get a great vibe in the lobby of the Inn at Diamond Cove. 

In this spacious and elegant reception space, you’ll find reception desks, a comfortable seating area, a lounge, and breakfast seating (both indoors and out).

Help yourself to the cold fresh water station or log into the free wifi.

The staff goes over and above to make every guest feel welcomed, as they did for me.

Tour of My Room at the Inn at Diamond Cove

Room tour of Inn at Diamond Cove - living space
Room tour of Inn at Diamond Cove - bedroom
Room tour of Inn at Diamond Cove - kitchenette

My room was up a short flight of stairs and around the corner, offering both convenience and privacy. (An elevator awaits in the lobby as well.)

As I walked along, I appreciated the tasteful art and decor.

My guest room was quite generous in size. It provides everything I could have wanted for a 3 day stay at the Inn at Diamond Cove.

This included a comfortable and well-equipped living room/kitchenette, a separate bedroom, and a spotless bathroom.

I loved the large, light-filled spaces with high-ceilings, which offered all the creature comforts for a weekend away. 

Comfortable Living Room/Well-Stocked Kitchenette

The living area sports a comfortable couch and coffee table, an oversized chair with ottoman, task lighting, and a large flat TV.

Also in the space is a fully-stocked kitchenette. It comes complete with a sink, small refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, dishes, glasses, and cutlery.

A large window overlooks a darling little herb garden that the kitchen most likely uses.

I found this space to be the perfect setting for an evening in, or even for some light work if needed.

Private Bedroom with Lovely Decor

The bedroom is also very welcoming. Warm decor tones balanced by soft white bedding create a cozy private space, even the room is quite spacious.

A comfortable chair with a reading lamp, luxurious bed linens, a large armoire, plenty of dresser space, and ample lighting complete the scene.

Finally, a flat-screen TV is across from the bed, should you want to relax while watching. 

The bedroom is really a beautiful setting in which to relax. 

Spotless Bathroom

Off of the living space is a large bathroom.

It features vintage-look tile, and an oversized walk-in shower with rain shower head. The facilities here are immaculate and stocked with lots of plush towels and extras.

I loved the personal toiletries, like makeup remover and cotton swabs. A blowdryer and magnifying mirror completed the amenities.

It would be easy to justify staying in the comfort of my well-equipped and comfortable living space, but with so much else going on within the resorts properties, I didn’t want to miss out.

Here’s what you can expect of the hotel’s grounds and activities.

Inn at Diamond Cove’s Beautiful Grounds

Inn at Diamond Cove heated pool
Inn at Diamond Cove bicycles
Inn at Diamond Cove fire pit at night

On the Inn at Diamond Cove’s resort property, you’ll find plenty of things to do.

For one, there is a beautiful heated pool with a jacuzzi.

Plenty of lounge chairs surround the space, a soothing ambiance created by subtle music.

The pool is fenced in and beautifully landscaped. It’s open from 7:00am – 9:00pm. (The evening lights create such a tranquil escape!)

Plus, you’ll find a tasty Cabana Bar and cocktails made to order (11:00am – 3:00pm).

Right outside the pool area is a roaring fire pit. Here, you can relax in Adirondack chairs around a glowing fire set within a gorgeous landscaped terrace.

You can also make s’mores here – just ask the hotel for the fixings!

A short walk from the main hotel is another entertainment venue – an old fashioned bowling alley! Here, you can try your hand at Duckpin bowling.

Other noteworthy ammenities available at the Inn at Diamond Cove include:

  • Tennis courts
  • Indoor basketball court
  • Game room
  • Playground
  • Yoga Studio

Dining Options At the Inn at Diamond Cove

You’ll have plenty of dining options on Great Diamond Island, most provided by the Inn at Diamond Cove. Choose from their 5-star waterfront restaurant, Diamond’s Edge, the Cabana Bar, the Lobby Bar & Cafe, and the Diamond Edge Market.

I’ll share my dining experiences with you, below.

Diamond’s Edge Restaurant | Diamond Cove Maine

Diamond's Edge Restaurant - crab cakes
Peeky Toe Crab Cake
Jackie Gately of Enjoy Travel Life with drink at Diamond's Edge Restaurant
Casco Bay Sunrise
Diamond's Edge Restaurant - scallop entree
Bronzed Diver Scallops with a Lemon-Caper Butter Sauce

For a delicious meal in casual-luxury, you’ll definitely want to head on over Diamond’s Edge Restaurant & Marina.

Not only do the hotel guests enjoy dinner here, but folks from the mainland arrive to experience this delicious dining venue.

The restaurant is set right on the edge of the ocean, with outdoor tables overlooking the harbor. It’s an upscale dining experience, but well worth it.

I enjoyed a delicious dinner here with gentle ocean breezes as I watched the sunset, just steps from the shore. 

Or, you can enjoy the upscale vibe inside, if you prefer to dine indoors. 

It was hard to choose from the menu, since all the offerings sounded delicious. Here’s what I decided upon.

For starters, I ordered a tasty drink: the Casco Bay Sunrise. Made with Milagro Silver Tequila, Grand Marnier, Fever Tree Sparkling Pink Grapefruit, and Fresh Line, this is one refreshing cocktail!

Diamond’s Edge has an excellent selections of wines, beers, and signature cocktails.

I’m a one drink kinda gal, but I would have also liked to try the Urchin Goddess. (The name alone is intriguing!) This cocktail is a blend of Barcardi Silver, Citrus, Midori, and Creme De Coconut. It sounds like a perfect island beverage.

Now, let’s talk about the delicious food I enjoyed at Diamond’s Edge.

The starters menu is robust, with options from Crinkle-Cut Truffle Fries with Garden Herbs and Parmesan, New England Clam Chowder, Maine Farmers Board, and the indulgent Chilled Seafood Platter for Two.

This seafood lover’s platter includes: Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, 1/2 Chilled Maine Lobster, Poke Tuna, Peeky Toe Crab Salad, Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce, Horseradish, and Grilled Lemon. I might have chosen this, but as I was dining solo, it would have been too much food for me and I wanted to try other things.

So, I chose the Peeky Toe Crab Cake for my appetizer. (Peeky Toe is a Maine rock or sand crab, and I can vouch for it’s deliciousness.)

This generous crab cake portion was service with Citrus Aioli, Gazpacho Vinaigrette, and a Pea Shoot and Radish Salad. Not only was it phenomenal, but it was a work of art!

As an entree, I went with the Bronzed Diver Scallops with a Lemon-Caper Butter Sauce. It came with rich Maine Potatoes, Jumbo Asparagus, and Quick Pickles. So good!

One of the great things about this dish is you can customize the freshest catch with your choice of sauces.

I chose the scallops from an incredible selection of Cedar Planked Salmon, Grilled Swordfish, Traditional Baked Hadock, Blackened Tuna, Pollen Dusted Halibut.

And for the sauce, it was even harder to narrow down: Herb Chimichurri, Romanesco, Gazpacho Vinaigrette, Pickled Pepper & Herb Tartare Sauce, or Carrot Butter Sauce.

Mind you, this is just one section of the entrees menu.

You might like to select a Traditional Lobster Bake, Maine Lobster Roll, Maine Lobster and Crab Ravioli, or the Twin Beef Tenderloin.

Finally, for dessert, I went with the Mini Chocolate Bundt Cake. It was served with Chocolate Ganache, Coconut, and Chocolate Wafer. This was a scrumptious way to end my meal, but I would have also been delighted by the Berry Cobbler or Classic Creme Brulee.

During my dinner, I loved seeing large tables of families enjoying buckets of clams and corn on the cob. It was a casual affair, where the children could run around without disturbing anyone.

It’s no wonder this place is a draw.

Diamond's Edge Restaurant - chairs overlooking water
Relax after dinner at Diamond’s Edge Restaurant with a cocktail and a gorgeous view!

The Lobby Cafe & Bar at the Inn at Diamond Cove

I dined in the Lobby Cafe for breakfast twice during my stay at the Inn at Diamond Cove. Both times, it was lovely.

For my first breakfast, I was still full from the outstanding dinner I had at Diamond’s Edge. So, I opted for a delicious cup of coffee and fresh fruit with yogurt and toast. The following morning, I indulged in the house-made French Toast with bananas and Nutella, authentic Maple Syrup, sausage links, and fresh orange juice.

I loved eating outside under the porch surrounded by the beautiful landscaping. The table service was wonderful and my meals were delicious.

One evening, I opted for Twin Lobster Rolls at the Lobby Bar, served with lemon and Barbecue Chips. I paired it with an old-fashioned “Maine Root” root beer and thoroughly enjoyed every last bite. It was so convenient to have this meal available just a few steps from my room.

Breakfast at the Inn a Diamond Cove - fruit plate
Lunch at the Inn a Diamond Cove - lobster roll

Other Dining Options on Great Diamond Island

While the Inn at Diamond Cove offers several excellent dining options, you can also check out Crown Jewel (open seasonally).

At this woman-owned restaurant, Portland chef Jef Wright offers up some truly fresh and unique dishes, from Oysters with a miso­-mushroom butter, Mussels Escabeche, and a delicious Strawberry Smash cocktail.

Diamond Cove Maine | Attractions

View of Crow Island from the Moon Garden Lookout.
View of Crow Island from the Moon Garden Lookout.
Picnic table in the woods overlooking the beach at Great Diamond Island
Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy overlooking the beach.
Old growth forest on Great Diamond Island Maine
The Old Growth Forest in Diamond Cove Maine stands to preserve acres of a natural habitat
Military ruins of the United States' coastal defense system in Diamond Cove Maine
Military ruins of the United States’ coastal defense system of Portland Harbor
Scenic Ice Pond in summer on Diamond Cove Maine
View remnants of the old Ice House alongside the scenic Ice Pond

While this island might be small, there’s plenty to do. Here are just a few ideas you might want to try while you’re staying at The Inn at Diamond Cove.

  • Collect a couple pieces of sea glass at Sea glass beach
  • Gaze at the ocean and hog Island from the Beautiful Lookout garden
  • Get sundries and high quality groceries at Diamond’s Edge Market
  • Dine at Crown Jewel
  • Visit the Fort McKinley Museum
  • Stroll along the path through the Old Growth Forest
  • Examine the military ruins
  • Walk the perimeter of the picturesque Ice Pond
  • Have a picnic lunch overlooking the beach
  • Take a day trip to Portland

Final Thoughts on Visiting Diamond Cove Maine

This lovely little community is truly a diamond of a find. Not only does it offer a relaxing place for a weekend getaway or longer, but it’s a great place for military history buffs, too.

Not to mention, Diamond Cove Maine makes a fabulous place to host a wedding or private event. 

If you get the chance to stay at the Inn at Diamond Cove and explore Great Diamond Island, you can check it out for yourself. I’m pretty sure Diamond Cove Maine is unlike anyplace else you may have been.

Next Steps

For more helpful information about visiting the Portland Maine area and beyond, read these articles next: