Southwest Harbor lies at the mouth of Somes Sound, facing the ocean, but buffered from it by the Cranberry Islands and adjacent islands. The Town was incorporated from adjacent Tremont in 1905. It has a year-round population of about 2000, which swells in summer with seasonal visitors. However, it remains a "working" town, and has not been taken over by the tourist culture. This side of Mount Desert Island is known as the "quietside." Southwest Harbor is far enough from the busier northeast side of the island to deserve this title, with less traffic and a more laid-back atmosphere. On the other hand, almost half of Acadia National Park is on this side of the island, with numerous hiking trails, ranging from mountainous and difficult to easy strolls by the ocean. The quietside is only minutes away from the busy remainder of the island, and the rest of Acadia, so a visitor has the best of both worlds.
The town continues to maintain an active fishery, and is the home of numerous well-known boat-building firms. The area's Coast Guard station is located on Clark Point. Several good restaurants are located in town as well as galleries and shops. Sailing in this area is excellent, the seafood is abundant, the sea is ever-present.