Kayaking Coast of Maine

I’m considering doing a vacation on the Maine coast next year. I am pretty flexible about when, but it can’t be in the fall. I’ll have about 10 days. I won’t have any gear, but I’ll have a car. My husband and I are both Level 4 seakayakers. It will probably be just the two of us.

My questions:

  1. When is the best time of the year to go given wind and flying bugs. I don’t want a huge amount of either. We don’t have many flying insects where I live and those pictures of legs covered in black flies give me the willies with or without a drysuit.

  2. Where would be the best place to rent quality gear? Preferably either relatively near the Bangor airport, or someplace on the way between there and the coast.

  3. I intend to do some kind of half-day to full-day kayaking trip every day, but for the evenings I’d like to stay in some quaint little town(s) with decent restaurants near points of interest (especially historical, geological, wild life, etc. I’m not much interested in shopping). I don’t mind driving from whatever little towns we stay in to launch sites and I prefer small and rural to big and busy. So what are the towns, points of interest and paddling destinations I should not miss?

  4. Are there any guide books or other sources of information you would recommend?

    Thanks for any info.

Black flies
Black flies seem to have frightened you too much. They are seasonal and easy to avoid. 100% deet is effective. Go here for information. http://www.mainenature.org/blackfly/blackflyinfo.html

Not so much frightened as deep in the
"eeeew" factor. Thanks for the info, it will definitely help.

reference materials
two books. One by Lee Bumstead entitled Hot Showers. Its about accommodations with kayak access or ramps right nearby.

Also Dorcas Miller’s book Kayaking the Coast of Maine: A Paddlers Guide to Day trips from Kittery to Cobscook.

You dont say when you will be coming aside from not fall but in the summer Stonington is too popular: its got an amazing collection of islands off it. Isle au Haut with the right conditions can be kayaked to in a day. Its about 15 miles round trip(it can be circumnavigated too but very carefully) Stonington is about two hours south of Bangor.

You might want to keep Down East…Cobscook Bay is beautiful with an extreme tide range. Jonesport is also a nice authentic town.

Blackflies need moving fresh water. Not salt. Never mind them. If bugs are your fear, I am afraid you should not kayak in Maine ever. Mosquitoes can be found in salt marshes year round–though DE doesnt have many salt marshes and sand fleas seem to be a year round thing. Bugs will appear from the detritus left by storm tides if its hot and sunny.

Bar Harbor
My recommendation is you consider staying in or near Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor is located right at the entrance of Acadia National Park. I don’t live in Maine, but have vacationed in Maine twice, both times staying in Bar Harbor. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to kayak there, there are some gorgeous locations I would love to try.

Avoid big tourist spots
Acadia is beautiful. Everyone should visit it once in a lifetime. And many do, creating traffic problems, both on land and water. At times even the pedestrian walks are crowded. Consider other places like Greenville on Moosehead Lake for fresh water paddling. Camden (high end) and Machias (rural and quaint) are good for both fresh water and salt water. Other spots are too wonderful to be mentioned in a public forum like this. We hermits don’t want them visited by others. Sorry.

Well I will!
Ocean Point in East Boothbay is a wonderful place to launch in the right conditions for an eight mile round trip paddle to Damariscove Island…

Also the tidal rivers are nice like the Kennebec south of Bath.

Muscongus Bay is bordered by quiet towns and is a wonderful shade of blue. Also has the highest concentration of lobster pots/buoys.

Welcome the tourist for they bring money to us.

Rentals; Maine Kayak on Pemaquid Point (south of Damariscotta)

others listed at http://www.kayakonline.com/maine.html

I love to paddle around Mt Desert but dont in the summer. Fall is better and winter the best. Its too crowded for me in Bar Harbor now. I like Christmas when the population is about 1000 and the stores are closed. Of course then its harder to find a place to stay and the sportsbar is the only place to eat.

If you come in Sept the winds should not have kicked back in. Spring is really wild and so is Oct on.

Paddling Maine
Checkout the Maine Island trail web site. join the MIT. The book you will get will give you all the info you will need to paddle along the coast of Maine


– Last Updated: Jul-17-07 12:41 AM EST –

I'm a registered Maine sea kayak guide and do guided tours in the Stonington area, including overnights and trips out to Isle au haut and back--I also paddle in the Penobscot, Frenchmen's and Blue Hill Bay areas--Stonington is really the best place to go soley for the kayaking---and usually is not all that crowded even if you want to camp on the islands---which is free and open to anybody on the public islands, if you want to camp on other private island on the Maine Island Trail then you should join MITA. If you simply want to do day paddles then this would not be an issue--there are campgrounds with showers and baths, numerous bed and breakfasts and private cottages you can rent. My buddies from Bar Harbor whom I paddle with frequently were favorably impressed when I took them paddling from stonington to Isle au haut. and BTW Stonington is only 1 and 1/2 hours south of Bangor, not 2---there is a downside and that's the night life---some restaurants and an "opera house" that occasionally will host concerts but nothing else---bar harbor is the place for that---or better yet Portland if you want to paddle in Casco Bay if you do go to Bar Harbor the better paddling is on the west and south sides of the island out of Southwest harbor or Northeast harbor to the Cranberry Islands, Seal Cove(not Seal Harbor) to Tinker Island, Pretty Marsh to Bartlets and also Sommes Sound out of Sommesville or Northeast Harbor depending on the tide. Paddling out of Bar Harbor to the Porqupines is nice but there are a large number of outfitters running tours in that area so it does tend to be crowded.---Dorcas Miller's book is a good resource as is Shelly Johnson's 40 sea kayaking trips in Maine.

don’t worry about the black flies, they are really not an issue along the coast


– Last Updated: Jul-17-07 12:44 AM EST –

some one mentioned Mooshead Lake near Greenville--some of my most memorable trips have been on this lake its between 35 and 40 miles long--and about 6-10 miles wide in most places except Kineo It also has 35 free campsites with outhouses, picnic tables and fireplaces at various locations around the lake---and Greenville for a small town in extreme rural maine does have some nice restaurants and some night life---the paddling once you leave Greenville and Rockwood is large ocean like conditions sans tides--and unlike the coast or smaller lakes you won't be dodging lobster boats or jet skis==black fly season starts at the end of May and lasts until the middle of July---I did a circumnavigation of the lake in August 04 and didn't see one. If you can get past the fact that the water is fresh and not salt, it has some of the best paddling here

tons of paddling around the island, I defintely wouldn’t avoid the place in the summer - you can get out on the water and amongst the off shore islands and not see a soul, especially midweek. And the views are drop dead gorgeous. Gas prices has actually kept alot of the motoring yahoos down this summer. There is a free bus that runs on the island that makes it fun and easy to leave your car, paddle off - catch the bus back to your car.

Boat rentals? skiracksports.com in bangor or maybe aquaterra on the island might rent you boats if you contact them prior.

Drop me a line if you need some trip suggestions.


– Last Updated: Aug-07-07 9:35 AM EST –

Hey, a bunch of friends did some kayaking while camping at Old Quarry, we did the Isle au Haut trip to the lighthouse and back and explored the various MITA islands there as daytrips. It was 4th of July and we caught a fair and fireworks from downtown in stonington so there are more than opera and theater there. :-)

Just ribbing, I like it that way really...

One must check out Crotch island ;)