Maine Vacation Recommendations

Planning a summer vacation now, driving up the coast from CT to Maine with the family, and a plethora of bikes and boats for a week to ten days. Our final destination is likely to be the Acadia area. Wondering if anyone has recommendations for must do paddles, launch areas and the like, or can assist with connecting me with clubs in the region that could advise as well.

Thinking also about accomodations. Would be nice to do a mixture of B&Bs, small hotels, and even cabins. This is our only real vacation for the year, so doing it up nicely would be preferable-not over the top, but charming, interesting, even eclectic would be fun.

Thanks all, in advance, for any recommendations.


for paddling Mt Desert area
I would suggest a trip from Seal Harbor(not seal cove) or Northeast Harbor out to the Cranberries if the weather is good. If the wind is not blowing in the right direction then Northeast harbor up sommes sound to sommesville and return(can also do this from Southwest harbor. If you want a good beginner trip then Bar Harbor out to the Hop via the Porqupines or on the west side of the Island From Pretty Marsh harbor around Barletts Island(where the beaches are open to the public) and return—about 10 miles. If you don’t want to go more than a few yards from shore then the Trip from Hadley Point–on the north side of the Island to Bar Harbor is nice–this can be done as a one way or round trip if you have more than one car.

The best kayaking in Maine however in my very humble opinion is either in the stonington area or Moosehead lake. If you go to Stonington, there is parking at Old Quarry Ocean Adventures(for a 5.00 fee) which is a campground/guide service/kayak rental/sailboat rental resort that caters primarily to paddlers. (disclaimer—I do some guiding work for them in the summer) One way you can really enjoy the trip w/o the hassle of buying charts etc is to hire your own guide–hint hint nudge nudge—you can either go through one of the outfitters or go to the MASKGI website and pick one out.(Maine Association of Sea Kayak Guides and Instructors.) Good luck and have fun

Port Clyde
I would recommend Port Clyde as a stop for some sea kayaking. It’s a very small but utterly beautiful little Maine town, in a harbor, with a classic Maine lighthouse nearby – very picturesque. There’s a kayak rental place there, and they launch from the beach next to the pier. I’ve paddled around there and been amazed at the sights – paddling while the sun goes down, next to a classic lighthouse, with a soaring eagle over my head. Pretty breathtaking.

There are some places to stay around there, and there’s a really first-class restaurant, a classic, in Port Clyde (which is very tiny), called the Dip Net. Don’t miss it.

Maine Coast is ideal paddling…
We spend most of July every year in Friendship on Muscongus Bay. Mid-coast Maine is very beautiful. We’ve paddled from our place over to Port Clyde for Breakfast or lunch. The Muscle Ridge archipelago is also very beautiful. Acadia is hard to beat - you might want to check with Carpe Diem, Mel Rice & Mark Schoon, for suggestions in that region.

You may wish to check out the Maine Island Trail and MITA.

and when you tire (if possible) of paddl
head up to Baxter State Park for some of the most incredible hiking in the country. You’ll want to climb Mt. Katahdin, go up the Hunt Trail (official AT) and down the Knifes Edge…after paddling and hiking hunt some lighthouses along the coast :slight_smile:

Places to paddle
Too many riches along the Maine coast to handle - if you stopped for every good place to launch from you’d never make it to Mt Desert Island.

I suggest that you don’t think about getting on the water until at least the mid-coastal region, because of the above. I’d add Ray Wirth, Water Walkers out of Belfast who does trips over to Muscle Ridge and Aquaterra Adventures out of Bar Harbor to your list.

There is a guy who does close to land tours out of Friendship, I forget his name but he runs the Outside Inn B&B.

The Port Clyde thing does come with a caution if you are bringing your own boats. There is NO parking down by the docks, and precious tight space for launching. If you are going out with the outfitter, I think their name is Living Waters, they take care of those issues. They have been great to us when we asked for info on “local knowledge” type stuff - we’ve paddled over from Friendship for a late breakfast - and they seem to do a good job.

In general, I would strongly suggest that you go with an outfitter especially if on the ocean. One good fog bank can literally leave you at sea within 20 minutes, and some of these areas like Port Clyde have some really heavily traveled channels for commercial boats. If you aren’t familiar with the area one island looks much like the next. And even by late July the water will just be at 59 or 60 degrees - you don’t want to risk having to spend much time in it if you capsize.

Stonington and Mussel Ridge
You can’t go wrong with either, as both off excellent island hopping paddling. Of the two, Stonington requires less open water paddling, so if you have small kids, that would be the better place to go. There’s good camping in both places. I tend to avoid the popular tourist areas and I hear that Acadia is a zoo in the summer.

I second the Stonington area and Old Quarry although if you really want to combine the biking and hiking aspects, MDI would be really central for you and the Maine Coast is the place to be. MITA has islands off Stonington or you could car camp there and or take trips out to Isle au Haut (via ferry or you can kayak there if you’re strong enough). It’s probably too late to get permits for camping there for this year but it’s nice.


Addt’l thought about the biking
If a family grouping especially, I’d advise staying away from bike jaunts along the edges of the roads that go out to the ends of peninsulas of of Rt 1. They are windy, many blind turns and really not the ideal place for even a cautious adult to be on a bike. There are bike clubs in Maine - I’ve seen evidence of same - but for the biking part you probably want to figure only doing it on paths in state parks.

Maine DOT map
This probably doesn’t pertain to the original poster but Maine DOT used to publish a double sided map for free that listed shoulder widths and traffic density, however, looking at mDOT’s website, I can’t find it, only links to ACA’s Atlantic Coast set of maps and maine’s own Delorme company. I didn’t see where I could request them to send you the map for the entire state so I fired off an email to them. But at one time they did offer a free map that I used when i biked across the state. Probably doesn’t pertain to a family trip to Maine but if you want to explore the countryside away from the coast and away from the bike paths, it’s a good resource.

if I get a response from mDOT, I’ll try to repost it here…


good kayaking…and you can ride up and or around cadillac mountain road or mtn - there are well marked trails/road maps and i think, even a bike lane.

go early or go late…don’t go in season.

Peaks island, Casco Bay
Another option. Plenty of paddling through the islands, ferry out from Portland. You can paddle to Fort Gorges in about 15 minutes. Biking on the island is laid back, not a lot of vehicle traffic. And you can take the ferry back in to Portland for all kinds of culture breaks.

Maine paddling

– Last Updated: Apr-08-08 9:32 AM EST –

Everyone in this thread has given good advice. I'll just toss out a few other places.

Bailey Island is a bit of a tourist magnet, but there is some interesting paddling around there. You can launch at the north end of Mackerel Cove or at Land's End on the south end of the island ( A nice day trip is around the north end of Haskell then south to Eagle Island where you can tour Admiral Peary's home, which is now a state park. Then on south to the west of Broken Cove and West Brown Cow to Jewell Island. The beach just north of the Punch Bowl is a good place to land. Jewell is a little over a mile long and has some abandoned World War II coastal artillary emplacements at the south end.

Five Islands in Georgetown near the mouth of the Sheepscot River. ( From there you can paddle east through Townsend Gut into Boothbay. In Boothbay you can go south to Burnt Island and visit the lighthouse. North is Boothbay Harbor, an interesting if touristy town.

From Five Islands you can paddle east over to Southport Island then through Cozy Harbor, down the west side of Southport to Newagen Harbor. The Cuckolds with the Cuckolds lighthouse are just south of there. If you are ambitious you can paddle up the east side of Southport to Boothbay Harbor, then back to Five Islands through Townsend Gut.

Another nice paddle from Five Islands is south to Reid State Park and then out to Seguin Island. Seguin is only a couple of miles offshore, but it is exposed water.

Several people mentioned Moscongus Bay. If you put in at the Medomak town landing ( you can paddle south and visit the wreck of the Cora Cressy behind Oar Island, then on South to Round Pond or New Harbor for lunch.

There are several websites listiing launch sites in Maine:

State: (the tidal sites are seperate at the bottom of the page.


Maine Coast Guide: (use the menu on the left to select a region.)

East End Beach
You can put in at East End Beach ( for free and save the cost of the ferry. It is a short paddle to Ft. Gorges and another short paddle on to Peaks.

My Cup Runneth Over
Appreciative to all who’ve responded with suggestions, recommendations, and the like. This looks to be a wonderful trip. I was up in the area twice, but many years back; once on a cycling fundraiser trip and again for hiking/biking some of the trails in Acadia-that one was a camping trip. Really don’t remember much about the area beyond that, the lobster shore dinners and the outstanding blueberry pie. Greatly looking forward to same.

Many warm thanks,


A few more thoughts have dribbled

– Last Updated: Apr-08-08 11:06 AM EST –

out of my brain.

Get Lee Bumsted's book "Hot Showers!: Maine Cost Lodgings for Kayakers and Sailors" (

And Dorcus Miller's book "Kayaking the Maine Coast: A Paddler's Guide to Day Trips from Kittery to Cobscook" (

Or Shelly Johnson's "Guide to Sea Kayaking in Maine: The Best Day Trips and Tours from Casco Bay to Machias Bay" (

For a history of the Maine Coast: "Coastal Maine: A Maritime History" (

You should join the Maine Island Trail Association ( membership includes their "Handbook & Guide"

If you are traveling through RI, check out the Rhode Island Canoe & Kayak Association…the website is:

They already have the paddling schedule posted for the flatwater trips…and more are added regularly. Anyone is welcome to join us…just be sure to bring your PFDs.

Since you let the cat out of the bag…
…I have to agree that Bailey Island is a great area. We make a pilgrimage there with friends every July 4th weekend. There’s a tremendous variety of paddling possibilities in the area, everything from small sheltered coves to island hopping to long open-water crossings.

and off the water…
We’ve greatly enjoyed peddling (bicycles) on Vinalhaven. Taking bikes on the ferry and leaving the car on the mainland (Rockland), Vinalhaven is a wonderful place for biking.

Dont forget Schoodic Point
Its part of acadia - its over in Winter harbor…beautiful and not as popular as Bar Harbor. You can park at Frasers point and it is a one way from there and 8 miles around and back to your car. Once at Blueberry hill in the park find the Anvil trail- its a one mile hike up in a really nice moss rainforest like area!! beautiful views at the top!

btw- I belong to a rock club, and learned about trilobites last year- very neat!

have a great trip- you cant go wrong in MAine! the further north the better!!!