Nova Scotia/Maine coast

3 of us are planning to visit (and paddle with) a friend in Nova Scotia, then take the ferry across and paddle down the Maine coast for about 7-10 days. We’ve only just started trip-planning, and won’t be going until September, but the river is frozen and it seems like a good time to ask for some people’s experience and advice. We’re members of MITA and have done a few extended coastal trips (though this is the first time in that area). Planning for this trip is one way to get through a 70+ hr work week and a long winter.


Maine Coast

– Last Updated: Jan-21-05 1:00 PM EST –

I've paddled the Maine coast from Stonington to Machias Bay. Many things to consider.

Tides: The tides are large on the Maine Coast, up to 10 feet in Stonington and 17 feet in Machiasport. I always try to plan my trips to go with the tides and consider the inflow and outflow of water in every bay and reach. You can consult for tidal info, and local charts are available from Hamilton Marine. It is also important to make sure you've placed your kayaks up well above the tidal range and tie them off as a precaution.

Weather: I listen to the National Weather Service constantly on my portable radio for any weather changes. Weather can come up fast. Wind speed and direction, height and frequency of seas, size and direction of swells always influence my trips.

Fog: The further Downeast Maine you travel, the more likely you are to encounter fog. Fog is generally less in September due to the cooler air temps, low to mid 60s, but this is still something you have to plan for as you can get totally socked in any day of the year. Ability to navigate by chart, compass and navi are crucial. A GPS with map is helpful, but don't rely totally on this!

Water Temperature: Water Temps are usually in the mid to high 50s, usually not warmer than 60. It's important to dress for immersion and have the appropriate clothing to stay warm after you get out of the kayak. A sturdy tent is also necessary as the wind can really kick up on some of these little islands.

Communication: Most people carry cell phones these days, which is excellent, but cell phone reception is spotty at best along the Maine Coast. You should also carry a Marine radio, as the nearest help will probably be a lobster boat, which seem to be almost everywhere.

This should get you started. Best of Luck!


What part of Nova Scotia?
That’s where I hang my head…if I can be of help let me know.

is it possible to do a 10 day wilderness
trip along the coast of maine? IS there enough open space to go paddling for that long without seeing people, or having to camp on private property all along the way?

Not really wilderness,but…
by no means crowded. The farther east you are generally the fewer people you’ll see. The coast is very irregular so even in popular tourist areas like Bar Harbor kayakers are pretty spread out and most of those will be in more sheltered water. If you go in June or Sept. you probably won’t see anyone except your occasionally lobsterman. There is plenty of camping along the way and you may be able to get away with commando camping but that may not be a good idea. I’m not much of a camper myself so other people might have better info for you in that area. I don’t really care how nasty the weather is but at the end of the day I’m looking for a warm bar and a warm and dry bed.----Rich

Yes I remember
your post about the blizzard last year. Don’t know any details yet, we’re staying at a friend’s house, but I don’t know where in NS it is. It would be great, especially for her, if you’d share some local knowledge…she’s a newcomer (though an experienced paddler and former guide). More details to come.

3000 miles of coast
I am sure you could spend 100 days paddling there and not see it all.

The Maine Island Trail itself is well over 300 miles long.

that’s a dream
but unfortunately life is divided into vacation time chunks.

the rest of the area…
We’re now wondering if we should stay in the area and explore more of NS and PEI, rather than paddling down maine coast. We hope to do the MIT next year over the course of a month (it will be interesting asking for that much time off). Looking at a map (I just ordered a chart of the area) I have to wonder how the crossing is between NS to PEI, maybe with a stop at Pictou Island. I know nothing of the area’s waters yet, but looking at the map it looks reasonable. We’ve done coastal paddles as long as 50 miles in a day, and crossings from LI to CT, so it looks doable, but how are the conditions and boat traffic?

Thanks for your help,


If you stop at Pictou Island:
You’ll want to never leave. Miles of deserted sandy beaches, with unbelievably warm water.

I live near the jump-off to do the PEI crossing, although I’ve never done it. Some of our club members are keen to do it, and would no doubt jump at the chance to accompany your group. If you’re used to 50 mile days, it should be a piece of cake. I’m at your service, our club site is

Feel free to ask questions there as well. The crossing from Gull point,Caribou Island to Wood Islands PEI is the normal route, and shadows the car ferry for safety. There is virtually no other traffic other than the occasional small fishing boat. VHF and GPS would be a boon, as sudden fogs and squalls are common. I can supply you with both, and can probably rustle up some charts as well. Currents at the tip of Pictou Island can be a challenge, but doable with good planning.

Some links:

it would be great fun to hook up with some locals and have everyone enjoy a new experience. That’s rare!

We have GPS and are in the process of ordering charts, thanks for that offer, too, very generous. In fact we’re going to rent a car and bring our own gear. I’m not sure if we’re going to keep the car while we’re on the water or do 2 one way rentals.

We plan on camping the whole time, in September is it easy to manage “commando” camping in NS and PEI? That’s the kind of information that’s hard to get from official websites. We’re very respectful campers.


Commando…yes and no.
Nova Scotia would not be a problem, I can suggest (or find someone who can) a few spots once you have your itinerary down.

PEI is another matter, as it is quite touristy and developed. There’s lots of Provincial campgrounds though, that are quiet, natural and friendly. And cheap. Private campgrounds are usually cramped, barren and pricey.

Another tip:
The ferry to PEI is free, but it costs an arm and a leg to get off. Some folks arrange their crossings accordingly, if they’re only going one way. One local (and occasional lurker) even walked aboard the ferry with his boat on his shoulder, made the crossing and paddled back, all free.

Who knew
PEI was so developed? I checked out the .gov website and there are a ton of provincial campsites, but I don’t think that’s what we had in mind, though the crossing looks like fun. We’re going to do some planning soon so I’ll keep you posted.

Have you paddled in Newfoundland? My imagination is running amok.