Places to kayak in Acadia NP

-- Last Updated: Jan-23-06 6:24 PM EST --

I'm a novice kayaker and have a recreational kayak. My wife will be renting. This summer we are planning to visit Acadia National Park for the 2nd time in 3 years. This time we will not only bike/hike but will also kayak. I've searched back on the forum archives but couldn't find a good thread on this topic:

What are some 'must-kayak' in the park? I think the Somes Sound will be one and it is convinient since we will be camping at the Mt. Desert Campground. I prefer to stay away from rough water (high boat traffic) since we're both novices and prefer to do a bit of sightseeing where we can see the park and its wonders from our boat as well as possibly see some of the park's creatures.

If it helps, we will be visiting for a week July 22nd - 29th.

Mount Desert Island/Acadia National Park
My wife and I will be at Mount Desert Campground from the 15 to the 22 july. We were there for a week last summer and we had a great time paddling. We paddled the Porcupines, Seal Cove, Hadley Point/The Ovens, and Somes sound.

There are several books available detailing paddle trips in the area, and you can try contacting the Mount Desert Island Paddlers kayaking club.

Follow the link to see some photos of the area…

Paddling MDI
If you are paddling a rec boat, I would hesitate to send you out to the Porcupine Islands and places like that. The Porcupines (for example) are just a short crossing from Bar Harbor – but conditions can (and often do) kick up in a hurry and make for a difficult and harrying return… Still there is plenty of good protected paddling: Somes Sound, Northeast Harbor, Echo Lake, Jordan Pond, and Long Pond are all very scenic. Several companies offer tours if you want to do something more ambitious.

Try Jordon Pond
Try Jordon Pond, especially early in the morning. It is small and calm. Parking is limited. The surrounding hills are magnificent. The water is clear. As it is one of the sources of drinking water for the area, don’t put even your toe into its clear waters.

Somes Sound gets a lot of boat traffic mid-day in July. Early morning is spectacular. Better options might be Hadley Point or off the bar in downtown Bar Harbor. I would recommend getting the book Sea Kayakers Guide to Mount Desert Island. Lists a variety of trips from beginner to advanced. Cadillac Mountain Sports in downtown Bar Harbor should have a copy on the shelf.

somes sound
is not always protected - try it some time if the wind is right - it can blow right up the sound and can make for some fun wave play.

Take care with guide services there
When you get there you will be possibly entranced and seduced by the numerous guide services all promising safety and adventure by taking you out in singles and doubles.

Beware, they all look reputable, but some are less than good, i.e., the pressure of money on the guides and companies may require them to take you out in less than good conditions, and to not alter the trip to go to the part of the island that is protected that day.

Realize that there are some ocean options that afford some degree of protection and may be provide a novice with enough safety margin. That said, the ocean here has huge tides, currents, and weather predictions are just that. Surprising swells, rising wind, and tide can produce huge conditions here. A day forecast for light winds may end up with 30 knot winds!

Be selective and stay with the ideas above. Easy does it with the guide companies imo.

Enjoy, but take care
There are many wonderful ponds and coastal areas for kayaking on MDI. Far be it from me to deter you from having fun and great adventures. No doubt every summer many folks so some suprising trips in rec boats there, but keep in mind the water is cold, the weather is fickle, and like mountains the ocean does not care. If you don’t have the experience and skills to make sound judgements on the ocean, you can get in trouble fast. On warm, calm days it is so easy there is a tendency to ignore how it can be. There is a kayak club on MDI with a website ( and they are a good source of info concerning trips and good guides. Based on your description, I suspect going on a guided trip would be a good idea for any trip involving being on the ocean for a substantial time/distance. Hope you have a great trip.

Ocean kayaking probably ruled out…
Based on the feedback and the stories I’ve read in the past about ocean kayaking, I’ll probably avoid the ocean altogether. It is like some of you said, a tempting adventure. I am a big guy (6’3", 230lbs) with a large frame (I used to play college FB at DE) if that gives you an idea of my physique. As a result my kayak has a large cockpit (20"x50") so I can get in and out comfortably. But that makes it less than ideal for ocean kayaking especially in rough conditions.

I will focus my trip on the flat water where I am more comfortable and perhaps try the Somes Sound if the weather is good.

For those that have responded, thank you for your insights and I hope to hear more from others. I really enjoy boards like these where I can learn alot!