Paddling Among Lobster Pots
The salty smell of the ocean tickles your nose. A harbor seal pops up out of the water and eyes the boat before ducking back under with a loud splash. The raucous screeching of gulls soaring overhead is a counterpoint to the chugging sound of lobster boats passing by. Eagles, osprey, loons, and cormorants decorate the sky. Lobster pots bobbing in the water, weather-beaten houses along the islands’ shorelines, and pine-studded Acadia National Park (www.nps.gov/acad) in the distance all vie for attention as you kayak along Maine’s coastline. The scenery is quintessentially Maine. And you’re thrilled to be experiencing it all from your kayak.
This vantage point is peaceful, yet exhilarating. If you kayak when the water is smooth, you may feel as though you’re flying through the harbor and around the many islands that lie just off the coast of Maine. But, when the wind kicks the waves up you stop thinking about the scenery because your entire being is focused on paddling. The combination of exercise, stunning surroundings, and communion with nature is what makes kayaking here such an extraordinary experience.
Kayaking these parts is popular both with locals and tourists, so trips come in several styles. You can rent a kayak and take it out for a few hours, take an all-day guided kayak tour, do a sunset or a wildlife paddle, or a multi-day trip. If you’ve never been kayaking, guides will quickly give you basic instructions on how to paddle. Many of the tours are in two-person kayaks. Experienced kayakers may opt for a solo kayak. Many outfitters along the coast offer rentals, so seasoned kayakers can pick up a lunch, a kayak, and safety gear, and start exploring.
Coastal Kayaking Tours, based in Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, runs tours around the island, most often among the rugged Porcupine Islands of Frenchman Bay. This company offers half- and full-day tours, 5-hour solo tours, family half-day tours, sunset tours, and 3-day island camping expeditions. Maine Kayak, based in New Harbor, offers half- and full-day trips, sunset and wildlife trips, plus 2-day trips that include camping overnight on a remote island. Maine Kayak also offers 2- and 4-day “Inn-to-Inn” kayak trips, which include paddling along the coastline, exploring inlets and islands, and spending the nights in different B&Bs. Whichever tour you choose—or even if you just take a boat out for an afternoon paddle—you’re sure to remember this breathtaking landscape for a long time to come.
Kayaking in Acadia National Park.
Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Rte. 3 ( 207/288-3338; www.nps.gov/acad).
Tours: Coastal Kayak Tours, 48 Cottage St., Bar Harbor ( 800/526-8615 in the U.S. or Canada or 207/288-9605; www.acadiafun.com). Maine Kayak, 113 Huddle Rd., New Harbor ( 866/624-6352 in the U.S. or Canada or 207/948-5194; www.mainekayak.com).
When to Go: June–Aug.
Portland, Maine or Trenton, just across the causeway from Mount Desert Island.
$ Bar Harbor Campground, 409 State Hwy. 3, Salisbury Cove ( 207/288-5185). $$$ Harborside Hotel & Marina, 55 West St., Bar Harbor ( 800/328-5033 or 207/288-5033; www.theharborsidehotel.com).