Kayak Maine's Downeast coast

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Sunset paddling in Maine (Photo: Coastal Kayaking Tours)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on July 9, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, Alberta, Argentina, Botswana, Cairns, Chile and Easter Island, destination, eco travel, Fernie, Grand Canyon, Italy, Joshua Tree, Maine, Minnesota, Molly Feltner, mountain, Vietnam, wildlife.

Outfitter: Coastal Kayaking Tours
Price: $375

While it's only about a 300-mile drive from Maine's southern border with New Hampshire to its northern border with New Brunswick, the state boasts a staggering 3,500 miles of coastline if you total the lengths of all the peninsulas that make up its fissured coast. And that doesn't include the thousands of small islands that lay offshore. All the protected waterways created by Maine's narrow bays and islands add up to what many think is the best sea kayaking on the east coast.


There are many places offering one-day sea kayaking tours, but to really get a taste of the wilderness, you'll want to go on a multi-day trip that allows you paddle island-to-island and camp onshore. Coastal Kayaking Tours, based just outside Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, runs a three-day trip that offers a good combination of great paddling and affordability.

One of New England's most experienced and well-reputed kayaking outfitters, Coastal Kayaking operates its overnight trips along the Downeast portion of the coast near Bar Harbor. "It's the Maine coast at its finest," says company owner Glenn Tucker. "Those bays and harbors create exciting-yet-protected areas for sea kayaking, ranging from gentle gravel beaches to towering cliffs. Traveling from island to island from the unique perspective of a sea kayak is thrilling. We often spot marine life such as harbor seals and porpoises, as well as birdlife such as bald eagles, osprey, cormorants, and guillemots."

Certified guides take paddlers out in tandem kayaks, paddling five to 10 miles per day, depending on the interest and skill level of the group. You'll stop on the islands for meals and to make camp each night.

The details

The tour price covers all camping and kayaking equipment, meals, guides, and logistical support. It departs every Friday from Bar Harbor during the summer months. The town is about a five-hour drive from Boston, although you can opt to fly to Hancock County Airport (12 miles away) or Bangor International Airport (50 miles away).

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