While it’s true that there’s little yet to be discovered about the Maine coast (Maine is Vacationland, after all), the state’s 3,500 miles of dramatic rocky shoreline manages to hide a few gems. One is Vinalhaven, a tiny village on an island in Penobscot Bay that embodies Maine’s traditional seafaring lifestyle.
First things first: Vinalhaven is only accessible by ferry from Rockland, and those ferries don’t fit too many cars. Suffice to say that traveling to Vinalhaven is an adventure itself. The difficulty of getting here will surely deter some visitors, but Vinalhaven values its out-of-the-way location, and really, that’s sort of the point of visiting.
For lodging, inquire at the Tidewater Motel, a converted grist mill built across a tidal waterway that once powered the place. Rates start at a reasonable $135 for the summer, and the unique harbor views make staying there a distinctive experience. If the Tidewater is full, there are a handful of B&Bs in town. There is also a fair number of vacation rental properties on the island.
Another part of Maine’s traditional lifestyle is lobster, of course, and lobstermen working out of Vinalhaven haul in more than five million pounds of the delectable crustacean every year. In downtown Vinalhaven, you’ll find lobster in nearly every conceivable form, so take your time and let your stomach be your guide.
If chowing down on lobster and taking in beautiful scenery isn’t enough to keep you occupied, Vinalhaven’s narrow, hilly roads beckon brave bikers, while the shoreline can be explored by a guided kayak tour.
To be honest, planning a Vinalhaven getaway online is tricky, as the village doesn’t have a strong presence on the Internet. Your best bet is the chamber of commerce, a phone, some patience, and an appreciation for all things old-fashioned.
Read more of the 50 Affordable Stateside Escapes.
Have a recommendation for Vinalhaven, or another great getaway in Maine? Post your comment below!