Paddling and Boating

There are many ways to enjoy time spent on the water here in DownEast Acadia.
kayaking in Frenchman Bay
Kayaks rest on the Bar in Frenchman Bay.

For many who visit, the best way to enjoy the sights and sounds that make the immense coastline and inland waterways of the DownEast Acadia, would be to get out on the water. The brave at heart can take the lunge and enjoy a swim at the broad selection of striking sand or rocky beaches, or at one of our many public access areas around the lakes. There are plenty of freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities to enjoy on your own or as part of a chartered excursion.

Whale Watch
Take a whale watch from several ports in DownEast Acadia
On board a schooner tour
On board a schooner tour in Frenchman Bay.

aboard ship

Take a whale watch excursion, cruising as far as 20 miles offshore for guaranteed sightings of these great cetaceans, all the while catching glimpses of harlequin ducks inshore and playful seals and dolphins further out. We have excursions aboard schooners restored or replicating days of yore, genuine lobster boats—with pot-hauling demonstrations, and beautiful Friendship sloops—the original lobster fishing boats before the motorization. Many large excursion boats include naturalists who will narrate the sights, or even musicians singing chanteys; on smaller boats, you’ll enjoy getting to know the owner/operator regaling you with local knowledge. You’ll have your choice of morning, afternoon, and sunset cruises. But bring an extra jacket: Ocean air is much cooler than shoreside.

We have marinas and services for you to bring your own boat; or you can rent a small sailboat, kayak, or canoe; or charter a crewed or un-crewed yacht. You can hop on a ferry to the offshore islands, or take a lighthouse tour. And small boaters will be delighted to explore the Maine Island Trail, a 375-mile water trail from the New Hampshire border to Canada, connecting over 200 wild islands and mainland sites open for day use or overnight camping.

public boat launches

Looking for a place to launch your boat? The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands lists hundreds of public boat launches across the state and includes a map to show you how to find them.

Freshwater Canoeing and Kayaking

Canoes and kayaks are the perfect way to explore. You can paddle lakes, ponds, and bogs or venture into the protected bays, marshes, and estuaries along the coast.

Forests, mountains and lowlands are laced with a vast network of watersheds, offering paddlers a wide range of choices, from gentle current to raging whitewater. Canoe trippers can spend several days paddling and camping the our rivers, seeing pristine woodland rich in wildlife and history, with beautiful primitive campsites along the way. You can paddle in a park or in our public reserve lands. Canoe outfitting, rentals, shuttle services, instruction, and guided trips are available, whatever your interest or ability.

Both Englishman Bay and Simpson Pond can be explored by canoe, kayak or SUP (with rental kayaks available for use on Simpson Pond). The pond is stocked so anglers can fish for brook trout in the spring and brown trout through much of the summer. Bait fishermen use the pond in fall and winter.

Fresh Water paddling on Grand Lake
Fresh Water paddling and SUP on Grand Lake. ©FacingWaves
Saltwater paddling
Saltwater paddling in Castine Bay

Saltwater Canoeing & Kayaking

With an unbelievable 2,330 miles of coastline, DownEast Acadia is the perfect destination for an adventurous saltwater paddler.

The region serves up some of Maine’s ruggedest coast just calling to be explored. Acadia National Parkon Mt. Desert Island, attracts paddlers because of its varied paddling opportunities and easily accessible islands, like the Porcupines in Frenchman Bay. Farther down east one can enjoy a more remote experience.

Sea kayaking can be a rewarding adventure, but it comes with inherent dangers. Always remember that even on the hottest summer day, the waters of the Gulf of Maine can be dangerously cold and the weather can change without notice.

Beginners should employ a guide or outfitter to get the most out of their experience. A few outfitters include Castine Kayak Adventures, Coastal Kayaking Tours, Maine State Sea Kayak, Sunrise Canoe and Kayak and Water Walker Kayak. All provide tours and instruction. Some offer overnight adventures or night tours to gaze at the stars or observe the bioluminescence.

Planning Tools

To help you plan your trip we provide  information on drive time and distances to and around the region. Plus info on other commercial transportation options.

Once you arrive in DownEast Acadia, you will want to access local sources of visitor information, state laws, recreation rules, and road conditions.

To help you pack or plan your day, check out the current weather in the region or learn about year-round averages of temperature and precipitation.

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