Celebrate the rich heritage, culture and dramatic natural beauty of Maine's Coast
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Real pirates in Maine are now a thing of the past, but there are still several opportunities to enjoy pirate-themed fun. Historical Pirates in Maine The first pirate known to operate off the coast of Maine—and perhaps the best known—was an Englishman named Dixie Bull. Dixe (or Dixey). Born in the early 1600s in eastern England, Bull sailed up and down the coast of New England, trading English knives and beads for fur. In 1632 while docked in Penobscot Bay, Bull’s ship was robbed of all of its valuable merchandise. Unable to recover his property, Bull sought revenge and turned to piracy, and became known for plundering small settlements along the Maine coast, most notably at Pemaquid.
The coast of Maine is designed by nature as a prime playground for kids. Most obvious are the miles of beaches all along the coast. The water can be a bit chilly, but kids don’t seem to mind. Favorites for the littlest ones are Long Sands in York, Crescent Beach, Ogunquit and Lincolnville Beach which has a long stretch of shallow water perfect for splashing and making sand sculptures. Old Orchard Beach with its arcades and shops is a favorite with teens. Bar Harbor is a great lesson in understanding the tides with the bar that is completely covered at high tide and walkable at low tide. Just keep an eye on the changes to keep from being stranded!
What could be finer than great food on board a magnificent sailing schooner in Penobscot Bay or a river boat tour with an oyster tasting? Maine’s schooner fleet has always been renowned for its food with several boats boasting true cuisine fit for the most discerning foodie. On the J&E Riggin, Chef Annie Mahle has honed her craft with both knife and pen. Her first cookbook titled At Home, At Sea, was highlighted on the Today Show and her food has been featured in dozens of national media outlets including the Food Network and Bon Appetit Magazine. The wonderful menu adds to the historic feel of the cruise, and much of what is offered comes from local farms and Annie’s ever expanding garden. Beginning with the highest quality and freshest ingredients allows for simple yet elegant meals that are both healthy and charming. The newly rebuilt Ladona takes dining to a new level on board. The food on Ladona reflects the restrained decadence and pure aesthetic of sailing in Maine. Produce is fresh, local and carefully prepared. Applying their professional expertise and personal style, Captain Noah and Jane Barnes transformed their beloved Stephen Taber’s traditional classic comfort food to the […]
Maine’s coast offers many opportunities to get up close and personal with a variety of sea life. To keep it simple, a walk on the beach and an exploration of tide pools will turn up crabs, sea snails and anemones. A visit to the Maine State Aquarium offers more options. Located on the water in West Boothbay Harbor, Maine, the aquarium is operated by the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The main gallery resembles the rocky coast of Maine. A collection of regional fish and invertebrates can be seen hidden within the granite-like cliffs. The aquarium features extraordinary lobsters of all sizes and colors and colorful marine life. A special attraction is the 20 foot long elevated touch tank that houses a multitude of invertebrates. Feel the spiny skin of a sea star or sea urchin and get squirted by a sea cucumber or scallop. Watch the moon snail pull in its enormous “gooey” foot and be fascinated by the sea star retracting its stomach. To get an even more “real ocean” experience, take a “dive-in” theater cruise. Diver Ed’s Dive-In Theater is a two- or two-and-a-half-hour scenic boat ride out into Frenchman Bay in Acadia National Park, where Diver Ed […]
The story of coastal Maine is the story of ships of all sizes, and across Maine there are schools that teach the art of boat building. Take a class or just come by one of the schools to see how it is done. Located in the tiny coastal town of Brooklin, the WoodenBoat School is an extension of WoodenBoat magazine. This well-known boat building and sailing institution has provided “access to experience” for thousands of people in construction, maintenance, repair, design, seamanship, metal working, canvas work, photography, and other related craft. Emphasizing “hands-on” learning in a relaxed setting, the WoodenBoat School is a meeting ground where folks of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels can gather to meet, live, and work among others who share similar interests. In Rockland, at The Apprenticeshop the core traditional boat building programs include the 2-year Apprenticeship Program, an intensive experience designed to teach all aspects of traditional wooden boat building; the 12-week Small Boatbuilding Program, a shorter course designed to give participants an understanding of basic traditional boat building; and the Extended/Advanced Intensive Program for those with previous woodworking or boat building experience. The Carpenter’s Boat Shop in Bristol takes a slightly different […]
You might not automatically think of gardens when you think of maritime Maine, but there are a host of beautiful seaside spots in bloom all season long showcasing a range of styles from historic to modern. In the southern end of the state, Historic New England’s Hamilton House, located on a bluff overlooking the Salmon Falls River has restored gardens that are faithful to their historical origins and provide a great beginning for a tour of Maine gardens. Heading north to Boothbay, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is a must see for garden enthusiasts and anyone with an eye for nature’s beauty. After 16 years of planning, planting, and building, the grand opening of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens was celebrated on June 13, 2007. Today the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens comprises 270 acres of tidal shoreland and in 2014 welcomed more than 100,000 guests throughout the year. The gardens have an array of plantings, ponds, and garden structures, providing many opportunities to stroll, sit and admire. Even further north are the famous azalea gardens at Asticou in Northeast Harbor. The beauty of the Azalea Garden changes and evolves throughout the year. A flowering cherry tree heralds the start of the […]
Maine’s Maritime Museums are Troves of Treasures to Explore
Maine Open Lighthouse Day happens every September, and with over 60 lighthouses dotting Maine’s coast, visitors should consider lighthouses as a theme for their vacation. Lighthouses are both historically significant as well as visually interesting, and come in various shapes, sizes and monikers. From the oldest lighthouse in Maine—Portland Head Light located in Cape Elizabeth and completed in 1791—to Whitlocks Mill Light—on the St. Croix River and the most northern in the state—these “Beacons of Light” were instrumental in helping sailors navigate the difficult waters and craggy shores that make up Maine’s tremendous coastline. (Image: Portland Head Lighthouse by Rapidfire)
What is it about puffins that is so intriguing? Is it because they are both cute and strange looking (think a penguin with a clown mask on) at the same time and have a funny way (think Charlie Chaplin) of walking? Is it the clever way they line up a row fish on their beaks, ready to offer their young a smorgasbord? Or perhaps it is that the only puffin habitat in the U.S. is exclusively in Maine (puffins are much more common in Iceland and Norway, Greenland), and we’re proud that, in just over 100 years, we have helped the population here surge significantly. In 1900 there were only two Atlantic puffins known to nest in the United States, right on Maine’s barren Matinicus Rock. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 put a stop to puffins being hunted both for their prized feathers and eggs, and other more recent endeavors such as the Project Puffin Audubon Society, have helped with the great progress made on behalf of increasing the puffin population. Today, Maine provides a summer habitat for approximately 4,000 puffins each year. A long way from just 2! Whatever the reason we find ourselves charmed by these […]
The Following Article is From an Interview of Meg Maiden by the Maine Office of Tourism | Photo Courtesy of Schooner Stephen Taber Thank Captain Frank Swift. It was his notion back in the 1930s to turn the classic ships now known as windjammers into places where people can relax, cruise and have the seafaring experience of a lifetime. Those old ships, which were used for shipping cargo, were becoming obsolete with the birth of the steam engine and the emergence of railroads. But Captain Swift had other ideas—and the ships were saved, giving birth to an experience that is quintessentially Maine. Today, windjammer cruises are incredibly popular, appealing to couples, families and groups of people just looking for a little fun and adventure on the Atlantic. Captain Barry King, who helms the Schooner Mary Day out of Camden, follows in the footsteps of Captain Swift. “There’s nothing about my job that’s boring,” says Barry. “Sailing is pretty darn exciting, and we never know where we’re going.” Yeah, you read that right—windjammer cruises don’t follow a set course or itinerary. “If you’re the kind of person who is wound up and needs a schedule and an itinerary, this isn’t the […]
One of Maine’s most significant maritime traditions also involves a favorite Maine pastime: eating lobster! Sitting down to enjoy the delicacy is definitely the end goal, however it’s also important to take time to understand how Maine’s signature seafood item gets from the water to the table. Before donning the bib, cracking the claws and dipping the tail into the drawn butter, consider several ways of taking the time to understand the evolution of the iconic Maine lobster. CHECK OUT THE (ART-Y) FACTS There are a number of museums in Maine that have exhibits, collections and activities dedicated specifically to the Maine lobster. Visit the recently opened Lobstering & the Maine Coast at the Maine Maritime Museum, the largest permanent exhibit that tells the authentic story of Maine’s most iconic fishery. When you’re on Islesford, head to Boats and Buoys, Lobstering on Little Cranberry Island at the Islesford Historical Museum and check out this community-curated exhibit that features imagery and hands-on activities to celebrate the men and women who have fished the waters around Little Cranberry Island for generations. And if you’re island hopping, you can go over to the Swan’s Island Lobster & Marine Museum to experience how, through […]
Everyone knows that lobster is the quintessential Maine food, however we also have another “secret weapon” in our larder. The same marine ecosystem that produces Maine’s succulent lobster also works for producing some amazingly noteworthy oysters. The region’s cold, pristine waters and sheltered, tidal rivers are optimal for Crassostrea virginica (East coast oysters), and Maine is increasingly being recognized as one of the country’s premier oyster regions, evidenced by the high product demand. To get an idea of just how prevalent oysters are in Maine, if you travel for example along the riverbanks Damariscotta and Newcastle—where many Maine oysters are grown—you will see piles and piles of middens, an indication of the thousands of years that people have been eating oysters in the area. Photo: Courtesy of Glidden Point Oyster Farm
Maine boasts over 3,000 islands, some accessible by bridge, some by ferry, some by private boat and some just not at all. Mount Desert, home of Acadia National Park, is so easily reached by car it seems not an island at all. But for a more nautical experience try an island by ferry. Off Portland in Casco Bay are six islands served by Casco Bay Lines. While many residents use the ferries to commute to work, leisure cruises are offered as well. Choose from a family trip with the kids to explore tidal pools or wade at one of the small beach areas. Escape for a romantic lunch or dinner, a day at the beach, or bring your bike and explore island life. Photo: Summit of Mt. Penobscot in Acadia by Richard Moore
Wiscasset was a prosperous seaport in the late 18th century, filled with sailing ships and international commerce that supported a sophisticated social scene. Wiscasset ships brought cargos of lumber, fish and fur to Europe returning with manufactured goods and accoutrements for the fine mansions in town. The smell of tar and the sounds of the docks filled the air. Everyone made their living from shipping and the businesses that supported it, until it all abruptly stopped with Jefferson’s Embargo of 1807. Trade revived after the War of 1812 ended, but the world of international trade had moved on. In the 1890s, Wiscasset was rejuvenated by an influx of wealthy families looking for a summer home in a quaint New England village. They were looking for a place of cool and quiet charm on the water, where cars, telephones and other modern distractions were slow to take root. These families bought and preserved the large historic homes we see today. Photo of Castle Tucker Courtesy of Historic New England
One of the best perspectives of Maine is from the water—this vantage point offers visitors views of coves, islands and harbors, all while taking in Maine’s timeless beauty and getting a sense of its seagoing history. From the on-the-water perspective, you’ll see many of Maine’s charming ports, observe animals such as seals, porpoises, and osprey, learn about the history of the region, and have unique access to seaport villages. In late spring, summer and early fall, there are a number companies offering many ways to enjoy a bay or harbor cruise with departure options up and down the coast, from Boothbay to Bar Harbor, Camden to Castine. There are also a variety of vessels to choose from, including windjammers to lobster boats to a 1934 motor yacht similar to Hemingway’s beloved “Pilar”.
“The Coast & the Sea: Marine and Maritime Art in America,” currently on exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art, is a must-see for history buffs, sea aficionados, art lovers or those who are just curious to learn more about how Maine maritime history helped shape the growth of the United States. A relatively young country, the narrative of the United States still continues to be written and its future re-imagined with each new generation. Since its founding, the “story” of the United States has largely centered around ideas of optimism, hard work, and promise, and the notion that this ideology came from an era when the country was inextricably tied to the sea is no coincidence. Throughout history, the sea has represented humanity’s spirit of hope and possibility, with the simultaneous potential for danger and ruin. In the context of a hard fought for and newly established nation, the sea represented both of these realities while framing a collective vision for the people of the United States of America. Those who live on the coast of Maine understand that proximity to the ocean and waterfronts can have quite an impact on one’s identity and on our perceptions and understanding […]
In many Maine coastal towns the maritime past is still part of the present, and Belfast is no exception. Sitting right on the water where the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River spills into the Penobscot Bay, early settlers of Belfast immediately saw the town’s commercial potential. With Belfast’s prime location, abundance of timber, sloping waterfront and proximity to varied agriculture, it didn’t take long for a strong maritime industry to develop. Photograph of Belfast, Maine by Carole Gieseke
If you’re a hopeless romantic misplaced in this century, now’s your chance to experience the salty life of the 1800s. More than a dozen 19th-century-style tall ships in mid-coast Maine are ready to whisk you back to a simpler time
When you visit the coast of Maine, you are by definition visiting Maine’s working waterfront. This was true 150 years ago and it is still true today, something for which Mainers are rightfully proud.
I love mud between my toes on a hot summer day, at the edge of the sea, pants rolled up above the knees. I love being a child again, up to the elbows and ankles in mud. I’m digging for clams to steam for tonight’s supper on the beach
In this first installment of “Finding Maine Maritime Art”, we invite you to explore three southern coastal Maine towns worth visiting, each with major historical and commercial connections with the sea, and today house galleries featuring artwork reflective of those connections.
Traveling through the coastal towns of Maine it is easy to become enchanted by the views crafted by years of weathering, carved by the salty sea. The unique people, who inhabit these communities, capture their histories in a timeless experience—one they share readily with you.
Have you always longed to travel to an island off the rocky coast of Maine, surrounded only by the beguiling sounds of crashing waves, the laughing call of seagulls, and a deep sense of peace? Let us transport you there on our vintage Navy whaleboat and make your dream come true.
The Boothbay Sea and Science Center is a community sailing and science education center offering affordable access to waterfront activities for mid-coast youth, adults, and visitors through unique sailing programs and innovative experiential learning activities.
Lobster is a featured component of many recipes enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, but have you ever wondered where those lobsters come from or what it takes to get them from the seafloor to your table? Now you have an opportunity to find out as you take part in one of the many lobster hauling excursions available in the Boothbay Harbor Region.
Over the years more harbors have joined Maine’s answer to NASCAR. The Maine Lobsterboat Racing Association, formed in 2002, oversees races and hands out awards for five gasoline classes and 14 diesel classes at the end of the season.
Hawling traps, mending nets, digging clams, raking worms, wrinkling, dip netting, seining… You can see all these activities in Downeast, Maine, where men and women make their living from the sea.
Take a look at a coastal map of Maine and you’ll quickly discover there are dozens of peninsulas that stretch like fingers into the Gulf of Maine. Each one is unique and well worth exploring, and the Blue Hill Peninsula is no exception.
The Bold Coast Scenic Byway is a 125-mile scenic driving route connecting a network of communities whose entire way of life is historically bound to its wild and scenic coastal environment.