Waterfront attractions in Midcoast Maine
Set sail on the Schooner Eastwind, cruise around the harbor in search of whales or puffins with Capt’n Fish’s Whale Watch, take a paddle out on the Sheepscot River, or grab a picnic lunch and head to the beach for the day! In Midcoast Maine, you’ll find endless waterfront activities and things to do on the water this spring, summer, and fall.
Located at the tip of the Phippsburg peninsula near Bath, Popham is a popular spot for locals and visitors. Picnic tables, charcoal pits, a bathhouse with toilets, and freshwater showers are available in the wooded section of the park. The rolling Atlantic surf draws thousands of swimmers and surfers alike, and shell collecting is a pastime of many seaside strollers. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months, but beachgoers should note that this is a strong surf beach with undertows and occasional rip tides. Fort Popham, built during the Civil War but never finished, is located two miles farther down Rt 209. Fun Fact—the movie Message in a Bottle starring Kevin Costner was filmed at Popham Beach
Pemaquid Point, with its dramatic streaks of granite reaching to the sea, would be a fascinating place to visit even without its pretty white lighthouse. The spot is one of the most visited attractions of the Maine coast, receiving about 100,000 visitors each year. The picket fence, which is a work of art, is worth the trip alone. The lightkeeper’s house is now a museum, and there is an art gallery at the park, but the best part of this trip is climbing around on the point itself, enjoying the spectacular scenery and taking the inevitable photo of the light reflected in a tidal pool.
Maine State Aquarium
The Maine State Aquarium features extraordinary lobsters of all sizes and colors. The giants (up to 23 lbs!) like to show off their mammoth claws. Colorful marine life, including red sea anemones and purple sunstars, can be seen in the “Downeast” tank. At center stage is an 850 gallon tank that is filled with sharks and skates. Experience the thrill of petting a live shark and discover the roughness of a skate’s skin. A special attraction is the 20’ 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.
Your Downeast Clambake adventure begins with a scenic tour of Boothbay Harbor aboard the Bennie Alice, en route to Cabbage Island. There a succulent feast of Maine lobsters and clams with all the traditional fixins await you. Cabbage Island is 5-1/2 acres of unparalleled beauty in the heart of Linekin Bay. From any compass point, there are panoramic scenes to delight artists as well as those folks craving quiet and relaxation. Island activities include fishing from the dock, horseshoes, volleyball, badminton, or relaxing along the shoreline watching the fishermen haul in their traps. You are free to explore every inch of the island. In rain or fog, enjoy the stone fireplace inside the island lodge.
Your two-hour voyage aboard Boothbay Harbor’s largest charter schooner gives you time to relax and see the Maine coastline. Lighthouses, lobstermen, wildlife, and remote islands accessible only by boat dot the seascape. Herb and Doris Smith sailed around the world twice with their three children on schooners they built by hand. They are authors of two books about their world voyages: Sailing Three Oceans and Dreams of Natural Places.
Cap’n Fish’s Whale Watch has been whale watching longer than anyone in the region. Their ships are the newest and fastest in the region, and carry the latest whale tracking equipment—to let you spend more time with the whales. The galley carries a large selection of food and snacks as well as a full bar. Cap’n Fish’s on-board naturalists are whale experts and have decades of experience as the top rated naturalists in the state of Maine. Cap’n Fish also runs puffin cruises, lobster trap hauling, music cruises, scenic boat tours and seal watch trips.
In a state known for the richness of its coastline, the Boothbay Region stands out as one of the best destinations for sea kayaking, with water ranging from the open seas to calm, protected rivers. The Harbor is also home to three historic lighthouses and many public islands that can be yours for an afternoon of exploring or peaceful picnicking. Whether it be on a guided tour, in one of their rental boats or if you simply want to drop by the shop for an idea on where to paddle on your own, the staff of Tidal Transit will happily get you set up to make the most out of your vacation. Stand up paddleboards and bicycles also available for rent.
With over 30 years of experience on the rivers of Maine, Captain Dan Wolotsky will lead you to his favorite spots in the Kennebec watershed, home of world class light tackle Striper fishing. Wildlife abounds, as eagles, deer, seals, otters, and osprey are all commonly seen. Few feel the effects of seasickness in this shallow water environment that resembles a lake or a river more than the ocean where we begin. Sweet Action, a 21’ center console made by Parker Marine, offers maximum comfort in a boat of its size with its 8’6” beam. Expert fishermen will delight in the fast paced fishing, while beginners will be put at ease by Captain Wolotsky’s calm demeanor and coaching.
Located at the end of a 7/8-mile breakwater (essentially a man-made granite seawall stretching from the shore), this historic lighthouse is open to visitors only on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day weekend to Columbus Day. The last coast guard keeper vacated the lighthouse in the mid-1960’s, but in recent years, a group of committed local residents undertook its restoration and preservation — an ongoing labor of love that relies exclusively on volunteers. Built in 1900, the 25-foot lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hardy Boat Cruises
Hardy Boat Cruises’ fleet consists of just one boat, the 60-foot-long Hardy III, which serves as both a ferry (running between New Harbor and Monhegan Island) and as a sightseeing cruise boat. Each trip is fully narrated, and the upper deck provides unobstructed 360-degree views, enabling riders to observe local wildlife such as puffins, seals, whales, and bald eagles. The lower deck has covered seating and a galley serving drinks and snacks. Cruise options include the signature puffin watch, lighthouse cruise, and fall coastal cruise, all of which last 50—90 minutes. The company operates between mid-May and Columbus Day.
Maine Windjammer Cruises
Who cares if you don’t know what the difference between port and starboard is, or what to do on a sailboat when someone yells “come about!” After an overnight cruise on a windjammer, you’ll be fluent in sail speak. With 12 schooners that make up the small but mighty fleet, ranging in size and styles, this is hands-down one of the very best ways to experience life on the Atlantic—and learn the ropes, literally! Through the summer and early fall, the majestic historic vessels set sail from Rockland and Camden with up to 40 passengers on board, some ships accommodate as few as six for memorable overnight cruises, which are renowned for their delicious food too.