Cruising the Maine Coast is an extraordinary journey with much to see and experience. From the sandy beaches in the south to the rocky cliffs further north, the state has so much to offer. Not only is Maine known for its luscious pine trees and red lobsters, but also for the 3,500 miles of coastline scattered with over 4,600 islands. Whether you have cruised the state’s coastline before or are new to the experience, the North Atlantic waters are waiting for you. Below is a list of Maine’s best cruising destinations.
Isle of Shoals (42.9880° N, 70.6135° W)
The southernmost destination on this list is a small group of islands that lie 6 miles off the border of Maine and New Hampshire. The Isle of Shoals is known for its rich history and remote northeastern terrain. On one of the larger islands of the group, Star Island, sits the Oceanic Hotel and is accompanied by the 5-star restaurant, the Gosport Grill. Either anchor down or grab a mooring in Gasport Harbor and experience a remote offshore adventure.
York Harbor (43.1368° N, 70.6456° W)
Locate between Portsmouth and Portland is York Harbor. Settled in 1636, this secure harbor is full of historic sites, great restaurants, and some of the best sand beaches in the state. This quaint inlet feeds off the mouth of the York River, making it a popular destination full of fishing and wildlife viewing. On shore, York Village is a short walk away where you will find an assortment of casual dining options. Town transient moorings are reserved on a first-come basis and can be accessed through the harbormaster while marinas such as Donnell’s offer transient dockage with electricity and potable water.
Portland Harbor (43.66713 N, 70.20717 W)
Up the coast just beyond Cape Elizabeth and the Portland Head Light is Portland, Maine. Portland is home to DiMillo’s Yacht Sales headquarters, DiMillo’s Old Port Marina and the famous DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant. Portland is the largest city in the state and has been a popular destination for boaters for many years. Portland is set on a peninsula extending into Casco Bay, which is compiled with various islands to explore, the most popular one being Peaks Island. Sitting in the middle of the bay between Portland and Peaks Island is Fort Gorges, a former US military fort built on Hog Island Ledge. It was built from 1858 to 1864, but no battles were fought on the grounds. The fort has become a popular place for boaters to explore.
Great Diamond Island (43.6821° N, 70.1964° W)
Another island in Casco Bay is Great Diamond Island. The serene island is a fantastic spot for lunch and an afternoon adventure. With no cars or other public modes of transportation, golf carts and bicycles are the primary ways of getting around. Grab a slip on the dock and then make your way to Diamond’s Edge Restaurant, or the trendy Crown Jewel for a splendid meal overlooking the cove. Great Diamond Island is one of the many hidden gems in Casco Bay.
Dolphin Marina & Restaurant (43.7401°N, 70.0408W°)
Located on Basin Point in South Harpswell, is the Dolphin Marina & Restaurant. This special destination is a perfect illustration of a caring, family-owned Maine business. For over 50 years, the Dolphin has provided a safe harbor with dockage, moorings, fuel, pump out, water, ice, and a launch service. Not to mention their fantastic restaurant with some of the best local seafood in the state, the Dolphin delightfully sums up a Maine ocean getaway.
P.S. Their blueberry muffins are fantastic!
Sebasco Harbor Resort (43.7671°N, 69.8625°W)
Sebasco Harbor Resort, located in Phippsburg is a pristine midcoast retreat. The beautiful destination is well protected and offers a long list of amenities. Pick up a mooring and head to shore where you will discover the Pilot House Restaurant, salt water swimming pool, and an 18-hole lush golf course. During your stay, you can get involved in other activities such as tennis, candlepin bowling, bocce ball, or working out at the fitness center. Grab some ice cream at the patio café, or sit on your boat and watch the spectacular sunset.
Boothbay Harbor (43.8523° N, 69.6281° W)
The scenic town of Boothbay Harbor is a well-known destination for many cruisers. Filled with delicious dining, picturesque views, and a number of local businesses, Boothbay is a matchless coastal town. The working waterfront delivers the freshest catch of the day to your table, and there are plenty of activities to partake in whether it be biking, scenic boat tours, shopping, botanical gardens, and much more! Boothbay Harbor is a staple to Maine’s coast.
Camden Harbor (44.2098° N, 69.0648° W)
Where the mountains meet the ocean, Camden is a delightful midcoast harbor town with so much to offer. The rolling Camden hills provide an incredible view from the water and also contribute to some great hiking for the whole family. 5 minutes away is Camden Hills State Park and Barret’s Cove Beach, located on Megunticook Lake. Downtown, you will find an array of restaurants on the water, along with multiple shops, stores, and cafés. Either dock up at Schooner’s or grab a mooring, then sit back and enjoy the spectacular views.
Rockland (44.1037° N, 69.1089° W)
Rockland, Maine is famous for its natural coastline and beautiful appearance. This small town serves as a crossroad for travelers and their local waterfront workers. Home to some great restaurants, unique shops, and some of the best festivals in Maine, Rockland is a well-known destination to all that pass by. Additionally, our partners at Back Cove Yachts build and design their world-renowned boats right in town. Rockland can be seen as an old-school aesthetic mixed with a modern touch and is a must see on the list of cruising destinations.
Bucks Harbor (44.6419° N, 67.3878° W)
Located in Penobscot Bay, Buck’s Harbor is a great spot to stop for lunch or an overnight stay. Quietly tucked away in a protected cove, this small-town Maine harbor is picturesque and takes you back decades in time. Buck’s Harbor is one of the more quiet destination on the list, for there are fewer amenities offered here, but a perfect spot to unwind and relax. The Harbor Marina offers moorings that include services such as WIFI, diesel and gas fuel, pump out, and fresh lobsters caught that day from the marina store. Just up the street from the marina is Buck’s Harbor Market, where you can grab a bite to eat and load up the refrigerator. Regardless of what you are in search of, Buck’s Harbor is a safe and quiet place where all are welcome.
North Haven & Vinalhaven (44.1324° N, 68.8753° W, 44.0487° N, 68.8367° W)
Situated in the center of Penobscot Bay are the Fox Islands, better known by their individual names, North Haven and Vinalhaven. The neighboring islands share beauty, good eats, and lots of fun for all who visit. Vinalhaven, being the larger of the two has a deep history which can be displayed through artifacts and exhibits at the Vinalhaven Historical Society. The island also offers nearly two dozen parks and nature preserves, so you are never far from scenic land. Vinalhaven is geared more towards those to come visit while North Haven is populated with a substantial seasonal crowd. Both islands make for memorable experiences to all who cruise through.
Belfast (44.4259° N, 69.0064° W)
This small city has been a tourist destination for years due to its antique buildings, incredible food options, and unique nature opportunities. The historic district, the art studios, and farmers’ markets also make Belfast a booming port. Located where the Passagassawakeag River meets the ocean, Belfast sits at the outlet of the river. There are multiple marinas here, so whether you are looking to grab some transient dockage space or a mooring away from the crowd, there are many options. Some of the popular marina options include Belfast Marina, Thompson’s Wharf, Front Street Shipyard, and Hamlin’s Marina.
Southwest Harbor (44.2798° N, 68.3250° W)
Located in one of the most beautiful places in the state, Southwest Harbor sits right below Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. Surrounded by mountains and lobster pots, this scenic harbor is a bucket list destination. Dysart’s Great Bay Marine is Southwest Harbor’s full-service marina where you are bound to be in good company of Hinckley and Morris Yachts, built right in town! Not to mention the good food, breathtaking nature, and countless hiking trails, Southwest Harbor is the pinnacle of Downeast cruising.
While there are so many more cruising destinations along Maine’s coast, this list gives some insight into what lies ahead. If there are other destinations you feel should be on the list, please let us know. Happy cruising!