Maine is well-known for its 5,000 mile coastline—from sandy beaches to lighthouses on granite cliffs. Yes, I know what you are thinking – 5,000 miles – no way! Actually, it has 293 miles if you draw a line from the top to the bottom of the state along the coast. However, the Maine coast isn’t that simple. It’s full of inlets, coves, peninsulas, and jetties (and no I have no idea what the differences are between these things!); that’s what makes it intriguing. It’s like an accordion. If you were to stretch out all of those inlets and peninsulas, you’d actually have nearly 5,000 miles of coast! That’s a lot of coastline for you to find fun things to do in Maine on the water! You’ll likely even find yourself all alone on your little piece of coastline bliss.
Most people come to see the spectacular water views, eat fresh seafood, and maybe do a Windjammer cruise. But that’s normally as far as they venture into the water in Maine. As I planned my Maine road trip, I decided I really wanted to get to ‘know’ Maine’s water beyond the lighthouses and beaches.
The Beautiful Maine Coastline
Since I like to present you with new and unique fun things to do in a destination, I focused on 4 water adventures, some mainstream, and some intriguing ones that will surprise you.
4 Fun Things To Do in Maine for the Adventurous
Surfing in Maine
I know what you are thinking – surfing? In Maine? Brrrr. It doesn’t sound like a fun thing to do, it sounds cold; that was my first reaction too. But the fact it was something I didn’t expect out of Maine is what drew me in to try it. Maine actually is a great place to surf and they have some excellent long sand beaches with good breaks south of Portland for beginners or advanced surfers.
I went to Black Point Surf Shop in Scarborough south of Portland. The shop doesn’t only offer surf lessons but they actually got their start making custom boards. The McDermott brothers, avid surfers, started making boards for friends and for themselves in 2004. They sold them out of trailer near the beach, selling about 8 in a month. Then they opened a surf shop and started producing more boards as well as offering lessons to people like me!
My instructor, Rory, took me on a short walk around the store showing me where they designed and shaped the boards. I had never actually thought about how a board was made so it was pretty fascinating to see. As of recent the brothers have been working closely with the Maine Technology Institute to develop a greener manufacturing process for fiberglassing.
Rory was a serious surfer who had lived in Maui and moved to Maine to surf in less crowded conditions. When people leave Maui to surf in Maine then it must be a seriously good place to catch a wave! When I asked about the different designs and sizes of boards in the shop Rory explained, “Short boards are like punk rock, they are aggressive. While long boards are like ballet. You’ll be doing ballet today with me.”
Luckily I didn’t have to put on a tutu, but I did put on a wetsuit as I prepared for my lesson with Rory and the cold Maine water. You sign up for the lessons at the store, and then drive to the beach a few minutes away. I started my lesson in the sand practicing the process I am all too familiar with but have never mastered – the art of how to get up on a board. Then as the sun was getting lower we walked out into the waves and I braced myself for the cold water. To my surprise, it wasn’t actually very cold at all. Sure the wetsuit helps – but it really was pleasant in August. Within seconds my fear of the cold water was gone, and was replaced by the fear of the giant waves crashing towards me.
As with most surfing, I find some of the hardest part it simply learning how to maneuver through the waves and get out to a point where you can catch them. I was really surprised at how great (and big) the waves were for learning. Rory and I had a great night working on my form and balance…and stamina!
How to Catch a Wave in Maine
Fishing is a primary pastime for many locals, as well as tourists in Maine. My brother and I used to go fishing at a little lake in the countryside where we lived. It was an exercise in hope. We’d spend hours putting worms on the line, throwing our little bobbers in the water and waiting, waiting, waiting. As an adult I’m not very good at being still, yet for some reason fishing has always intrigued me. Maybe because I think it’s an exercise in stillness. I had tried ice fishing in Canada before, but I had never done any summer fishing since I was a little girl.
Turns out Maine is the perfect place to learn to fish since they have a whole association of guides trained to do just that – teach you how to fish. I went out with Maine Guide, Don Kleiner, for a day of fishing in fresh and salt water. He picked me up with his boat in tow and supplied all of the gear.
Maine guides make your time on the water worth it. The association, created in 1897, is world renowned with a rigorous process of getting certified. To be a Maine Guide you need 3 years experience, CPR training, and must pass a written and oral test. And here’s a fun fact – the first Maine Guide was a woman nicknamed ‘Flyrod Crosby’ back in 1897!
I was able to get the hang of casting pretty quickly thanks to really great equipment I was using and Don’s instruction. However, the catching part was hard. But, by the end of the day, I was actually catching fish – albeit rather small. But hey – I just told myself that catching small fish is much harder than catching big fish!
My day with Don was one of my favorite ways to be out on the water in Maine. We had sun, great views, and tons of laughs all day.
Want to try your hand at fly fishing in Maine (I did that too!), then check out a Maine Sporting Camp, and hire a Maine Guide to take you out to all of the secret spots!
How to Find Great Fishing in Maine
Kayaking in Portland
Most people stick to the shore in Portland enjoying their amazing foodie tour offerings, but my goal was to get closer to the water in Portland. There’s no better way to get closer to the water than kayaking! Portland Paddle has a few options for getting on the water in Casco Bay. You can kayak or stand up paddleboard. I did a sunset kayak tour; what better way to see the bay and Portland from a new perspective than in the golden hour!
Portland Paddle furnishes everything you need and a safe place to store your stuff back on shore. They provide instruction for beginners and soon you and a partner are off into the Casco Bay! We followed our guide along the coast as he pointed out birds and different islands sharing the history and culture of the area. We paddled all the way into the port passing bigger cruise ships and sailboats. I loved going by all of the old docks as it give you such a different perspective on the city. As we turned around and started our journey back, the sun slowly dipped down into the water and we washed up onto shore just as it turned dark. A perfect way to end the day on the water!
Go Kayaking in Portland
Shuck Oysters Right on the Water
Everyone loves Maine Lobsters, but what about the cute little Maine oyster? It doesn’t get as much love. However one Oyster Farmer, Abigail Carroll, is trying to change that. Known as the Oyster Lady of Maine, Abigail has a fascinating story of how she started the farm she’ll share with you. We met on the docks in the estuaries of Scarborough River south of Portland and Abigail did an introduction to Nonesuch Oysters.
Then Abigail walked us over to a little skiff boat motioning for us to get on. That’s when this tour got interesting, and literally got on the water.
I’m used to oyster tours that tell you about their farming, show you some oyster bags/trays, and then shuck a few for you to try. I wasn’t used to getting on a little boat and actually going out to the oyster farm. I was surprised when she stopped and pulled up bags of oysters for us to view from babies to mature oysters so we could see the whole progression.
I was even more surprised (and delighted) when we stopped the boat in the middle of the farm, Abbey set up a card table, mixed up a mignonette sauce, started pulling up fresh oysters, and shucking them for us! This really was a hands-on tour right on the water. We all walked away with a greater knowledge of the area and a belly full of Nonesuch Oysters!
How to Visit NoneSuch Oyster Farm
Don’t just look at the water in Maine, get on it with these fun things to do, plus many more you’ll find along the way! By doing so you’ll walk away with a whole new appreciation and perspective for those 5000 miles of Maine coastline!
Where to Stay
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I was a guest of Visit Maine on this trip, however all opinions expressed here are my own.