Acadia National Park Sea Kayaking Overview

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The view from Mount Cadillac, Acadia National Park.
The view from Mount Cadillac, Acadia National Park. (Barbara Peacock/Photographer's Choice/Gety)

Sea Kayaking Acadia National Park, Maine Highlights

  • There are four Porcupines in Bar Harbor: Sheep, Burnt, Bald, and Long. These rounded islands were formed when glaciers retreated after the last Ice Age. A tour of their shores is a good, seven-mile paddle. Harbor seals, bald eagles, and the red-footed guillemot seabird are all abundant around the Porcupine Islands. Watch out for boat traffic in this busy passage.
  • For a different view of Mount Desert, drive onto the mainland and out to Lamoine Beach State Park. Put in at the boat launch and paddle into Frenchman's Bay. To the east, you'll see the open Atlantic and the distant flash of Egg Rock lighthouse. Across Frenchman's Bay, you'll see the profiles of Champlain, Cadillac, and Pemetic Mountains.
  • If the boat traffic in Bar Harbor looks thick, head west to Seal Cove. Put in here, and paddle four miles north to Bartlett Island. Owned by the Rockefeller Family, this is one of the few privately-owned islands that is open to the public. Land here for lunch before returning south.
  • Northeast Harbor's "cottages" are the summer homes of some of Philadelphia's wealthiest Main Line families, but access to the harbor's public boat launch is free. Put in and paddle out to the archipelago called the Cranberry Islands. Bear Island has a cliff-top lighthouse, and Sutton Island is home to a 40-foot sea-arch carved out by the surf.
  • After a long day in the cockpit, head for Beal's Lobster Pier next to the Coast Guard Station in Southwest Harbor. Claim a picnic table on the pier and then head inside to order your lobster at this working lobster pound.  Don't forget the sides of sweet corn on the cob and fresh dinner rolls.  This is no time to count calories, so do as the locals do and drench all of the above in melted butter.

The ocean is indeed the star of the show at Acadia, whether you're swimming, walking the shore, whale-watching, or sailing. Kids will love the adventure of trying out sea kayaking, and with its protected waters, Acadia is an ideal place to learn.

Sea kayaks are much more stable than whitewater kayaks, so they're a better choice for families. Those with younger kids can use a two-seat kayak, so mom or dad can paddle and steer from the back. If you're new at the sport, be sure to get a lesson and a guided outing from a kayak shop, such as Coastal Kayaking in Bar Harbor. Some tours are designed especially for families.


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