Learn the basics of sea kayaking the Maine Coast in this 3-hour course! This is the course to take if you are new to sea kayaking — or if you started sea kayaking without gaining a solid foundation of skills and knowledge.
Become a Portland Paddle Member
Join a Community of Paddlers & Kayak or SUP as Often as You Want, All Summer
Membership makes it easy to paddle regularly without paying more.
- Standard Rate Intended for most members
- Community Rate
- Supporter Rate
- Business Rate Starts at $460
We’re making it easier and more affordable than ever for locals to paddle regularly on Casco Bay. When you purchase a membership you get free rentals for four months – and lots of other benefits. If you paddle regularly you’ll save lots of money over the course of the summer, and it will be easier than ever to get on the water.
Our goal in creating the membership program is to expand and strengthen the wonderful community of paddlers who love kayaking and stand-up paddling on Casco Bay. That’s why we’ve created a tiered pricing for membership that allows you to choose the price that fits your budget.
Main Benefits of Membership
Unlimited Free 1-Hour and 2-Hour Rentals: Enjoy unlimited rentals of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Tandem kayaks are included too, so you can bring a friend or a loved one along for free!
Get 50% off our Introductory Sea Kayaking and SUP Courses: Learn the fundamentals in an Intro to Sea Kayaking course or Intro to SUP course, and/or gain essential capsize recovery skills (and get checked off for longer rentals) in Intro to Sea Kayak Rescues.
Get 75% off half-day rentals after you have met skills requirements, including capsize recovery proficiency. Or, for longer trips, get 30% off full or multi-day rentals.
- Streamlined Check-in: Skip the check-in line and forego signing waivers repeatedly. Opt to grab your own gear and launch yourself, or just get our help with moving the SUP or kayak.
- Get 10% off all other lessons: This includes our two-day workshops on a range of sea kayaking topics, and a wide range of shorter classes.
- Get 10% off merchandise: We sell an assortment of paddling-related items, like waterproof nautical charts, bilge pumps and tow ropes. We also sell hats, shirts and tank tops with Casco Bay-related designs.
- Invitations to Group Paddles & Special Events: Connect with like-minded paddlers through exclusive invitations to free group paddles. Share the joy of kayaking with fellow members and build lasting memories on the water.
- Use your benefits at our Crescent Beach site too! We offer kayak and SUP rentals Friday-Sunday in July and August at Crescent Beach State Park.
- Compete for Free in our Weekly Race Series! We host a friendly competition for paddlers every Monday evening in July and August, and members don’t need to pay the $12 entry fee or the rental fee for using a kayak.
- Sign-up Period: New memberships for 2024 will be available until midnight on June 14th.
- Membership Duration: Benefits of memberships apply in June, July, August and September
- Cancellation Policy: Refunds are available until membership begins on June 1. No refunds after that date.
Choose the price that fits your circumstances. Our program thrives when supported by members at various price levels.
Standard Price: $295 – Tailored for most members, offering a solid value for those planning to paddle regularly.
Just 10 rentals (of up to 2 hours) would cover the cost of membership at this rate – or, if you take all three discounted intro sea kayaking courses with your member discount, you’d only need 6 free rentals to start saving money on membership!
Community Price: $225 – A more affordable option for those facing budget constraints.
Supporter Price: $385 – For those able to contribute more, this tier supports members at the Community Price level while still offering value. We need some members to opt for this price to ensure the program remains accessible to all.
Business Membership: $460-$1,400 – Benefits and terms are different; see details below.
- Operating Hours: Rentals must align with Portland Paddle’s operating hours, and all renters must be off the water at least 30 minutes prior to sunset.
- Weather Conditions: Rentals may be canceled or curtailed based on weather conditions; members will be notified promptly if they have booked in advance.
- Availability: Rentals are subject to availability, so booking online with your member code is strongly encouraged, especially on weekends. (That said, we have expanded our kayak and SUP inventory and expect that limitations on availability in 2024 will be rare).
- Rental Policies: Members must comply with Portland Paddle’s rental policies. These include the following requirements for renters: bringing a working phone on the water (we provide a dry bag); checking in upon returning; treating gear with care; not consuming alcohol or recreational drugs while paddling; avoiding boat traffic and busy channels.
- Skills Requirements for Paddling to Islands & Use of Sea Kayaks: Until a member has demonstrated competency at certain skills, they will be required to remain within the “shore zone” area along the East End shoreline – an area that is terrific for one- or two-hour rentals. Members who want to paddle beyond the “shore zone” to destinations such as Fort Gorges, Mackworth Island or Peaks Island, must first demonstrate (if they have not already done so) that they are able to perform a capsize recovery, have competency in basic paddling technique and an awareness of risks involved with paddling in Maine’s coastal environment. Members are encouraged to use their discount on introductory lessons to learn these skills. Similarly, the same skills requirements apply to the use of sea kayaks, as opposed to recreational kayaks.
- Assisting with Gear: We ask that whenever possible members assist with moving the gear (including kayaks & SUPs) to and from the water.
- Cancellation policy: A full refund on memberships purchased will be offered up until the start of the membership season (June 1). After that date, memberships will be non-refundable.
- Violations of Policies: Members who violate any Portland Paddle policies, or who use rental gear inappropriately, may lose benefits.
- No rentals are available on July 4 (or July 5 if the Portland fireworks show is postponed).
Reward your team and support employee wellness by giving everyone at your organization the opportunity to paddle for free. Business memberships offer a specific number of free rentals each month that can be used by any employee of the member organization. Members will receive a code to apply benefits that can be shared within the organization.
- Small Organizations: Up to 4 free rentals/week. ($460)
- Mid-Sized Organizations: Up to 10 free rentals/week. ($875)
- Large Organizations: Up to 20 free rentals/week. ($1,400)
Other Benefits of Business Membership
- 20% off our standard rates for private guided tours, which many companies use as fun team-building experiences.
- 30% off our introductory kayaking and SUP lessons for employees of member organization
Rules & Terms of Business Membership
- Rental benefits only apply to rentals of up to 2 hours.
- Benefits listed for non-business memberships do not apply to business memberships.
- Individuals must use an email address associated with the member organization in order to use member benefits (or show a pay stub).
- If more than four people want to use a member organization’s benefits together they must book online with member code in advance to ensure availability.
- All Portland Paddle rental policies apply.
- No rentals are available on July 4 (or July 5 if the Portland fireworks show is postponed).
To buy a business membership please email us and we will send you a digital invoice to complete the purchase.
How many rentals would it take for the cost of membership to be worth it?
At the standard rate, just 10 rentals (of up to 2 hours) over four months would cover the cost of membership (or just seven if you’re using tandem kayaks). At the community rate, it would only take 8 rentals (or five if you’re using tandem kayaks), without using any other benefits, to make membership worth it.
If you take advantage of the other member benefits, you could save money even if you only rent a few times. Taking all three intro courses with 50% off, for example, would save you almost $100, and if you want to join our friendly races on Monday evenings, you’d save $12 every time. Opting for longer rentals? Just nine discounted half-day rentals (seven using tandem kayaks) would cover the cost of membership at the standard rate, setting aside other benefits.
Do I have to book online, and then fill out paperwork, every time I want to go out?
No. We want to make it easy and quick for members to get on the water. You don’t have to book in advance, though we do encourage you to do so when possible — especially in July and August and on weekends. Your member code will make it easy to book without needing a credit card. And you can be sure that we’ll have a kayak or SUP available for you when you want it.
Checking in will be streamlined for members too. You will only need to sign our primary liability form once each season. During your first rental as a member you will be shown the protocol for checking in.
Can I go out early in the morning or stay out after dark?
The unlimited free rentals you get as a member can only be used during our operating hours. We generally open for rentals at 8am on weekdays and 7am on weekends, weather permitting. We rent during the evening hours, but we need all renters off the water at least 30 minutes before the official sunset time.
If you want to paddle outside of our operating hours, you can use your member benefits to get discounts on longer rentals, but you would need to store and transport the kayak or SUP yourself while renting.
Can I get a refund if I only use my membership a few times? What about if the weather ends up being awful every time I want to paddle, or you don’t have kayaks/SUPs available?
We are not able to provide any type of refund on memberships after the membership period begins on June 1, 2024. Up until that point, you can receive a full refund.
There are sure to be days when you are not able to paddle due to strong winds, rain, fog or other weather conditions. We hope, however, that by taking away the cost of each rental membership will encourage people to paddle on overcast and even rainy days, when conditions on the water are often the most calm and pleasant.
We’ve increased our inventory of kayaks and SUPs, and made other changes, to minimize the chances that we won’t have kayaks or SUPs available when a member wants to rent. However, there may still be very popular time slots when lots of people want to rent at once. At those times, if you are able to be somewhat flexible with the timing of your rental we should still be able to get you on the water. It will help too if you book online in advance, so you can choose a time slot with availability.
Can I use my free unlimited rentals to paddle to Fort Gorges? Can I paddle anywhere I want?
If you have demonstrated that you meet the skills requirements, you are free to paddle to Fort Gorges and other islands, assuming weather conditions are favorable and you have enough time in your rental period. That said, you are always responsible for your own safety when renting, and each time you go paddling it is essential to evaluate the conditions and assess whether your trip plan is appropriate given your skills and preparation.
Until a member has demonstrated competency at the required skills, they must remain within the “shore zone” area along the East End shoreline – an area that is terrific for one- or two-hour rentals. Members who want to paddle beyond the “shore zone” to destinations such as Fort Gorges, Mackworth Island or Peaks Island, must first demonstrate (if they have not already done so) that they are able to perform a capsize recovery, have competency in basic paddling technique and an awareness of the risks involved with paddling Maine’s coastal environment. Members are encouraged to use their discount on introductory lessons to learn these skills. Similarly, the same skills requirements apply to the use of sea kayaks, as opposed to recreational kayaks.
How do I demonstrate that I have the skills required for renting and kayaking to Fort Gorges or another island?
There are a few ways to demonstrate you meet the skills requirements. One is to take our Intro to Sea Kayak Rescues (50% off for members) and ask the instructor to confirm that you were able to perform the skills taught in the course. If you have already learned the required skills, you can demonstrate them to our staff at the start of a rental. Alternatively, if you have received sea kayaking training through another organization and can show credentials (American Canoe Association certification, guide license, etc.) that may be sufficient.
What are the limitations on where SUP paddlers can go?
We have found that even SUP paddlers who are quite experienced are often surprised at how difficult it can be to paddle back to the East End Beach from Fort Gorges, Mackworth Island and other points that most novice SUP paddlers don’t reach. For that reason, if winds are forecasted to be stronger than 10 knots in Portland harbor we require SUP paddlers to remain within the “shore zone.” If winds are forecasted to be less than 10 knots only experienced SUP paddlers may venture beyond the “shore zone.”
Can I use any of your kayaks or SUPs that I want?
We have quite a variety of vessels, and you may find that you prefer certain ones. We will always try to provide you the kayak/SUP you prefer, but in some cases that may not be possible. It will help if you book in advance and make a note in your booking about your preference.
We do have certain skill requirements for anyone renting a sea kayak, however. The vast majority of renters paddling near our site use “recreational kayaks” that are generally more stable and easier for novice paddlers to use. For those paddling to the islands, we require that sea kayaks are used, since these boats are better designed for handling open water conditions.
Can my family member or friend use my membership?
Only if they are paddling with you in a tandem kayak. Your membership provides unlimited free tandem kayak rentals. But if you rent SUPs or kayaks, your membership benefits only apply for the one you use.