Kayak across Portland harbor to one of the most fascinating historic sites on the Maine coast. This is a 3-hour guided sea kayak tour with a visit to Portland’s legendary Fort Gorges!
Penobscot to Acadia Expedition
- Adult Ages 17+
- Child Ages 13-16
- Private Tour Contact to book
A Four-Day Adventure in the Island Wonderland South of Acadia National Park
The seemingly endless clusters of islands between Penobscot Bay and Mount Desert Island offer all the elements of an idyllic environment for sea kayak camping: Abundant oceanside campsites, countless pocket beaches, infinite route options for exploration, and plenty of opportunities to find shelter from winds and waves. Each island has its own character, history and beauty, and many of them have campsites as part of the Maine Island Trail.
Home to quarries that provided granite for Boston, New York, and D.C.s most iconic buildings, this coastline is also home to some of Maine’s prettiest coastline, where rocky shores and towering evergreens meet. While Acadia National Park draws millions of visitors to experience this environment, this trip provides paddlers with a chance to get away from the crowded hiking trails and explore it by water.
Where You’ll Paddle
You’ll start this trip on the pink-granite-lined shores of Penobscot Bay, with views of the mountains of Acadia on the distant horizon. Over the following days you’ll island-hop towards those mountains, eventually reaching the shores of Mount Desert Island, or one of the adjacent peninsulas, where our van will be waiting to shuttle the group back to Portland. Along the way, you’ll visit dozens of islands, some so tiny they are almost submerged at high tide, and others large enough to have extensive networks of hiking trails and small villages.
As you paddle from Penobscot Bay towards Acadia you’ll encounter abundant wildlife like seals and seabirds, along with the activities of Maine’s working lobstermen and other mariners. You’ll also witness fascinating remnants of the past, like abandoned quarries that now serve as swimming holes, and centuries-old lighthouses.
The itinerary will depend on the conditions and the group. You can expect to paddle for several hours each day, with many breaks along the way. There will also be plenty of time for exploring and relaxing on the islands. Your guide will choose a route that takes maximum advantage of the wind direction and tidal currents, while ensuring that the group moves at a pace that is comfortable for all participants.
You’ll meet your guide and the other participants at our Portland site at 8am on the first day of the trip. After checking in and unloading anything you plan to bring with you, our staff will direct you to an area where you can park overnight. Then your guide will offer a brief overview of the itinerary, select a kayak for you, help you pack your boat and deliver a brief paddling lesson. Your group will then load into our van for the roughly 3-hour drive north to the town of Stonington, with a bathroom break along the way. Next, it’s time to hit the water!
We ask participants to pack a lunch for the first day of the trip, but after that all meals are provided, along with snacks and drinking water, tea and coffee. Portland Paddle also provides all the necessary kayaking gear and dry bags for packing your belongings. Tents are provided at no extra cost, though some people prefer to use their own. There is a small rental fee to use a sleeping bag and sleeping pad if you are not able to bring your own. Cold water paddling gear such as wetsuits and neoprene booties are also available for rent, and are recommended early in the season (May & June) when the water is still especially cold.
On the final day of your trip you can expect to arrive back at our main site in Portland by 6:30pm.
- Island-hopping through the Merchant’s Row archipelago towards the mountains of Acadia National Park
- Visiting dozens of unique islands, potentially including Isle Au Haut, the least visited section of Acadia National Park, and Green Island, with its beloved swimming hole in a historic granite quarry
- Watching the beautiful wooden sailing ships of the Penobscot Windjammer fleet glide across the bay and the countless lobster boats tend their traps.
- Experiencing the open waters of Blue Hill Bay, likely spotting harbor and gray seals, along with various birds of prey and seabirds.
- Relaxing evenings at gorgeous island campsites, with potential opportunities for hiking island trails, venturing out on night paddles, learning new paddling skills or just enjoying the sunset and the stars.
- Well-rounded, delicious meals and snacks – two of each breakfast, lunch and dinner (pack a lunch for the first day)
- Kayaks and other paddling gear
- Dry bags for packing your belongings
- Licensed Maine sea kayaking guide with a deep knowledge of the region
Please Note: Tents are included in the cost of this trip, but we ask participants to either bring their own sleeping bags and sleeping pads or rent them from us for a small additional fee.
We require a slightly higher level of experience for this trip than we do for our shorter trips. However, you do not need to be an expert paddler to join. Since the group will paddle for several hours each day for 4 consecutive days we ask that each participant meet each of the following requirements:
- Prior experience with a multi-day paddling trip (could be canoeing, rafting, etc.)
- Prior experience paddling a sea kayak (sea kayaks are somewhat different than the “recreational” kayaks common on lakes and rivers)
- Prior experience completing a wet exit (capsizing in a kayak) and completing a capsize recovery (getting back into a kayak after a capsize)
- Ability to paddle at a moderate pace for several hours in one day (with plenty of island breaks)
- Ability to walk comfortably on uneven surfaces (such as following a short, rocky trail from a beach to a campsite)
- Comfort with tent camping
If you are lacking any of these requirements, we suggest signing up for one of our lessons or a shorter guided trip before booking this trip. That said, your guide will provide basic instruction, and there will be plenty of opportunities to improve your paddling skills along the way.
If you would prefer to book a private trip that is just for your group we would be happy to make that happen. A private trip allows your guide to customize the itinerary to fit the interests and experience levels of those in your group. It’s also a good option if the dates of our public trips listed on the calendar above don’t work for your group.
To get more information and request a private trip please submit the form on this page.