Whether by river, lake, or sea, being atop a paddle board affords higher perspective (good for wildlife spotting) and also easy access in and out of the water (making cooling off easy). There are protected, calm harbors and inlets for exploring, islands for picnicking, and tidal rivers that, if you time it right, make the rowing easy. Maine is full of paddling escapades, and these local guides reveal they favorites.
01 Boothbay Harbor
Maneuver around moored boats in Boothbay Harbor, and at sunset say hello to the many boaters enjoying cocktail hour on their vessels. Travis Journagan, owner of Tidal Transit, recommends heading out past the no-wake zone towards Tumbler Island, where you can sit on your board and look out to the open ocean and Burnt Island, home to the second-oldest lighthouse in Maine. Journagan also recommends launching from the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and exploring the Sheepscot River, where seals tend to congregate.
o2 East End Beach
Portland Paddle is based at this hub for local paddleboarders and owner Zack Anchors recommends the beach as a launch point. “You can head toward the old railroad bridge to enjoy the protected waters and check out the osprey nest, or you can paddle along the waterfront into Portland Harbor,” says Anchors. Experienced paddlers can head out to Fort Gorges or the Casco Bay islands for a picnic on a hidden beach.
03 Echo Lake and Long Pond
On Acadia’s scenic and still lakes, glide through tranquil wilderness while tree-studded mountains surround you. Acadia Stand Up Paddle Boarding owner Chris Strout recommends the mile-long Echo Lake as well as Great Long Pond. Both have islands to explore and wildlife to spot, including turtles, deer, and birds such as loons.
04 Presumpscot River
Katelyn Allen of Sebago Trails Paddling Company in Windham recommends paddling along Sebago Lake, Maine’s deepest lake, to the Presumpscot River, a quiet, sinuous route where you can spot eagles’ nests in the trees above. The calm waters make this trip accessible for all levels.
05 Kennebunk River and Cape Porpoise Harbor
Coastal Maine Kayak is located on the Kennebunk River, a mile up from the mouth, which is a great launching spot for paddleboarders, who are likely to encounter eagles, egrets, herons, ducks, and even seals on the way to the ocean. Stop at Picnic Rock for a lookout. Owner Theresa Willette also recommends a sunset tour in Cape Porpoise Harbor, where you can paddle over to Goat Island Lighthouse for a climb up to the top.