Returning to Round Pond

Following looping routes to and from Round Pond on the Pemaquid Peninsula, seafood spots and shops, coves, and villages come to life for summertime along Muscongus Bay.

Returning to Round Pond

Following looping routes to and from Round Pond on the Pemaquid Peninsula, seafood spots and shops, coves, and villages come to life for summertime along Muscongus Bay.

by Sandy Lang
Photography by Peter Frank Edwards

Issue: August 2022

It’s the 1980s in New Harbor. At least, that’s the vibe in the wooden-paneled dining room on a fishing wharf that has been operating as Shaw’s Fish and Lobster since 1988. Perched over the narrow harbor, the classic waterside restaurant has just opened for the season. On a spring Friday the kitchen crew is cooking up lunch orders: lobster rolls, steamed lobsters and clams, platters of french fries, and plates stacked with fried and broiled seafood.

Through restaurant speakers somewhere in the rafters, music from a local radio station is playing—mid-’80s songs by Guns n’ Roses and Billy Idol. Outside, I check out views from a picnic table on the dining deck. A lobsterman is stacking traps on his fishing boat, and a ferry is moored nearby, ready to take tourists to Monhegan Island for a day trip. Afternoon sunlight is barely pushing through clouds, and there’s too much fog to see out to Muscongus Bay.

Back inside, near the order counter and shelves of ocean curiosities that include huge lobster claw shells, I notice a framed Gourmet magazine article from 1984 about the particular deliciousness of Maine lobster from New Harbor. A few steps away, at a separate small cocktail bar, Shaw’s offers four or five beers on tap, including Pemaquid Ale, along with several varieties of island rum and other liquors. According to a faded sign, wine-soaked fruit sangria is a summer cocktail special.

Interrupting the music, “number 131” has just been announced over the speakers. That’s my order. From the counter I lift a tray arranged with a steaming bowl of fish chowder and a haddock Reuben sandwich topped with slaw, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing, plus a nice-sized wedge of blueberry pie with a flaky butter crust. Hello, summer.

A sunnier day a few miles away at Shaw’s Fish and Lobster in New Harbor.

The Lure of Pemaquid

We’re booked at the 1700s Chamberlain House in Round Pond, which, like New Harbor, is one of a handful of villages that compose the town of Bristol on the Pemaquid Peninsula, about 70 miles up the coast from Portland. I’ve wanted to return since a memorable day at Muscongus Bay Lobster two summers ago, when photographer Peter Frank Edwards and I made the drive for Pemaquid oysters and grilled halibut served in steel skillets at a table on the wharf overlooking Round Pond Harbor. It was balmy summertime—one of those long, sweet evenings—and I remember watching the snug, round bay teeming with people on stand-up paddle boards and in dinghies, sailboats, and cruising yachts.

Open seasonally for tours and still in use to help passing boats, Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was built in 1835 and flashes a light signal visible for 14 nautical miles.

Peter Frank says his attraction to Maine deepened when he photographed the nearby Pemaquid Point Lighthouse about 20 years ago with one of his film cameras. He’s been wanting to get back to the iconic lighthouse, and I’ve never seen it except in pictures. So, after our midday stop at Shaw’s, we continue on down the peninsula beyond New Harbor until Route 32 ends a few miles farther down at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park, which marks the western entrance to Muscongus Bay. The fog is thicker here, mixing with the cool ocean air, and I pull on a jacket and hat before we park and explore. Beyond a few picnic tables under spruce trees, waves are splashing up in white plumes onto geologic layers of mudstone, sandstone, and granite. It’s a dramatic land-meets-sea scape, with long stretches of linear stone formations lying horizontally below the white-painted lighthouse.

I duck into the coziness of the keeper’s house, where I soon meet Kendrick Wilson, who’s answering guests’ questions at the Fishermen’s Museum housed there. Wilson’s local knowledge is immediately impressive. A former fisher who served in the navy in the 1950s, he was born and raised in Round Pond and recalls childhood stays on Monhegan, ten miles out to sea. The island sits directly southwest of Pemaquid Point across open water, “but you can’t see it today with the fog,” he says. We ask about a huge halibut being hoisted by a man in an old photograph—he knows all of the fishers by name. Wilson then encourages us to take a closer look at the beautiful and complex glass angles of a Fresnel lens that refracts and reflects a bulb’s light so that the beam can be seen by passing boats at great distances. Standing here with the cool fog around us, it’s amazing to consider that the Pemaquid Light, built in the early 1800s, is still in service as a beacon and navigational aid.

At the Chamberlain

After some more exploring, we make our way up the peninsula to our Round Pond lodging at the Chamberlain House, a historic saltwater farm that once spanned about 150 acres on a wooded rise above the harbor.

When I notice the basket of eggs owner Shari Cunningham has collected—mostly brown-hued, plus a few with beautiful pale green shells—we begin talking about the fluffy-feathered hens she keeps. I learn that all the chickens in the hen yard near the rear patio gardens have names, and now I am trying to figure out which one is Louise. Hummingbirds are buzzing about in flashes of emerald green. Later, when I’m looking out one of the windows in our second-floor room at its view of Round Pond Harbor, I notice the resident cat, Dory, slinking by.

Built in the 1700s and owned by just five families since, the Chamberlain House is a recent project for Shari and her husband, Paul Cunningham, who grew up in Round Pound in a boatbuilding family. (His father, Bruce Cunningham, founded Padebco Boatyard in the 1960s.) In 2015 the couple began a full cleanup and renovation of the farmhouse. They reduced the number of bedrooms to five, added bathrooms to each, expanded the kitchen, and disassembled an old barn that was in disrepair—salvaged pieces of barnwood have been now refashioned into shelves and tables and doors. The pressed tin ceilings in the downstairs dining rooms and parlors, each with a different design, are still in place and have been restored—I keep looking up at them as I try sitting in the various rooms, each furnished in creamy whites and natural woods, sometimes with an aqua blue or another color pop, and all with fresh-cut flowers in vases.

Shari says their latest improvements have included timbering part of the property to improve the view down the hill to the harbor. At sunup, Peter Frank and I follow a pathway to a shorefront stretch that’s part of the Chamberlain House property, and we sit in the sunshine to watch a sailboat slowly gliding along in the low-wind morning. The shoreline here wraps around the sheltered harbor in a circular curve, with lobster pounds and houses, docks and boats in almost every direction. We’d sit longer to soak in the glinting light and views, but Shari mentioned she’d have breakfast ready soon, and I don’t want to miss the farm eggs and blueberry muffins.

Land and Sea Finds

For the rest of the sunshine-filled day we follow routes around the peninsula. On Back Shore Road in Round Pond, we step into the two-story Art of Antiquing shop, freshly painted a handsome putty color with charcoal trim. Owner Margaret Brown is talking with customers about items found on winter buying trips in England and France—including jewelry, vintage British biscuit jars, plush linen and wool pillows, classic beer garden tables, and nineteenth-century portrait paintings. Next door, the Round Pond Art Gallery and Shoppe, founded by Sheala and Tony Jackovich, is not open the days we are visiting, but the building itself could qualify as a mixed-media art piece, with hand-painted signage on faded pink walls and a Dutch-style windmill tower.

We retrace our drive toward Pemaquid Point, and this time we turn to find Pemaquid Beach, a town park on a broad beach of deep white sand. Nearby is Fort William Henry, a restoration of a waterfront 1600s British fort. We stop at the Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve, protected by the Nature Conservancy, where, only steps away from the roadside parking, we amble around the very same New Harbor tidal pool where Carson, the famed marine biologist and conservationist, gathered some of the material for her 1955 bestseller The Edge of the Sea.

It’s a bright, warm afternoon, and I’m thinking of icy oysters. We’re in luck: the Hub Farm Market and Oysteria in Bristol is serving at outdoor tables in a small yard bordered by woods, and we order Pemaquid oysters and littleneck clams on the half shell with glasses of rosé for a late lunch. Sitting under an umbrella and sipping up the briny liquor in each shell, a song I heard the day before at Shaw’s Fish and Lobster is now playing in my head. It’s the 1980s hit “Don’t You (Forget about Me)” by Simple Minds.

Not to worry, I tell Peter Frank as we recall moments of this Pemaquid Peninsula getaway. I won’t forget these places. I’m already planning our Round Pond returns.


In the height of summer, it’s possible to see several lobster pounds at once from vantage points along Round Pond Harbor—and everyone gets on or near the water somehow. Below is a beginning list for visitors to the villages, coves, and roadside stops on the Pemaquid Peninsula this summer.


Shaw’s Fish + Lobster Wharf
Seafood, steaks, cocktails, and beer; indoor and outdoor waterfront seating.
129 Route 32, New Harbor

The Hub Farm Market + Oysteria
Pemaquid oysters and other fresh-caught seafood, house-made sauces and Bloody Mary mix, summer brunch in the woodland yard.
1005 Bristol Rd., Bristol

Muscongus Bay Lobster
Dining on the wharf with seafood and ingredients from local fishers and farmers.
28 Landing Rd., Round Pond

Lusty’s Catch
Lobster, clams, and a full menu for takeout or served on outdoor tables on the wharf at Broad Cove Marine; BYOB.
374 Medomak Rd., Bremen


The Chamberlain House
Bed-and-breakfast in a renovated 1700s farmhouse with views and a footpath to Round Pond Harbor.
1313 Route 32, Round Pond

Pemaquid Point Campground
Wooded campsites with electricity and water for tents to RVs, just a mile to the Pemaquid Point Light.
2872 Bristol Rd., New Harbor

The Art of Antiquing
Open seasonally with antiques and art curated from forays to England and France.
4 Back Shore Rd., Round Pond

Granite Hall Store
Candy, toys, gifts, and ice cream in a circa-1893 store that originally featured an upstairs dance hall.
9 Back Shore Rd., Round Pond

Pemaquid Craft Co-op
Maine-made crafts and fine art by dozens of artisans.
2565 Bristol Rd., New Harbor

Skipjack Nautical Wares
A wide collection of nautical items, from vintage diving gear to compass housings, maritime art, and sailboat hardware.
1172 Route 32, Round Pond


The Fishermen’s Museum + Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park
An iconic lighthouse with picnic areas, an art gallery, and the Fishermen’s Museum at the end of Route 130 (Bristol Rd.), at Pemaquid Point.

Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve
Tide pools and hiking trails set aside by the Nature Conservancy in 1966.
Access along Route 32, New Harbor places-we-protect

Pemaquid Beach Park
Natural white-sand beach with parking, a dune walkover, and restrooms.
27 Pemaquid Beach Park, New Harbor -recreation/pemaquid-beach-park

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