The most exciting thing about kayaking is the place you get to do it – and kayaking in Maine is the golden standard.
As it is, Maine is home to some of the most beautiful, land-related activities – so imagine the ones you can’t get to by foot. Let’s take a dive into some of the best spots I know, for a day out on the water.
Kayaking Maine #1 Spot: Presumpscot River
That’s because this preserve also topped the charts as one of the best Portland, Maine hikes in one of my last blogs.
Not only does this preserve offer numerous hiking trails and loops, but the river, which runs between Sebago Lake and Casco Bay, doubles as a kayaking oasis just minutes from downtown.
25 miles in length, you’ll probably want to commit to a shorter section to start and stop.
But overall, any part of the river is considered an “easy paddle”.
This spot offers nice views, and a calm flow so that you’re not spending your day fighting through choppy, or fast-paced waters.
Of course, to make the most of your day, don’t forget to add in a short hike before or after your time on the river! Kayaking Maine isn’t the same unless you get a little bit of both!
You’ll want to start your adventure at the North Gorham falls in Gorham.
You’ll park in the lot off Middle Jam Road and follow the undeveloped trail down to the water. From here, you’ll be able to access several islands, ponds, and dams.
You can click here to check out a full map guide of Presumpscot River paddling.
Driving Times to Presumpscot River:
From Portland: 12 min (3.6 miles)
From Bangor: 1h 55min (127.0 miles)
From Augusta: 52min (53.5 miles)
Kayaking Maine #2 Spot: Scarborough Marsh
Scarborough – Maine’s largest salt marsh – houses an array of tidal and freshwater marshes, salt creeks, and uplands.
A sanctuary for wildlife, this marsh sits on 3,100 acres across from Route 9 in Scarborough, and is managed and maintained by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
For those who don’t own, or have access to a kayak, several rentals are available near the site. The Audubon Center currently charges $20USD an hour for both canoes and kayaks, and reservations are required.
For most, the trip takes about an hour’s time, though your pace plays a role in determining that. Many report that the waters are usually calm, but note that tides play an important role in the distribution of water, and therefore may increase the difficulty when paddling in a certain direction.
Scarborough Marsh has two parking destinations, both along Pine Point Road.
The first lot is located at the Audubon Center at 92 Pine Point Road, and the second is located just about a few miles down the road at 108-102 State Rte 9.
Driving Times to Scarborough Marsh (Audubon Center):
From Portland: 21 min (12.1 miles)
From Bangor: 2h 10 min (140.0 miles)
From Augusta: 1h 7 min (66.7 miles)
Kayaking Maine #3 Spot: Cape Porpoise Harbor
If you’re ready for the most outstandingly scenic spot for kayaking in Maine, then this could be the one for you.
Ever thought about paddling to a lighthouse before?
If so, here’s your chance.
Cape Porpoise Harbor is located in Kennebunkport, a popular town central to various shops and restaurants.
But despite the hustle and bustle, this harbor offers incredible views of the Goat Island Lighthouse (and you’ll probably catch a glimpse of the many fishing boats, too).
So if you’re yearning for adventure, and a view that not many people will ever see, grab a kayak, or SUP (stand up paddle board), and head for the house.
The primary and preferred launch spot for this harbor is located at the Causeway about 100 yards before the end of Pier Road – but kayak launches are prohibited during summer months.
Your second option is to launch at Turbat’s Creek which is located at the Western end of the harbor, though spots (much like Pier Road) are limited in capacity.
To secure your spot, be sure to get there at the crack of dawn!
Driving Times to Cape Porpoise Harbor:
From Portland: 43 min (29.9 miles)
From Bangor: 2h 29 min (158.0 miles)
From Augusta: 1h 28 min (84.1 miles)
Kayaking Maine #4 Spot: Saco River Reservoir
This stunning, 130-mile river, located just 22 minutes North of Cape Porpoise Harbor technically qualifies as kayaking Maine, but actually also stretches all the way from a point in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire.
The Saco River Reservoir, fully equipped with a sandy beach and rope swings, offers something the whole family can enjoy!
Canoes, kayaks, and tubes are available to rent, and crystal clear waters make for a relaxing, peaceful, and stress-free day.
The most popular access for this location is conveniently located near the entrance to Swan’s Falls Campground at 198 Swans Falls Road in Fryeburg.
From here, you’ll be able to choose your paddle destination, which includes: tube trips (Swan’s Falls to Canal Bridge), day trips (Swan’s Falls to Canal Bridge or Walker’s Bridge) and overnight trips (Swan’s Falls to Walker’s Bridge, Lovewell Pond, Brownfield Bridge, or Hiram).
Driving Times to Saco River Reservoir:
From Portland: 26 min (17.8 miles)
From Bangor: 2h 15 min (151.0 miles)
From Augusta: 1h 13 min (77.4 miles)
Kayaking Maine #5 Spot: Great Diamond Island
If you’re spending any time in Portland, Maine, heading to Great Diamond Island is not only an inviting escape from the city, but also an incredible spot for kayaking in Maine.
With beaches filled with seaglass, and even sea pottery as the military fort that was once on the island has left some very interesting remains behind.
If you stay at the Inn at Diamond Cove, they can help you arrange a kayaking tour through Portland Paddle.
The island is only accessible by ferry, and is an easy 30 minute ride from Portland with Casco Ferry Lines.
** Pro Tip: Arrive early for the ferry in Summer season. All ferry tickets are roundtrip, and fares are collected in Portland when you purchase your ticket.
Heading Out on the Water
With endless waterways and so many places to explore, I truly hope you’ll consider and know you’ll enjoy kayaking Maine.
It’s one of the prettiest places to visit, and I’d honestly recommend taking a long weekend and hitting multiple spots (since most of the ones on this list are centrally located within miles of each other)!
As always, don’t forget to share the adventure with me by tagging me in all your photos.
I’m so excited to hit the waters, and hope you are too!