How to Choose a Sea Kayaking Tour to Explore the Scenic Waterways around Acadia National Park

Approaching the Porcupine Islands off Bar Harbor

Approaching the Porcupine Islands off Bar Harbor

If you visit Acadia National Park, you have to see it from the water. 

You can take sailing trips, scenic nature cruises, and go whale watching.  But I most enjoy being close to the water and motoring under my own power in a kayak. 

The bays and straits around Mount Desert Island, of which the park occupies about two-thirds, offer the chance to see harbor seals, porpoises, eagles, and osprey.  Seeing the rocky, tree-lined coast from the vantage point of the ocean is special unto itself.  Kayaking tours not only make the experience safe and convenient, but open up your eyes to many of the subtleties of different eco-systems. Novices get lessons and a little practice before the group takes off.  Of course, all of the gear is included, and most companies offer trips of different durations. 

On the first trip I ever took a man who had kayaked with his family the day before was back alone for a sunset paddle.  That’s how impressive the experience was… 

So, how do you select a kayaking tour?

On Mount Desert Island the primary criterion is location: do you want to kayak in Frenchman Bay off of Bar Harbor or along the island’s western coastline known as the “Quiet Side”? 

Sea Kayaking Western Bay

Sea Kayaking Western Bay

This was the subject of a lively debate recently on TripAdvisor’s Maine forum.  Since I’ve kayaked in both locations myself, I’ll try to sort out the “pro’s” and “con’s” for you, but you should check out the string of posts for recommendations of several different sea kayaking companies. 

Fans of Frenchman Bay like the proximity to their lodging and touring around the Porcupine Islands, a cluster of four small, but dramatic islands.  Detractors cite the water traffic.  Kayaking tours in Bar Harbor such as Aquaterra Adventures leave directly from the dock, which is something folks also like; other guides such as Coastal Kayaking take guests along with all of the gear in vans and leave from the shoreline. 

Kayaking Jordan Pond (Bubbles in Background)

Kayaking Jordan Pond (Bubbles in Background)

That’s also the case with Maine State Kayaking Tours, which operates out of Southwest Harbor.  They paddle in the area of Western Bay.  Their fans talk about the serenity and beauty of these trips, especially those at sunset. 

I share my take on two different tours on both sides of the island at OUR ACADIA under reviews of Aquaterra and Maine State Sea Kayak.  There’s also information there about renting kayaks to explore Acadia’s glacial lakes. 

Regardless of which kayaking tour or venue you choose for your first trip, it will only give your perspective on what’s so great – and different – about your second!

The author proudly poses with her kayak in front of  Great Long Pond.  She enjoys kayaking on the ocean, as well kayak lynnas MDI’s lakes and Somes Sound.  The agenda of a favorite day in Acadia is to hike up Beech Mountain in the morning, picnic, then kayak on Long Pond.  For more ideas on how to explore the waterways, trails, restaurants, and markets of Mount Desert Island, visit OUR ACADIA.


One Comment to “How to Choose a Sea Kayaking Tour to Explore the Scenic Waterways around Acadia National Park”

  1. This is a great article, I am actually on my way to acadia and was looking for a place to sea kayak this was the perfect find.

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