Camden: 230 miles NE of Boston; 8 miles N of Rockland; 18 miles S of Belfast

When traveling east along the Maine coast, those who pay attention to such things may suddenly find they're heading almost due north around Rockland. The culprit behind this geographic quirk is Penobscot Bay, a sizable bite out of the coast that forces a lengthy northerly detour to cross the head of the bay where the Penobscot River flows in at Bucksport.

You'll find some of Maine's most distinctive coastal scenery in this region, which is dotted with broad offshore islands and high hills rising above the mainland shores. Though the mouth of Penobscot Bay is occupied by two large islands, its waters still churn when the winds and tides are right.

Penobscot Bay's western shore gets a heavy stream of tourist traffic, especially along the stretch of U.S. Route 1 passing through Rockland and Camden. Nevertheless, it's still a good area to get a taste of the Maine coast. Services for travelers are abundant, though during peak season you need a small miracle to find a weekend bed without a reservation.