Full Speed Ahead!
Worth noting: Stonington is one of those Maine fishing villages that hosts big-time lobster-boat racing. (There are also races in Searsport and Rockland.) Stonington’s race usually occurs on a weekend in early July—drop by if you’re in the area. Crowds line the waterfront and piers to cheer on their favorites. You’ll either be amazed or horrified by how quickly one of these diesel-powered workhorses can get up to speed when the captain’s going full throttle.
On the Water
Peer southward from Stonington, and you’ll see dozens of spruce-studded islands between the mainland and the dark, distant ridges of Isle au Haut. These islands, ringed with salmon-pink granite, are collectively called Merchant’s Row, and they’re invariably ranked by experienced coastal boaters as among the most beautiful in the state. Thanks to these exceptional islands, Stonington is among Maine’s most popular destinations for sea kayaking. Many of the islands are open to day visitors and overnight camping, and one of the Nature Conservancy islands even hosts a flock of sheep. Experienced kayakers should contact the Maine Island Trail Association (www.mita.org; tel. 207/761-8225) for more information about paddling here; several of the islands are open only to association members.
Old Quarry Ocean Adventures (www.oldquarry.com; tel. 207/367-8977), just outside the village of Stonington, offers guided kayak tours as well as kayaks for rent. (Old Quarry will rent only to those with prior experience, so it’s best to call ahead to discuss your needs.) Tours range from a half-day tour ($64) to a full-day 7-hour tour ($133) that weaves out through the islands and includes a stop for a swim or a picnic at an abandoned quarry. Overnight camping trips are also offered. Other services: parking and a launch site for those who’ve brought their own boats, sailboat tours and lessons, hourly shuttles to Green Island (which has trails and an old quarry swimming hole; $31) charter tours aboard a 38-foot lobster boat, and camping ($41–$61 per tent site, $43 for RVs). For more information, visit the company’s website.
Outfitters based outside the region that offer guided overnight kayak trips around Merchant’s Row include the Maine Island Kayak Co. (www.maineislandkayak.com; tel. 207/766-2373) on Peaks Island (near Portland) and Maine Sport Outfitters (www.mainesport.com; tel. 800/722-0826 or 207/236-8797) on Route 1 in Rockport.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.