Kayaking in Portland Maine

7 Best Places for Kayaking in Portland Maine (2023 Guide)

In Portland, Maine, there is no shortage of fantastic places to go kayaking. We will provide a complete kayaking tour in Portland, including rentals, and trips, with training for sea kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Portland, Maine is considered the top travel and holiday location in the country, offering a wealth of exciting activities for visitors to experience, including a flourishing local arts scene, world-class food at reasonable prices, and exhilarating outdoor experiences. There are few better family activities than kayaking and canoeing on Maine’s lakes, streams, ponds, and coastal coasts, which are popular across the state. 

From the ideal time to come to the greatest kayaking places in the city, In this guide, you will learn about the Top 7 Best Places for Kayaking in Portland Maine.

Kayaking and canoeing are convenient ways for people to reach Maine’s 3,500 miles of coastline, which make it possible to explore islands, secluded coves, & sandy beaches and take in the area’s natural beauty.

What Kind of Kayak Is Best for Kayaking in Portland Maine?

Although there are many different types and designs of kayaks, not every one of them may be suitable for you. When selecting kayaks to buy or rent as a novice, you must give priority to comfort, safety, and stability.

Depending on the paddling options in Portland, Maine that you wish to carry the advantage of, your choice of kayak will be important. A sea kayak might be more appropriate for your needs if you intend to go on a multi-day excursion or go kayak camping. You can choose the best lake kayak and a river kayak for easygoing, short-day trips around rivers and lakes. A sit-on-top kayak or a sit-in kayak are additional options.

A sit-on-top kayak allows you to feel the water more carefully while you paddle since your entire body will be expanded out on top of the kayak. Because there is more room to move around in this kind of kayak, it is simpler to get on or off and is suitable for persons with long legs, huge bodies, or restricted flexibility.

For seating and tucking your legs, sit-in kayaks have a built-in enclosure and cockpit. If the sea is frigid or you wish to paddle without getting wet, use a sit-in kayak.

An angling kayak is a great option if your main priority is to catch some fish without using up too much energy paddling. In the end, the kayak that is ideal for you is in which you feel the most at ease. I advise allowing the rental business to make the best choice for you if you still can’t decide which type of boat to use after some consideration.

They are well-equipped to assess your demands and aid in the selection of the appropriate kayak thanks to their experience and knowledge.

Which Season Is Best for Paddling in Portland, Maine?

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli

One of those exceptional lovely places where you may engage in outdoor activities year-round is Portland, Maine.

To maximize your kayaking experience, particularly if you’re a newbie, it’s crucial to choose your time carefully. If the weather won’t allow you to go out on the lake, you don’t want to fight it and postpone your plans.

In Portland, Maine, summer is the ideal season to go kayaking. Beginning in June and lasting through late August, the area has its summer season.

Plan to visit around this time to fully enjoy the pleasant weather, clear skies, coastal breezes, stunning views of the harbor, or the lack of pesky black flies & mosquitoes.

Portland experiences extremely little summertime precipitation, making it the ideal location for outdoor activities including paddling, fishing, swimming, sailing, camping, rafting, bicycling, hiking, water skiing, & dining alfresco.

You’ll want to carry light, breathable clothing to prevent overheating because temperatures can go up to 79°F and normal lows are about 50°F to 60°F, usually in July & early August. Though the humidity is quite low, some rain and chilly periods are still possible, so it’s a good idea to pack a sweater and raincoat.

The second-best season for kayaking in Portland, Maine, after summer, is fall. By that time, most of the summer visitors will have dispersed, but the climate will still be hot enough for outdoor activities like kayaking and the scenery will be ablaze with color.

Just remember to bring a jacket so you’ll be warm and covered when the brisk sea wind blows especially on chilly evenings. September to November is the Portland, Maine, fall season.

You may still have a good time kayaking & participating in many outdoor sports throughout Winter or Spring if you can tolerate the bitter cold or don’t worry about a lot of rain. Just be certain to bring clothing that can tolerate the heat or humidity.

Top 7 Best Places for Kayaking in Portland Maine

1. Presumpscot River

This is because, in one of my most recent posts, I ranked this preserve as the finest walk in Portland, Maine.

The river that flows between Sebago Lake & Casco Bay serves as a kayaking haven within minutes of the city’s center, in addition to the preserve’s many hiking paths and loops. You should probably decide on a shorter stretch to start and halt if the route is longer than 25 kilometers.

Any section of the river is, however, regarded as being “easy to paddle” in general.

You won’t have to spend your day battling through choppy or swift waves at this location because of the wonderful vistas and the quiet flow. Naturally, if you want to get the most out of your day, toss in a quick trek before and after the time on the river. If you don’t incorporate both, paddling in Maine won’t be the same.

How to Get There:

At Gorham’s North Gorham Falls, you should begin the trip.

The underdeveloped route will lead you to the water when you park in the area off Middle Jam Road. From this point, you may reach several dams, islands, and ponds.

2. Scarborough Marsh

The biggest salt marsh in Maine, Scarborough, is home to a variety of freshwater & tidal marshes, salt streams, and uplands. This 3,100-acre marsh near Scarborough, Maine, which is a wildlife sanctuary, is administered & managed by the Maine Dept of Inland Fisheries as well as Wildlife.

Several kayak rentals are available close to the location for those who don’t already own or have access to one. The canoes & kayaks may be rented at the Audubon Center, although reservations are necessary and the hourly rate is present at USD 20.

Most people can complete the journey in an hour, however, your speed can affect this. Although many claims that the waters are normally calm, it should be noted that tides have a significant impact on the water supply & may thus make paddling in a particular direction more challenging.

How to Get There:

There are two places to park at Scarborough Marsh, both on Pine Point Road.

The first lot is at the Audubon Center, which is situated at 92 Pine Point Road, while the second is just a few kilometers away at 108-102 State Route 9.

3. Fortress Gorges

Photo by Anat Morad

Fort Gorges, an army fort made of granite, was built in 1857 and therefore is situated on a ledge of Hog Island at Casco Bay. Unfortunately, neither troops nor conflicts were ever fought there since the fort was made obsolete before it was finished by the development of cutting-edge military technology like ironclad ships & heavy artillery.

Today, Fort Gorges serves as a public maritime park and one of Portland, Maine’s most intriguing kayaking locations. An exciting sea voyage combined with a historical visit is the Fort Gorges float trip.

When embarking from East End Beach, the one-mile journey to the storied fort only takes 60 to 90 minutes. Since the tour moves along at a leisurely pace, beginners may learn about the joys of kayaking.

It’s advised not to undertake the voyage alone as a novice because the waves, tides, & currents in this region may be fairly severe and the weather can change quickly.

Prepare to get a little wet and keep an eye out for seabirds including older ducks, ospreys, guillemots, eagles, and seals who like cruising the waterways.

4. Island of Peaks

If you want to try sea kayaking, Peaks Island, which is located at the southern entrance of Casco Bay, is the ideal place to go. Given that the trip seems to be less than 5 miles, give and take a few additional miles depending on the launch place, the island is fantastic in that you should paddle it around in a single session.

East End is the best starting point. From there, you may kayak around Peaks Island from the major port on Little Diamond Island, which is tucked between a cluster of piers & structures. You should be aware of high traffic, especially in the summer, since many different types of vessels use this path to get to or from inner Casco Bay.

Beautiful sandy beaches may be found all around the island’s coastline, but all but 2 are private, so stay away from them if you don’t have permission to land there.

You’ll go via Whitehead Passage, past the bleak Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse, & up into open seas to Wharf Cove on Peak Island’s northeastern shore.

House Sound’s entrance is reached by leaving Wharf Cove, and from there, you will pass by a few more coves & islands until arriving at Diamond Pass, where the open ocean narrows to meet the island’s northwest shore. Turning southwest will lead you to City Point, which serves as the circumnavigation point, along a stunning sandy beach.

In addition to the thrill of kayaking, Peaks Island offers lots of sights for the eyes to savor along the journey, such as charming homes, pine trees, recognizable lighthouses, sea flowers, harbor seals, high cliffs, and a stunning variety of seabirds.

5. Island of Jewell

Photo by Adhista Raw

From Portland Harbor, it takes less than a full day to paddle to the lovely Jewell island, which is located on the dividing line between Casco Bay and the Atlantic. It features a stunning, rocky coastline with breathtaking vistas that are accented by swooping seagulls and roving lobster boats.

Jewell Island in Portland, Maine is one of the greatest places to go kayak camping since there is so much to see and do there. Consider staying a while if you do decide to travel. So, you’ll have ample time to explore the extensive network of trails, visit nearby islands, and see a submarine tower from World War II.

It will be a struggle to paddle the 8 to 10 miles to Jewell Island since many significant crossings must be made across open water. You should plan on paddling for a few hours a day with occasional breaks, but the entire journey will be worthwhile.

6. Casco Bay

The numerous inlets, beaches, islands, and coves in Casco Bay will astonish and excite you if you desire a more broad & difficult kayaking experience. While cruising the bay, which provides a view of both sides of the Maine coast, you could notice the quiet water channels on the inner, the severe ocean-like conditions on the outer, Portland-facing side, and the ocean-facing side.

For those who are new to sea kayaking and who lack the skills to rescue an overturned kayak, it is best to stay near the shore when Casco Bay’s waves as well as currents will offer less struggle.

You may start the paddling from the launch areas at Peaks Island, East End Beach, or Mere Point. This paddling path will take you over Portland Harbor’s crowded shoreline into tranquil waterways surrounded by secret beaches, rocky headlands, rough terrain, little island communities, as well as a wealth of noises and breathtaking sights to take in.

On the Maine Island Trail, which loops around the islands of Jewell, Harpswell, Raspberry, & Whaleboat, you can take in incredible views of the shore, watch ospreys dive for their next meal, & enjoy. Binoculars and a camera should be packed so you can record observations of seabirds and seals splashing in the water.

7. Wonderful Diamond Island

Photo by Zukiman Mohamad

There are 785 islands & exposed ledges in Casco Bay, including Great Diamond Island. Because you may visit one of these islands all year round without running out of choices, they are known simply as The Calendar Islands.

Although the majority of the island is now privately held, it was formerly a military base erected in the late nineteenth century, and the dedication to maintaining its historical and architectural integrity is strong. Great Diamond Island is not only a fantastic getaway from the bustle of Portland, Maine’s daily life, but it’s also a fantastic place for kayakers who enjoy paddling in calm seas.

A wonderful kayaking experience that you won’t soon forget is made possible by the beautiful scenery, sights of diverse birds and marine animals, and the mouthwatering sounds of nature. Make sure to schedule a trip to the island’s private estates ahead of time if you intend to dock & set foot on land. However, you are always invited to visit the island’s public spaces, including the eateries and general store.

Other Places

Additional drivers in Portland, Maine are great for kayaking. The following is a list of more intriguing paddling locations you might look at when organizing the float trip and explore after you get there:

  • River of New Meadows
  • Crescent Lake
  • The Tenny River
  • The Panther Pond


Q1. Is Kayaking Possible in Portland’s Downtown?

However, there are a ton of flat water paddling possibilities right in the middle of downtown Portland. One of the finest spots for novice kayakers to experience the outdoors in the heart of Portland is Ross Island.

Q2. Does Portland Allow Kayaking?

The Portland Kayak Company, which is on the west bank of the river and is a 15-minute drive from the city center in John’s Landing area, offers kayak tours, lessons, rentals, equipment, and canoes & kayaks.

Q3. Is It Possible to Acquire a Dui on a Boat in Maine?

Yes, in Maine you can be charged with operating a kayak and canoe while intoxicated (OUI). A blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or above, or any level of alcohol in one’s system if under the age of 21, is required to operate any type of “watercraft” in Maine. This includes kayaks and canoes.

Q4. Is It Possible to Kayak in Maine?

Kayakers and paddleboarders might spend their whole lives kayaking on Maine’s lakes, rivers, & beaches.

Q5. Is a Kayaking Permit Required in Maine?

Operating a paddle craft without an attached motor is legal in Maine without a license. SUPs, canoes, and kayaks without an attached motor are exempt from operator training and license requirements.

Q6. Where Can I Go Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Portland?

Portland and its surroundings provide a ton of opportunities for paddleboarding. Henry Hagg Lake, Willamette Park, Cathedral Park, Clackamette Cove, and George Rogers Park are a few of the favorites among the locals.

Q7. Is It Possible to Kayak in Maine?

Kayakers & paddleboarders might spend their whole lives kayaking on Maine’s lakes, rivers, & beaches.

Q8. Is a Life Vest Required When Kayaking in Maine?

The following life jacket PFD requirements are mandated under Maine law. A minimum of one wearable PFD that has been certified by the USCG must be carried by every person on board any type of watercraft, such as canoes, kayaks, & stand-up paddleboards.

Q9. Is It Legal to Kayak & Drink in Maine?

You ought to be alert that it will not be permitted to drink on a boat. It is against the law in Maine to operate a recreational watercraft when intoxicated to the extent of.08 or more. Alcohol and narcotics can qualify as intoxicants when it comes to boating.


Since most of the locations on this guide are centrally placed and just a few miles apart, I’d highly suggest having a long weekend to explore them all. It’s among the most beautiful spots to explore. That is the entirety of my beginner’s guide on kayaking in Portland Maine. Ideally, this article has provided you with all the information you need to know to successfully plan a paddling trip to this amazing location, as well as give you some fantastic trip planning suggestions.

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