If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at sea kayaking, Peaks Island, some three miles east of downtown Portland, Maine, is a good place to start. That’s largely because Peaks is home to the Maine Island Kayak Company, which has been teaching the basics of sea kayaking and leading kayak tours since the mid-80’s.
A former military outpost, Peaks Island hosts a variety of businesses, including a popular inn and restaurant, a grocery store, golf cart rentals, art galleries, the Fifth Maine Regiment Museum and the curious Umbrella Cover Museum. It’s a great place to spend the weekend, although visitors can take the ferry from Portland and back on the same day.
Located at the southern entrance to Casco Bay, Peaks and its neighboring islands provide a variety of paddling venues, from protected coves and beaches to challenging swells and chop. And there’s plenty to see, including seals and seabirds, iconic lighthouses, all manner of boats, and sheer cliffs.
Maine Island Kayak offers several tours. Full-day tours run five to seven hours on the water, depending on destination, ability, and interest. No experience is necessary. Cost is $115 per person, and includes lunch.
Half-day tours run approximately three hours and are suitable for “athletic beginners.” Price is $70 per person in single kayaks; $65 per person in tandem kayaks.
Sunset tours normally run a bit over two hours. Cost is $70 per person (single kayak); $65 per person (tandem).
MIK also offers paddling lessons and courses, and can outfit you with everything you’ll need to paddle on your own once you’re ready to make the leap.