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Famous for its rocky shores and fantastic lobsters, Maine is a paddle boarding haven! The long and rugged Atlantic coastline is at the heart of this northeasternmost state in the USA. Along with the rich maritime history is the diverse beauty of the state parks where moose are plentiful, and the vistas are mind-blowing.
But it’s not just the coast where you can take a SUP. Pack your paddle board and check out the incredible lakes, wetlands, rivers, and ponds in the area. In-land spots are perfect for a paddle boarding adventure!
Did you know that 13% of Maine is covered in water? That’s a lot of opportunities for stand up paddle boarding. Here are 19 of the best places to check out for a paddle boarding session in Maine. Let us know which spot you’ll be hitting up first!
Maine’s coastline is pretty and a tourist sight in its own right. For the best weather, plan your trip to the coast and islands between June and August. If you want to avoid the crowds, come in Spring or Fall seasons and make sure you pack appropriate SUP clothing.
Casco Bay is a large expanse of water that runs from Cape Elizabeth up to Bath in the north. Portland, the biggest city in Maine, is at the center of the bay. This is a firm favorite place to paddle board in Maine!
We recommend you launch your SUP from East End Beach and then paddle to Whitehead Passage. This is a perfect progressive 7-mile route for paddle boarders looking for adventure, taking you from sheltered beginnings to the open-ocean horizon. Along the way, you’ll paddle and observe wildlife while breathing in the open-ocean air.
You can meet like-minded people at a free weekly group paddle organized early Thursday mornings. Just bring your SUP down along with a friendly smile and join in with the fun! The East End Beach parking lot is the meeting point for the unguided group paddle.
Jewell Island really is a gem within Casco Bay. This rough and wild island is a 9-10 mile paddle out from Portland Harbor, roughly half a day’s paddle for an experienced paddle boarder. If you are after a multi-day paddle boarding destination, then this is the place to explore!
Paddling to Jewell Island involves crossing fairly open water so conditions can get choppy. This is a SUP spot best left to those with more experience and confidence in open water. Be sure to wear your life jacket and use dry bags to keep your gear protected from waves.
Muscongus Bay is a favorite destination among local paddle boarders, and for good reason! Again, this is a fantastic place to visit for a multi-day SUP expedition; you can hop between the several remote and rocky islands in the bay. Large boats don’t venture into Muscongus Bay due to the lack of harbors and shallow waters, making it perfect for SUP adventures.
This is a must-do experience for wildlife lovers. From your SUP, you’re likely to get up close and personal with seals and birds in the area.
Merrymeeting Bay is an hour’s drive out of Portland and is the largest freshwater estuary north of the Chesapeake Bay. This is a huge meeting point for migratory birds, and where six rivers meet the Atlantic Ocean.
Due to its close proximity to the ocean, this bay is affected by tides, therefore, it’s not the best place for beginners paddling for the first time.
Crescent Beach is a mile-long sheltered spot that is ideal for any skill level on a SUP. The water is generally calm, but occasionally the wind can get into the bay. From here, you can paddle to Two Lights State Park or even Richmond Island for a bigger challenge. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for seals and seabirds!
Early mornings in Pemaquid Harbor are magical. The water is tranquil, and the local wildlife is active with the rising sun. Just be cautious of boats moving throughout the harbor. This harbor is ideal for beginner paddlers to try the sport out and find their balance before heading out to more technical locations.
Launch your SUP from the Colonial Fort William Henry State Park boat ramp. If you haven’t got your own paddle board equipment yet, check out Maine Kayak for rentals.
The Damariscotta River is a 19-miles (30.6 km) tidal river teeming with fish of all shapes and sizes. This is a great place to give SUP fishing a try, as you are almost guaranteed a catch! Just make sure you check tide times and are aware of water levels while you’re paddling.
Do you want to head further south and check out Maine’s southern coast? Make sure you pack your paddle board and head to one of these amazing places. With easy access and incredible wildlife, what’s not to love?
The marshland in Scarborough is Maine’s largest salt marsh covering a staggering 3,100 acres. As an estuary, it is tidal so you need to be aware of tide times while exploring the area. The tides can also have an effect on the difficulty of paddling either up or down the marsh, depending on which way the tide is going.
You’re allowed to launch your own SUP and kayaks here, but there is a rental place nearby if needed. Give yourself at least 2 hours to make the most of this breathtaking location. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed here in order to protect the wildlife.
The York Beach area is a popular spot for locals and tourists in the summer months. The sandy shoreline is made up of two sections: Long Sands and Short Sands beaches. Both are perfect for all the family to get in the clear and calm waters for a swim or a paddle.
Make sure you pack your camera for the day! You won’t want to miss the iconic photo opportunity in front of the Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse from the water.
Ogunquit River is just under 10 miles long and flows directly into the Atlantic Ocean and the town of the same name. This is another tidal river that is perfect for a stand up paddle boarding excursion, soaking up all the natural beauty and wildlife sightings along the way.
The river mouth often has a small wave on the changing tides. This is a great place to give SUP surfing a try if you haven’t already!
The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is a breathtakingly huge space of wetlands and protected salt marshes. Launch your SUP into the water from the popular Cutter Island Trail. Parking is on the side of Chauncey Creek Road.
You’ll be surrounded by trees brushing along the banks of the salt marsh. We recommend heading here in the Fall to get the best views for your paddle boarding adventure.
Time to get away from the Atlantic and into Maine’s equally impressive mountain range. Here, you’ll find incredible lakes that are suitably dreamy for paddle boarding adventures.
Grab your SUP and explore this beautiful lake at your own pace. Highland Lake is the biggest lake within an hour’s drive of Portland, so it can get busy in the height of summer. However, don’t let that put you off – arrive early and paddle before the crowds get there.
Launch your paddle board from the public boat ramp at the end of the Lowell Farm Road in Falmouth.
Access Trickey Pond from Route 114 in Naples. It isn’t as big as other lakes in Maine. However, it does have the proud title of being the clearest water in the region. The water clarity will blow you away! We can’t think of a better place to get paddle boarding in Maine!
Sebago Lake is the second largest in the state and is super deep in places. Along the vast shoreline are plenty of sandy beaches for you to set up camp for a full day out. You’ll find several campsites, picnic areas, and suitable places to launch your paddle board from.
Maine’s Downeast region covers Washington County and Hancock County, bordering Canada and the great Atlantic Ocean. Are you ready for an adventure?
From Camden Harbor, you can paddle into the heart of West Penobscot Bay. Explore the waters around Curtis Island and grab a snap of the iconic working lighthouse. You’ll be paddling alongside cruising yachts, all while taking in the beautiful views of the Camden Hills and the islands of the bay.
Megunticook Lake is the largest in the Knox County area and offers some of the best fishing experiences. If you’re a keen angler, cast a line off your SUP to be in for the chance of catching brown smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and white perch.
You can launch your paddle board from Lake City, just off Turnpike Drive. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, perfect for a full day’s adventure on the water.
The Acadia National Park is one of the most spectacular places in Maine and a true joy to paddle board. This beautiful freshwater lake covers most of Mount Desert Island and has several quiet inlets and bays for you to explore.
If you are looking for a place to explore by SUP and immerse yourself in the local wildlife, then there is no better place than Acadia National Park. Expect to see seals, porpoises, and native seabirds throughout your paddle.
So you want a true escape? Get off the grid and go off the beaten path in Maine’s highlands. Pack your inflatable paddle board and let the adventure begin.
Moosehead Lake is Maine’s largest lake. This is a sensational place to explore by paddle board. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot some of the local wildlife; moose and deer populate this neighborhood.
To get the most out of your time here, you can join a guided tour with Northeast Whitewater. The local guides will take you through the inland waterways, showing you the scenic wildlife that makes this lake special. Both beginner and experienced paddlers will be able to enjoy this paddle board location.
The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is 92.5-miles of protected area. Most people choose to launch their SUP at Churchill Dam. From here, you can enjoy a day trip or take on a more ambitious multi-day expedition. Just make sure you plan your gear well and take all your supplies with you.
Paddle boarding in Maine is a must for any SUP enthusiast. Whether you are traveling light or haven’t managed to choose your ideal SUP yet, there are plenty of rental stores across the state ready to provide you with the best quality gear. Here are some recommendations for you to check out:
Maine has so many incredible destinations to stand up paddle board. Portland and Casco Bay offer some of the best conditions for both beginners and experienced paddle boarders. Highland Lake and Moosehead Lake are two inland and more remote destinations you can explore by SUP if you want to escape the crowds.
Portland’s central coast location means there are plenty of places to explore with your SUP. Casco Bay is a popular destination loved by both locals and tourists alike, offering calm waters near the shore and challenging conditions further out to sea. Highland Lake is less than an hour’s drive from Portland and is an equally amazing place to explore by SUP.
Yes! One of the best ways to experience Acadia National Park is by SUP. Either take your own equipment or hit up one of the rental stores to get your paddle board. As you paddle the beautiful waters, keep your eyes peeled for moose, deer, seabirds, and more incredible wildlife.
Maine law states that anyone under the age of 10 years must use a PFD when out on the water. While it’s not a requirement for anyone over 10 years of age, it’s always recommended to use a life jacket if paddling in open water or testing conditions.
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