Hopefully you are getting excited about your trip to DownEast Maine. I’ve compiled a list with answers to some common questions that are asked by vacationers to the area. I also recommend that you stop in at the Machias Bay Chamber of Commerce — they are very helpful in answering questions and can help you make the most of your trip. It is located at 2 Kilton Lane – on the corner of Rt 1 in Machias, in the old train station (across from Helen’s Restaurant).
Also, browse around our website – Wicked Awesome Maine – I try to keep all of the local information updated and add to the blog/local guide regularly. There is also information on shopping, places of worship, hiking, restaurants and other tourism information.
Traveling with kids? Check out this blog posting.
Local events are often posted on our calendar of events.
We are asked quite a bit about swimming beaches. The beaches, for the most part in this area, are more rocky than sandy. The water remains extremely cold, even in summer. August has the warmest ocean temperatures — usually in the mid 50’s (hypothermia can still be a consequence from prolonged exposure). Other times of the year are much colder. For hardy folk who still want to take a dip, we definitely recommend Roque Bluffs State Park.
If you take a right to head to Machiasport – just past the University — about 10 miles down Port Road, you’ll come to Jasper Beach on the left (there is a sign that leads to the parking lot). It is very unique — with dunes that are comprised of millions of smooth rocks — and the waves ‘sing’ as they break.
Gray’s Beach. The nearest sandy beach is a beach called Grey’s Beach. This is our ‘secret’ beach that very few people except locals know about (shhhh. Please keep the secret). It’s on the opposite side of the peninsula that makes up Machiasport. Head south onPort Road through Machiasport. Take a right on New Hickey Road (if you go down the hill and see the Jasper Beach sign, you’ve gone too far). Follow New Hickey Road to “guard gates’ — take a left just before the guard gate onto a dirt road. Follow it… forever (maybe a mile?)… and it will end at the beach. There is parking here for several cars. Again, no facilities. The beach is wide with sand and gravel. A great spot for kids to run around and splash in the tide pools. (We also don’t recommend heading to this beach during mud season or after a period of prolonged rainfall unless you have 4 wheel drive).
Roque Bluffs State Park,
in Roque Bluffs.Roque Bluffs is home to a state park and features a sandy beach on one side of the road and a freshwater lake on the other (as well as several miles of walking trails). When travelers ask where the best place to go for swimming is, we usually steer them here. The half-mile-long beach is surrounded by quaint vintage summer cottages and beach roses. Dogs are not permitted on the beach, but they are permitted, on leashes, on the walking trails. There are also picnic tables, bbq grills, restrooms and a small playground for the itty-bitties.
Because this is a state park, there is a parking fee (and ample room for parking). The parking is a ‘self-pay’ box on the honor system, so you will want to make sure that you have the exact amount in cash when you visit. Adult non-Maine residents are $6 per person and seniors are $2. Children under 5 are free and children ages 5-11 are $1. If you have a group or are planning to visit for more than a day (or several Maine state parks), it might be less expensive to purchase a pass which can be purchased online.
Follow the below links for more information on fishing in Maine.
IF you are driving up the coast on Route 1 on your way to our area and have the time to stop — there are several great ‘antique’ shops along the way. There are several in Searsport, along with outdoor flea markets in season.
Also on Rt 1 in Ellsworth (heading into Ellsworth from the south), is an antique store called the Big Chicken Barn
, which is huge and filled with treasures. There is also several other antique stores in Ellsworth – The Old Creamery Antique Mall
and The Dream Catcher.
Up in the DownEast area, there are numerous smaller shops — many out of private homes — just look for signs as you drive by. In the town of Machias, there is an antique store – Ray Foster Antiques and Fine Art
. Antiques and other treasures can also be found in the most unlikely of places in Machias — Machias Hardware
, Parlin’s Flowers
, Obadiah’s Bohemian
Cafe and Trading Post, Re-Find Furnishings
and Bag O Rags Thrift store.
Quoddy Head Light
– which is one of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine (It’s a state park so, like Roque Bluffs, there is a small parking fee via honor box). Lubec is a nice day trip with a few restaurants and shops (although, many are seasonal). If you have your passport on you, you can take the bridge from Lubec over to Campobello Island where you’ll find Head Harbour Light and Mulholland Light.
LOBSTER AND FISH MARKETS
While there are several choices for purchasing lobster, the sources for other varieties of seafood can be surprisingly scarce (most are sold wholesale across the world). However, the local supermarkets – Hannafords and Manafords often stock very locally caught seafood. Scallops are in season during the winter months, so spring through autumn visits, you will most likely encounter frozen.
If you are interested in taking a boat tour, we recommend that you call as soon as your plans are firmed up — some popular tours fill up months in advance.
Robertson Sea Tours
— Milbridge. They offer quite a few different kinds of boat trips — lobster picnics, puffin and whale watch, lighthouse cruises, etc.
Bold Coast Charter
— Cutler. Like Robertson Sea Tours, they often sell out months in advance.
KAYAK AND CANOE RENTALS
Currently, none of our rental homes provide kayaks or other watercraft and any boats that may be found on the property are not ours to lend.
Sunrise Canoe & Kayak.
I can’t say enough good things about this company. They have great tours of the Machias Bay area that are highly recommended. They also have kayak rentals and will deliver them to the property for you, if requested.
We are asked quite often if we know someone — a friend or neighbor – who is willing to give a personalized fishing/lobstering lesson. I’m sorry to say that our neighbors and friends who fish and lobster for a living, just don’t have the time to give guided instructions and tours, nor do they have the liability insurance to have someone on their boat (but I keep trying!) These are best done through one of the various boat tours.
There are a few companies out of Eastport that offer fishing trips. Also, a few out of the Bar Harbor area.
Grand Lake Stream Outdoor Adventures – 207-796-5557 (no website – guided fishing, kayak, and ATV tours)