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Lodging in Maine: 12 Places to Stay

Nov/Dec 2015


by in Jul 2007
Lodging in Maine: 12 Places to Stay
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By Wayne Curtis and Christina Tree

The Tidewater Motel, Vinalhaven

Finding a motel on an island an hour’s ferry ride offshore is an odd thing. Weren’t motels designed for cars, and islands for boats? Anyway, there it is, and what makes it even more appealing, and unusual, is that the name “Tidewater” is no flight of fancy. In fact, it’s pretty literal: The Tidewater is built on the pilings of an old bridge that once crossed an inlet to the harbor. The tides come and go, twice a day. So you’re not imagining the harbor’s dark waters swirling and eddying beneath your balcony — they are.

The rooms are basic; they won’t be appearing anytime soon in your favorite home decor magazine. But in the still of the night you can hear the restless tides slurping and sloshing as they build to a strong flow, then back around and set off in the other direction. And then there are the other harbor sounds come morning: gulls and lobster boats and lobstermen shouting ribaldries at one another in the dawn light.


The Maine Windjammer Fleet, Rockland and Camden

Aboard one of these schooners based in Maine — and Penobscot Bay is the Grand Central Terminal of the fleet — you hear this: the creaking of the hull, the whistling of the wind in the rigging, the clang of the pots and pans as the day begins. It’s a centuries-old symphony of the sea, and it’s a small marvel that you can still find it alive and well and performed every summer day.

The Maine Windjammer Fleet consists of 12 ships, and while all are different, they all follow the same schedule, one dictated by the tides and the breezes. Once you pull away from the dock, it’s up to the captain, the wind, and the weather to set your destination.

Accommodations vary from ship to ship — from nearly luxurious and private to a youth-hostel-like spareness. But the operative word among all is “cozy”; you awaken as if in a cocoon, rocked by the sea. And it doesn’t take long before you’re unmoored from everyday time and place.


Hermit Island, Small Point

For those who object to even a pane of glass getting between themselves and the sound of the surf, Hermit Island is the place to be. It’s one of Maine’s most striking campgrounds, with 275 sites spread across 255 acres of island, which is connected to the mainland by a causeway.

This campground, which is privately owned, has always been managed with tent campers in mind. RVs aren’t allowed (small pickup campers are permitted). You’re very close to the elements here, with some sites right amid the dunes overlooking the ocean. When the surf’s up, pounding along the white sand beaches and headlands, you’ll know in advance because your tent will be shaking and rattling in the wind. And when your tent is quiet and warmed with summer’s morning rays, you’ll know it’s a day to sun on the beach or kayak around the island’s many coves. Even in late summer, when the sky darkens before 8:00, you can sit at a picnic table for a candlelit game of hearts and let the murmurs of the sea keep score.


Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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