Peaks Island, Maine
Adjectives ensue on the ferry ride to Peaks Island from Portland, Maine. Frothy, brilliant, sparkling, sea-salty. Everything that a quick, 20-minute ferry ride should be, until you dock at Forest City Landing, where Casco Bay ferries have been landing since the 1880s.
It’s easy to dream here on tiny Peaks Island. Of tall ships and seaside cottages and endless blue seas and crisp breezes. You can bike the circumference of this 1×2-mile knob of land in 40 minutes, according to Brad, who rents transportation at the unbelievable rate of just $15 for four hours, at Brad’s Island Bike Rentals (115 Island Ave.; 207-766-5639). But there’s no need to rush—beaches here are plentiful and accessible, a welcome change from the beach-rights squabbling that invades so many seacoast villages like red tide.
Time enough to pedal along Seashore Avenue and dip a toe in the vast brilliant water on the Atlantic “backshore” side of the island. Or explore the mysterious, leafy green paths winding inland, to little cottages festooned with porches, or the vestiges of concrete war bunkers, or the shadowy remnants of old Indian trails, weaving through sunlit pine groves. Easy enough to pass a lazy afternoon meandering along Island Avenue, just up the hill from the ferry landing, sampling a diverting assortment of shops and galleries sprinkled like beach glass: the Umbrella Cover Museum, the GEM Island Artists Gallery, and Take a Peak home and gift shop.
And then, park your bike at Peaks Island House, pick out a table on the veranda overlooking Casco Bay, and order up a Caesar wrap. Or kick back at the Cockeyed Gull, further down Island Avenue, where a chilled calamari cocktail meets orange curry yogurt, or sesame-encrusted salmon bumps up against a wasabi aioli seaweed garni.
Reason enough to pause as you circle the four-mile perimeter of Peaks Island. Dream a little dream.