Kayaking in Arcadia National Park

Kayaking in Arcadia National Park
Acadia National Park was formed in 1919, when it was known as Lafayette National Park. The park is a haven for those who enjoy outdoor activities, such as biking, hiking and camping. The area is particularly suited to kayaking because most of the park is located on an island that is surrounded by bays and harbors. There are areas suited for novice and experienced kayakers alike, so anyone can enjoy a day on the water in Acadia National Park.


The park's name was changed to Acadia when the park came under the jurisdiction of the National Parks Service. The land for the park was purchased with donations from local citizens and visitors from nearby areas, all of whom enjoyed spending summers in the area now known as Acadia National Park. Most of the land that makes up the part is contained on Mount Desert Island, with an additional portion located on the mainland, directly adjacent to the island. The town of Bar Harbor, Maine, has historically been considered the gateway to Acadia National Park and has traditionally been used as a base camp for those vacationing in the park.


The Geography of Acadia National Park is perfectly suited to kayaking. The island location of the park is surrounded by a number of bays and harbors that offer an abundance of kayaking opportunities. S kayaking here is a different experience than river kayaking. It provides scenic views of the island from a unique perspective and interaction with whales and other wildlife is not uncommon. Public kayaking operators offer beginner kayaking tours that are operated out of Frenchman Bay and Bar Harbor. More experienced kayakers may wish to strike out on their own from Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor. There are also boat landings located at Seal Cove, Bass Harbor, Seal Harbor Beach, Hadley Point and the Bar Island Gravel Bar. In addition to the bays and harbors that surround Acadia National Park, the park is nearly cut in half by Somes Sound, which provides unique inland waterways to navigate.


Safety considerations should always be in the front of your mind when kayaking at sea, particularly in the Atlantic Northeast. Although scenic and beautiful, the waters off the coast of Maine have specific hazards and cautions for which those kayaking at sea should be prepared. Tidal drifts, rough seas and dense fog are all challenges that will commonly present themselves off the coast of Acadia National Park. The water can also be cold even during the summer months, dipping down to as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep these safety concerns in mind and learn how to perform a self-rescue in your kayak. If at all possible, kayak with one or more friends.

Expert Insight

Those with more experience at navigating a kayak through the sea may wish to weigh the risks and strike out on their own, while others may wish to be part of a guided kayak tour. There are several companies that offer guided tours in the areas of Frenchman Bay and Bar Harbor. Two of the most established companies are National Park Sea Kayak Tours and Coastal Kayaking Tours. Links to both of these companies can be found in the Resources section below. Each one offers several different guided tours, allowing you to fill an entire vacation without seeing the same location twice.

Article Written By Wirnani Garner

Wirnani was born in the Philippines, where she had constant access to a rural jungle environment. In addition to exploring the island jungles, Wirnani spent much of her youth interacting with local wildlife, swimming in the Philippine Sea and rafting on the Davao River. She also routinely went on backpacking trips along the trails of Mount Apo, the highest peak of the Philippine Islands. Wirnani currently lives near the Ozark Mountains of Northern Arkansas. The location provides an abundance of hiking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking and fishing opportunities. When she's not spending time outdoors, Wirnani enjoys studying biology and human health sciences.

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