christmas cove - damariscotta river

Christmas Cove on the Damariscotta River

Looking for a great spot to visit on Maine’s MidCoast? Christmas Cove Maine is the place to go!

Maine’s mid-coast has so much to see from coves to lighthouses to anchorages to magnificent ocean views to hidden gems like Christmas Cove Maine.

Located on the Western side of Rutherford Island in South Bristol, Christmas Cove is the perfect example of picturesque Maine beauty that native Mainers and visitors alike love.

No, Christmas Cove isn’t located near the north pole, but it’s a magical place nonetheless. You won’t find snowglobes, holiday celebrations, or hot cocoa here, but what you will find are coastal beauty and wonderful views.

Whether you’re sailing around Boothbay Harbor or visiting Bristol or South Bristol, you’ll definitely want to make time to visit Christmas Cove Maine.

christmas cove - damariscotta river
Christmas Cove, Maine

Getting to Know Maine’s Christmas Cove

According to history, Christmas Cove is so named because it was visited by John Smith on Christmas Day in 1614 as he explored Maine’s coast.

Despite its holiday moniker, Christmas Cove is actually most popular with Mainers and tourists during the warm summer months. While it’s not a major tourist destination, it is one of the most beautiful destinations to sail to in the state.

Pretty sailboats and pleasure crafters dot the harbor and brightly colored cabin and cottage rentals line the shores of Christmas Cove. Paddle boarders, kayaks, and canoes ply the waters, and boats come and go from moorings, but it’s quiet and peaceful come evening and night.

It’s the kind of setting that inspires artists – you can launch your dinghy and tour around, or just sit in the sun on your boat deck and enjoy the setting.

It’s like Christmas in July (if you will pardon the namesake reference) where every day is a gift in Christmas Cove wrapped in a painter’s canvas.

Christmas Cove Marine
Christmas Cove, Maine

Fun Facts & FAQs About Christmas Cove Maine

Is there a Christmas town in Maine?

The small village of Christmas Cove Maine is located in South Bristol in Lincoln County.

How did Christmas Cove get its name?

It was visited by English explorer John Smith during Christmas of 1614 as he explored the coast.

What town is Christmas Cove Maine in?

Christmas Cove is located in South Bristol, which also includes the village of Walpole.

Christmas Cove, Maine
Christmas Cove, Maine | photo via @kurtsvetaka

Getting to Christmas Cove Maine

When the weather is nice, especially during the summer, Christmas Cove is as fine a spot to sail to as any in Maine. Christmas Cove is a great destination for yachters as part of your east-west passage in Maine’s Midcoast, on your way between Boothbay and Pemaquid Point.

So just how do you get to Christmas Cove Maine anyway?

For starters, it’s located about 65 miles from Portland and just 11 south of Damariscotta. If you’re sailing from Boothbay Harbor head east across Linkein Bay and then around Ocean Point.

From there you’ll want to cruise up the Damariscotta River just a few miles until you reach Christmas Cove, which will be on your right.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park

Experiencing the BEST Things To Do in Christmas Cove

Christmas Cove offers panoramic views and magnificent scenery, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of tourism. Nonetheless, there are quite a few things to do within an hour of the cove that allow visitors to experience all the best parts of Maine.

Stop For a Bite to Eat

For boaters, Christmas Cove offers excellent protection and a truly picturesque landscape. While not very expansive, the cove has lots of moorings and a few dock spaces, where most are reserved through Coveside Marina.

When you’re feeling hungry after exploring Christmas Cove by boat, stop in for a bite to eat at Coveside Restaurant and Marina. 

This offers a great chance to see the beauty of Christmas Cove and watch the sailboats pass by as you nosh on a great meal. Order seafood favorites like lobster rolls and fish tacos, or order a tasty sandwich or burger.

Travel to Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park

Maine has many great lighthouses and Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is worth seeing and is the perfect spot for lighthouse viewing and picnicking.

Believe it or not, it’s actually one of Maine’s most photographed lighthouses and was even featured on Maine’s state quarter. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

The lighthouse was built in 1827 and reconstructed in 1835 after damage from salt water. It became fully automated in 1934. The former keeper’s house is now the Fisherman Museum at Pemaquid and offers visitors a chance to see a slice of history with displays and artifacts.

Located at the very tip of Pemaquid Neck, the park is open from mid-May until late October and is just a shade of 14 miles from Christmas Cove.

You can get there by driving a few miles north of the South Bristol swing bridge, driving on Old Pemaquid/Harrington Road from Route 129 to Route 130, and then driving south for just a few miles.

Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Boothbay Harbor, Maine | photo via @michaelsmithphotoart

Visit the South Bristol Historical Society

If you love history, then a trip to the South Bristol Historical Society is a must.

The Society has excellent collections of photographs, giving visitors a first-hand look at the work of the talented Ann Hills, who captures the people of South Bristol in her photos.

The Society also has a collection of memorabilia and historical artifacts, postcards, as well as historic boat building and hotel photos.

During the year, the Society also hosts several programs that feature guest speakers, showcases of historic photographs, and even a summertime cemetery walk.

Explore Picturesque Boothbay Harbor

Whether you’re sailing to Christmas Cove from Boothbay Harbor or sailing back to Boothbay Harbor from Christmas Cove, make sure to leave some time for exploring Boothbay Harbor.

Boothbay Harbor has a rich history and so many fun things to do. You can spend time shopping at quaint boutiques, spend time on sandy beaches, and even make some new friends as you explore the town.

Monhegan Island
Monhegan Island | photo via @andrew_kenneth

Sail to Nearby Monhegan Island

Sailing your own boat and spending time on the water around Maine’s mid-coast in spots like Christmas Cove and Boothbay Harbor is undoubtedly fantastic.

But if you’ve had your fill of sailing, take a load off, let someone else do the driving, and make time to explore nearly Monhegan Island.

The island can be reached from Boothbay Harbor and visitors can take daily round trips from Memorial Day to Colombus Day. The cruise is a great way to relax, take some excellent photos, and maybe even see a few seabirds.

Attend a Clam Bake on Cabbage Island

Mainers and non-Mainers alike love mid-coast Maine for its views, its beaches, and of course its seafood.

Visitors can find great views and great food on Cabbage Island. Located between Boothbay Harbor and Christmas Cove, you can get there on a short ferry ride.

So what can you expect once you arrive? Well, for one thing, you’ll be greeted by the entire Moore family, which has owned the island since 1986. You’ll smell a fresh seafood clam bake awaiting you as well.

One tip we can offer is to come hungry. This Downeast tradition is delicious and the portions are generous. Come prepared to feast on fish chowder, lobsters, corn on the cob, potatoes, and more. Make sure to leave room for the tasty blueberry cake dessert too.

Cabbage Island Clambakes - Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Cabbage Island Clambakes | photo via @sandybeachoo

Staying in Christmas Cove Maine

Thinking of making a trip to Christmas Cove? You won’t find any lodging on the cove itself, but there are a few spots we can recommend nearby in Midcoast Maine.

Smuggler’s Cove Inn | Boothbay

The Smuggler’s Cove Inn in Boothbay is a great spot and a little less than an hour from South Bristol. Guests can enjoy a continental breakfast, a sea view from their balcony, and even a private beach area.

Hotel Pemaquid | New Harbor

Located less than 30 miles from Christmas Cove, this seasonal hotel is close to several restaurants as well as Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.

This hotel dates back to 1888 and has 30 unique rooms and two cottages, plus some of the best deals on Maine’s coast.

Flying Cloud Bed and Breakfast | Newcastle

This quaint bed and breakfast is a great place to stay and sits about 15 miles from the cove.

Not only can you get a great view of the waterfront during your stay, but you’re also just a short distance from the Pemaquid Peninsula and about 35 minutes from Freeport.

Vacation Rentals near Christmas Cove

While there are several hotel lodging options around Christmas Cove, we also recommend looking into any of the numerous vacation rentals around the cove too.

This South Bristol rental is located right on Christmas Cove and offers plenty of space and lots of amenities. If you’ve ever wanted to stay in a picturesque New England coastal home, now’s your chance!

This Classic Maine-style cottage offers more than 2,000 square feet of space with great views of the water, front, and sun porches, and is just a short distance from the cove.

Hotel Pemaquid - New Harbor, Maine
Hotel Pemaquid – Carriage House | photo via Don Shall

Making Plans to Visit Christmas Cove Maine Today

If you’re looking for your next hidden gem to explore in Maine, move Christmas Cove to the top of your list. This beautiful cove in Maine’s mid-coast is the perfect destination for sailing on a beautiful day.

Whether you want to take a slow cruise around the cove or tie up for a few hours and enjoy a meal at the Coveside Restaurant and Marina, you’ll enjoy yourself.

So pack all your sailing essentials, bring the entire family, and prepare to cast off. As you explore the cove and any nearby landmarks, islands, and coastal towns, you’ll really see and feel the best of everything Maine has to offer.

So plan your trip today because there’s no doubt that sailing to Christmas Cove is a day well spent.

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