Throughout Maine’s history, it has been rooted in the lobstering and fishing industry. Nearly every town on the coastline has a harbor, marina, or some way for boaters to access the sea. Maine harbors offer awesome experiences because each one has its own charm.
When visiting Maine, there’s no better place to watch the sun rise or set than at a harbor surrounded by boats, salty air, and wooden planks. While there are dozens of harbors to visit up and down the coast, those on our list offer the full experience with active harbors and delightful towns to explore.
Downeast & Acadia Area Harbors
The harbor in Stonington is a real, working fishing harbor where you can view fishing and lobster boats coming and going throughout the day. This isn’t the type of harbor where you’ll see luxury boats and yachts.
If you’re looking to catch a glimpse into the life of a fisherman or see how a working harbor functions, then Stonington is the harbor you want to visit.
Aside from the harbor, Stonington is a picturesque fishing village. With quaint shops, art galleries, lovely inns, historic buildings, hiking trails, and restaurants serving homestyle meals and seafood, there’s plenty to experience in Stonington.
Away from the hustle and bustle of larger harbors, Bass Harbor is a working harbor and fishing village located on Mount Desert Island. You’re sure to see many lobster and fishing boats cruising in and out of the harbor. Some moor their yachts at Bass Harbor, but all in all, it’s more of an active fishermen’s harbor.
The views of the harbor are stunning, but there’s also plenty to explore in the town of Bass Harbor and Acadia National Park. A popular attraction is the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, which is considered one of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine.
Enjoy a scenic walk or a rigorous hike, or explore the tidal pools along the Ship Harbor Trail. In the center of town are plenty of delicious dining options and small shops to check out.
Jonesport is a busy harbor that includes a working wharf operating from dawn to dusk. The wharf is where lobster boats unload and send their catches to markets throughout the year.
Also, you’ll see lobster and crab traps being built at the harbor or possibly see a boat being built. The harbor accommodates mostly the fishing fleet and a few recreational boats.
The town of Jonesport is not filled with tourist attractions. Rather, it’s a great place to unplug and unwind. Jonesport is home to a small, quirky museum called the Maine Coast Sardine History Museum that attracts visitors looking to learn more about the sardine industry.
If you’re visiting during the summer months, check the Maine Lobster Boat Races schedule. Jonesport is one of the racing harbors, and it brings a day of entertainment and a festival-like atmosphere to the quiet town.
Bar Harbor differs from the other Downeast Maine harbors in that it’s a big tourist destination and a bit busier. The town is such an active harbor that it has a cruise port.
There are working lobster boats, sailboats, yachts, and other water vessels that can be seen docked at the harbor. Catch a whale-watching tour, deep-sea fishing cruise, or kayak tour right from the harbor.
Bar Harbor has a beautiful downtown filled with shops, galleries, cafes, and delicious dining options. The main tourist attraction is Acadia National Park, with its stunning natural landscapes, hiking trails, and wildlife.
Harbors in Midcoast Maine
The harbor in Camden is a popular stop for locals and tourists alike. Here, you can set sail on a sightseeing cruise to view lighthouses or marine life. You’re sure to catch a glimpse of yachts, ships, and windjammers docked in the harbor.
There are numerous restaurants to dine at right at the waterfront, making it a perfect spot to sightsee and recharge.
Explore Camden’s downtown, which is filled with specialty shops, souvenir shops, boutiques, galleries, and cafes. If you’re looking for a nice hike, check out Camden Hills State Park, which has amazing views of the harbor.
Boothbay Harbor is a bit busier than some of the other sleepy fishing villages that you’ll find on this list. This fishing village attracts more tourists and has many family-friendly activities, outdoor recreation options, and a beautiful harbor.
The harbor offers not only gorgeous water views but also a mix of water vessels — yachts, fishing boats, windjammers, kayaks, and touring boats to view from the wooden boardwalks.
Venture into downtown Boothbay Harbor for colorful buildings housing shops, art galleries, and restaurants. The town is home to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens with beautiful sprawling gardens, flowerbeds, and butterflies to see.
Also, Boothbay Harbor features the Opera House, which showcases musical guests, comedians, and other entertainers.
Rockport Harbor is a smaller harbor with a lot of charm. Many working boats trek in and out of Rockport throughout the day with their fishing hauls.
Views of the harbor are wonderful from Rockport Marine Park where you can see the boats, have a picnic, and even go for a swim at the little beach. If you prefer a harbor that’s fairly quiet and scenic, Rockport Harbor is the perfect one to visit.
Southern Maine Coast Harbors
Perkin’s Cove in Ogunquit is a small harbor with amazing views in a picturesque fishing village. The harbor is a favorite among tourists for its picture-worthy boats docked along the boardwalk and its quintessential village.
Perkins Cove has a cliff walk that offers Atlantic Ocean views. Over 30 shops and restaurants surround the harbor, so you don’t have to walk far to be near all of the village’s action.
If you want to visit a historic harbor with multiple wharves, Portland Harbor is worth a trip. It has three sections of waterfront, including the Western, Eastern, and Central Waterfront.
The Eastern Waterfront is used for ferries and cruise ships. The Western Waterfront is for freight ships, and the Central Waterfront is utilized mainly for fishing boats.
The Central Waterfront is the most popular with locals and tourists because it is closest to downtown Portland. Visitors can shop, dine, and take in the lively Portland Harbor scene from this central location.
Wells Harbor is a great dock for seeing lobster and fishing boats, kayaks, small yachts, and tour boats. It is bustling in the summertime with tourists looking to see the 150 boats moored in the water.
Wells Harbor has a lovely park — the Wells Harbor Community Park — where visitors can picnic, play on the playground, or enjoy the views.
The town of Wells has a clean and beautiful beach — Wells Beach — which has swimmable waters and tidal pools for kids to explore. The beach makes for an excellent sunbathing spot as well. Plus, you can check out the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge for a scenic walk and bird-watching.
Discover Maine Harbors Along the Coast
While Maine harbors are typically open year-round, each season has a different atmosphere. Typically, the harbors are bustling with visitors, fishermen, and locals during warm weather seasons like spring, summer, and fall.
The harbors are still busy in late fall through winter and into early spring, but you’ll find more locals and dock workers than visitors.
Each harbor has a quintessential Maine village, town, or city with its own personality and vibe too. So on your next harbor visit, explore not only the waterfront but also the town that surrounds it.
No matter the time of year or the location, you can enjoy all that Maine is known for and has to offer at one of its magnificent harbors.