Castine is a delightful seaside village perched on the tip of a peninsula in Penobscot Bay, mid-coast Maine. Castine is one of the oldest and wealthiest communities in Maine, with a deep history of battles and occupations since the 1600s. From Natives to the Dutch and French Noblemen Castine who gave the town its name in1796 to The British, and now college students at Castine’s Maine Maritime Academy – Castine’s story is rich and complex.
There is so much to see and do in Castine, from the busy waterfront to the fabulous seaside cottages and hillside campus, to beaches and beautiful natural walking paths and Dyce Head Light Castine is also home to beautiful inns and BnB’s, waterfront restaurants serving fresh Maine seafood, shops and art galleries.
Top Things to do in Castine Maine
Go to Dennetts Wharf for lunch or dinner – ideally sit outside on the deck. Great seafood by the sea, a picture perfect setting with a casual but fresh menu. They boast the longest Oyster Bar in Maine, and a huge beer list. Pin a dollar on the wood beam sail loft rafters. Dollars accumulated have been donated to 911, Hurricane Katrina and to a local fireman in the past to the sum of $12k at each.
Stroll up the hill to Battle Ave to see over 100 historic markers, monuments and bunkers, this was a stronghold against the British during the 1700 and 1800s. Pick up a historical Castine walking map for reference as you tour the sights, Federal, Italianate and Victorian homes lining the grand elm tree lined streets of Castine.
Dine at Pentagoet Inn for the best food in Castine and friendly service steps from the waterfront. Stay at this charming 1894 BnB too. Pentagoet is the French word denoting the Penboscot.
Walk the campus of Maine Maritime Academy founded in 1941. About 1,000 students attend the maritime and oceanographic college on a beautiful seaside campus in Castine. The waterfront campus is an impressive training vessel -The State of Maine – a 500-foot naval research ship on on the dock unless it’s out for a semester at sea with student aboard. Only strategic drawback to Maine Maritime is its 87% male… #maletime academy.
Visit the grassy knolls of Castine’s Fort Madison, Fort Knox and Fort George, built during the nineteenth century to protect the harbor. Only the grass bunkers remain at Fort Madison, at the entrance to the harbor – its a scenic park for a pleasant picnic now. Fort George, built by the British in 1779, has been partially restored as a state memorial, marking the last fort surrendered by the British at the end of the Revolutionary War. Fort Knox, Maine’s largest historic fort, was built in 1884 to protect from potential British naval attack along the Penobscot River. Fort Knox is one of the best-preserved historic military forts in New England, The Fort is only open to visitors seasonally, but the grounds are open year-round.
Dyce Head Lighthouse is privately owned, not open to the public. Although the light was discontinued in 1935, the original Keeper’s house, barn and oil house still remain on the property.
Witherle Woods is a spectacular 185-acre preserve on the Castine peninsula, with 4.2 miles of trails for hiking, walking or even enjoying a picnic lunch at Blockhouse Point with views of Penobscot Bay and Wadsworth Cove. Wear sneakers or hiking shoes for these great but rustic trails that bring you to old battle batteries and spectacular lookouts. There are more challenging hikes on nearby Blue Hill Mountain or further north – the famous Acadia National Park.
Castine’s best beaches are Wadsworth Cove and Backshore Beach, this protected cove offers smooth pebbly sand and a gentle surf. The western exposure provides great views of Penobscot, the Camden hills and is a perfect place to watch the sunset. Pack a cooler – no services here.
History buffs will love Wilson Museum run by Castine’s Historical Society loaded with ancient farming equipment. Visit the pre-revolutionary John Perkins House, blacksmith shop and The Abbott School -a restored old school house. Castine Public Library is another beautiful building.
Travelling by boat to Castine, arrive at 3 for a slot on the Town Docks, and go out to Pond Island for a picnic by day, bring your dinghy to explore this gem of an island surrounded by beaches, a tidal pond sits in the center with views of the Camden Hills and neighboring Hog Island.
By Heather Burke, – Copyright & Photo 2018 by VisitMaine.net