The Quoddy Loop is an international loop of coastal and island communities in the Bay of Fundy, running along the coastlines of Maine and New Brunswick with a few options on the homeland of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
Its allure lies in natural beauty, cultural richness, and off-the-beaten-path exploration. It’s a road trip, a boat adventure, and a walking tour wrapped into one adventure where you move at your own pace yet cover so much ground.
Grab your passport and ready for this trifecta of travel that you can only find in Downeast Maine and its neighbors.
Where Is the Quoddy Loop?
The Quoddy Loop surrounds Passamaquoddy (‘pass-uh-muh-‘kwah-dee) Bay, a smaller body of water within the famous Bay of Fundy. It’s about as “downeast” as Downeast Maine gets and then crosses into New Brunswick’s mainland and islands.
While more than two dozen towns are on the loop, the main destinations are:
- New Brunswick Canada: St. Stephen, Saint Andrews, St. George, Deer Island, and Campobello Island
- Passamaquoddy Tribal Land: Indian Township and Sipayik (Pleasant Point)
Here’s a map to help you get your head around all the destinations possible on the Quoddy Loop.
Preparing for the Quoddy Loop
The beauty and complexity of the Quoddy Loop is that you are your own travel agent unless you actually want to get someone else to coordinate it for you. Let’s save you that cost and get you on your way.
Quoddy Loop Airports
You have two airports to choose from — closest to Lubec, Maine’s Quoddy Loop center point.
First, on the American side, is Bangor International Airport. You’ll need to rent a car here and take the 2.5-hour drive (116 miles) to Lubec (or wherever you start).
For those who prefer the Canadian side, the Saint John Airport has daily flights to Montreal and Toronto. That’s also about a 2.5-hour drive (132 miles) to Lubec, but you can also start the trip in Calais (“CAL-iss”), which is just 85 miles.
Crossing Quoddy Loop International Borders
A few important notes will make your trip planning easier.
First, Maine is in the Eastern Time Zone, while New Brunswick is in the Atlantic Time Zone. That means anything on the Canadian side is an hour later than in Maine. So when you cross from Canada into Maine, you’ll gain an hour.
Second, you need a passport, which will be required every time you cross the border. All the information you need can be obtained by visiting the U.S. State Department website and/or the Canada Border Services Agency.
If traveling to Canada by private boat, review the requirements before you touch Canadian land.
Driving the Canadian Side of Quoddy Loop
You’ll notice one big difference when driving between the United States and New Brunswick — speed and distance are measured in kilometers.
Speed limits are posted in kph, but most signs will simply have a number on it — like “SPEED LIMIT 50.” That means 50 KILOMETERS per hour, not 50 miles per hour. For reference, 50 kph is 31 mph. To get a rough estimate, you can do simple math by multiplying miles by 1.6 or dividing kilometers by 1.6. (We usually need a calculator.)
Quoddy Loop Currency
U.S. dollars will be the only currency accepted on the U.S. side of the Quoddy Loop. Campobello Island does accept USD or CAD (Canadian dollars). Otherwise, expect all prices to be in CAD across the border. When in doubt, ask if the price is USD or CAD. Many businesses will let you use a debit or credit card and give you the exchange rate.
Quoddy Loop Ferries & Bridges
The Quoddy Loop is a mix of roads, ferries, and bridges that connect all the islands. We’ve gathered all the information in one place to help plan your Quoddy Loop trip.
Sometimes, an island might be accessible by car, but the ferry’s much faster. Most ferries allow cars, so you’ll keep your vehicle with you.
Here’s a breakdown of the primary travel options for the islands and mainlands of the Quoddy Loop.
Lubec is on the mainland of the United States, right at the border cross with Campobello Island. You’ll cross to Campobello Island using the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Bridge. You can drive or walk across.
A water taxi is available from Lubec to Eastport, which is on Moose Island and still on the U.S. side of the border. Or, you can drive between Lubec and Eastport, a 38-mile trip.
From Moose Island (Eastport), you can take a scenic cruise to Campobello, but as of this publication, there is no longer a car ferry between Eastport and Canada.
Campobello Island connects to Lubec via the bridge, but you can also take a ferry to Deer Island. Cars are allowed on the ferry.
Traveling from the Canadian side, you must take the L’etete ferry to Deer Island. That takes you from the mainland to the island and back. Better yet, the ferry is free!
From Deer Island, take the ferry to Campobello Island or L’etete. To reach Grand Manan, you must drive 17 miles from L’etete to Blacks Harbour.
Grand Manan Island
The journey to Grand Manan Island is only through Blacks Harbour. The ferry service charges different prices for residents vs. non-residents, but you can take your car with you on the boat for an extra fee.
White Head Island
You’ll get to White Head Island from Grand Manan Island because it sits on the backside of Grand Manan. The ferry is free, even with a car, and takes less than 30 minutes in each direction.
NOTE: There is no ferry service between Campobello Island and Grand Manan.
You access St. Andrews, St. George, and St. Stephen on the Canadian side. St. Stephen is just across the border from Calais, St. Andrews is on its own peninsula, and St. George is between L’etete and Black Harbour. The three cities are 44 miles apart.
Maine Destinations on Quoddy Loop
We will explore some key Quoddy Loop destinations, touching on things to do, where to eat, and places to stay. In our guide, we begin in Maine.
Calais is a railroad town, home to the first one in Maine. The St. Croix Historical Society details the historic district and lighthouse that should be must-sees on your Quoddy Loop stop.
You can’t visit the Saint Croix Island International Historic Site, but there’s a visitor’s center on the banks of the river. The Calais Walkway is a great way to stretch your legs on a road trip and walk 1.5 miles along the river and old railroad path.
When hunger strikes, Riverview Restaurant & Lounge cooks up some “near famous” smoked wings with an array of seasonal brews. If you need a place to stay overnight, we recommend the Calais Crossing Bed & Breakfast.
TIP: Take a 10-mile drive off the beaten path for “Washington County’s Best Kept Secret” at the Nook & Cranny Restaurant. Don’t let the fact that it’s housed in a former chicken coop scare you off. You can thank us later.
Eastport is the easternmost city in the United States, and it’s hard to beat the sunrise at the Easternmost Buoy. Grab another at the Eastport Fisherman Statue. You can take a boat tour to Old Sow, one of the top five natural whirlpools in the world. Then, walk through the Tides Institute and Museum of Art.
If visiting the whirlpool stirred up an appetite, grab some famous lobster rolls, haddock, or comfort foods from Old Sow Grill, or head to the Happy Crab. You can dine at the oldest diner in Maine too — WaCo Diner.
Plenty of historic and waterfront home rentals are available, but we can’t resist this home with beautiful sunrises over Passamaquoddy Bay and views of Campobello Island.
TIP: On the way in or out of Eastport by car, visit the Waponahki Museum in Pleasant Point, which honors the Passamaquoddy Tribe that lived off this land 10,000 years before settlers arrived.
It’s easy to be blinded by Downeast beauty in Lubec, but the history here tells an even more eye-opening story. Visit the Historic McCurdy’s Herring Smokehouse and Historical Society and Museum to learn about the canning and captivating military history of the town.
TIP: If you’re crossing into Canada, review the food you can and can’t take across the border.
Machias & Machiasport
Machias (“Muh-CHI-us”) is located 28 miles from Lubec, and Machiasport is another 4 miles away. Try to time your trip to the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival. You’ll never look at those “other” blueberries the same again.
We’ll be honest — Campobello Island is one of the most popular stops on the Quoddy Loop. Learn how the Roosevelts lived at their summer home, now Roosevelt Campobello International Park. It’s one of just a few locations run by American and Canadian park officials.
Herring Cove Provincial Park is a treasure trove of nature. Golfers can even get in nine holes. Plus, lighthouse lovers should put Head Harbour Lighthouse on their Quoddy Loop itinerary. It’s the oldest surviving lighthouse in New Brunswick.
Grab a meal at the cottage on Roosevelt Campobello’s land. Breakfast includes fresh baked goods and fish cakes at The Porch at Frair’s Bay Inn & Cottages (maybe stay there a night, too?).
Or, feel like a lighthouse keeper while staying on the coastline at this newly renovated Oceanfront Cottage.
A new island brings the Old Sow, as Deer Island Point Park is “Home to the Largest Tidal Whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere.” You’ll find the Deer Island Lighthouse here too.
TIP: Head to the lighthouse three hours before high tide to see Old Sow in action.
On the way to the next ferry, stop by Oceanview Takeout — what Mainers would call a lobster shack. And in what might be the only time I’ll get to recommend corn at an ice cream shop, don’t miss the street corn at CC’s Treats. It sells out quickly.
While most people use Deer Island as a stopping point on a day trip, the Captain’s Quarters offers a chance to sleep in a home that’s more than two centuries old with multiple water views.
You’ll take the ferry to and from Deer Island here, and one of the main attractions nearby is Green’s Point Lighthouse. You’ll pass the rocky but scenic Kelly’s Beach on the way. And, tack on Back Bay Loop for a more scenic drive to St. George.
NOTE: Campsites are the only accommodations on this part of the peninsula.
This picturesque fishing town is on the way to the next Quoddy Loop destination, but — wow — don’t just drive through. The St. George Gorge at First Falls stuns in the present day but also shares a spot in history as this was once assumed to be the U.S.-Canadian border! Be sure to see the upper and lower sections of the falls.
The food scene might not be the most robust, but you shouldn’t miss a piece of pie or a stack of fried clams at Ossie’s Lunch. The Pub on Main also has your favorite seafood sandwiches, or seize the chance to “Build Your Own Poutine.” If you stay at the Granite Town Hotel, you’ll get a free breakfast.
Just 30 minutes from St. George, you should plan to eat or stay in St. Andrew for one of the most unique New Brunswick seaside experiences. Drive the ocean floor (only at low tide!!) to Ministers Island, and explore hundreds of acres of shoreline with the magnificent Van Horn Estate open for tours.
FACT: Ministers Island was the summer estate of Sir William Van Horne, the Canadian Pacific Railroad’s President.
While you’re here, plan a tour or trip through the Huntsman Marine Science Centre to learn more about the volatile Bay of Fundy. Other places to visit and things to do include:
- St. Andrews Blockhouse National Historical Site
- St. Andrews Lighthouse
- Kingsbrae Garden
- Jolly Breeze water tours
Experience the amenities of the historic and sophisticated Algonquin Resort St. Andrews-by-the-sea Autograph Collection. Former guests include Princess Diana of Wales and Diana Ross.
Water Street is lined with restaurants that make it hard to narrow down where to grab a bite. Char and Chowder is dockside and offers impressive views with daily specials that weave in options like Beef Bourguinon. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to McGuire Chocolate Company’s cafe.
Before or after the ferry to Grand Manan Island, take some time to explore Blacks Harbour. Connors Bros. Nature Preserve at Pea Point is a craggy coastline with a lighthouse view on a nearby island. You can walk there at low tide. Lighthouse Point Lighthouse sits on the eastern edge of the peninsula.
The Kitchen at Black’s Harbour is one of the only options near the ferry. On the way to the ferry, you’ll pass Harbour Road Pub & Eatery. Definitely try the Acadian specialty of poutine at either one.
Most accommodations here will be rental homes, which are few and far between. The available ones — like this Bold Oceanfront Cape Style Home on the Bay of Fundy — are quite spectacular.
Grand Manan Island
You have every coastal accoutrement you could imagine once you take the ferry to Grand Manan. Whale-watching boat tours, scenic kayak trails, cliff views towering 350 feet high, and nearly half a dozen lighthouses await.
The island’s western edge is cliff-ridden, but the eastern shoreline includes beaches of sand and rocks. The beaches here are ideal for beachcombing for sea glass, pottery pieces, driftwood, and shells.
For good eats, Post Office Pizza doubles as a restaurant and a historic site, serving New York-style pizza. Huge lobster rolls and other seafood delights await at Sunrise Seafoods. And, overnight accommodations are largely cottages dotting the east side of the island.
White Head Island
A short ferry ride gets you to the even more remote White Head Island where one of the best activities is to drive or walk the trails. Even the toughest hike takes an average of two hours.
Look for beaches on the backside of the island, with a surprising amount of sand and an even more surprising lack of beach at high tides.
NOTE: This is a few hours of the trip for most Quoddy Loop tourists. You won’t find a selection of restaurants or hotels here.
Just across the border from Calais is St. Stephen, “Canada’s Chocolate Town.” While St. Stephen is a historic shipbuilding and fishing town, chocolate pays the bills these days. Ganong Bros Ltd. is the town’s largest employer, and you can explore this history at The Chocolate Museum.
Put the International Homecoming Festival on your calendar if you’re taking the Quoddy Loop in August, where Calais and St. Stephen celebrate their two-nation friendship.
Staying overnight? Enjoy the “feels like home” vibe of The Coach House.
Conquering the Quoddy Loop
As if two nations, five islands, and nearly a dozen towns aren’t hard enough, it can’t be stressed enough how much you are also at the mercy of the tide when adventuring around the Quoddy Loop. Beaches are swallowed at high tide. Islands (and attractions on them) become inaccessible.
TIP: Tide schedules are known two years ahead, giving you plenty of time to plan.
Some people complete the Quoddy Loop in three to five days, while others spend a month or more leisurely exploring. There’s no right or wrong way to tackle the Quoddy Loop. And, we’d love to hear how you plan to explore this unique region!