Penobscot Bay is a great area for your vacation on the east coast. Dotted with islands and inlets, it is sheltered from the Atlantic rollers and winds and is made up of a few tiny communities, reliant on the visitors and the fishing of this fabulous mid-Maine, rocky shored landscape. Rockport is one of the most pleasant and smallest of the towns of Penobscot, centred around a very pretty harbour.
Penobscot Bay was formed in the Holocene geological era, about eleven millennia ago. The sea level was lower and glaciation was in full swing, in this last major ice age. At this time, the region was a canyon with islands instead of mountains. The complex forces of glaciers and erosion have combined to carve out an intricate series of inlets and cliffs, islands and channels. You could spend days kayaking or sailing amongst the eleven islands, or heading up river. The scenery, with trees crowning the rocky coastline, is every changing and stunning.
Rockport is only two miles around a headland from the more touristy, larger Camden. So you’ve got the best of all worlds: peace and quiet in a small community, but access to more shops and services just a few minutes drive away. Centered around the harbour, the small winding streets are home to under a thousand families, many of whom rent out their lovely houses to summer visitors. One of America’s prettiest towns, according to Forbes, Rockport remains something of a hidden gem – a place of artists and anglers, small cafés and bistros. Wander among the galleries and watch the boats bob up and down on the water. Enjoy the history and culture of such a gorgeous New England coastal retreat.
This area of Maine is probably best suited to the mature couple, seeking peace and quiet, wanting to mooch around the historical streets and soak up the atmosphere. There are many simply pleasures to enjoy, whether fishing or hiking, watching the world go by from a harbour side restaurant or spotting the birds that frequent these Atlantic shores. You certainly wont be overrun by tourists or have your conversations drowned by amusement arcades or booming nightclub music. Instead, you’re more likely to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves, or hear the call of the birds. Canada geese, sea ducks, loons and grebes come here to fish or on their long journeys, enjoying the rich waters.
When you want to stretch those legs and enjoy the views, there are plenty of good hikes to be had, from easy to more strenuous. Head from the limestone quarry up through the public gardens, passing several of the historic lime kilns on country roads. Only three miles long, this is a village walk. If you want to head further afield, there are six good hikes from neighbouring Camden, ranging from under two miles to over five. Many take you up Mount Megunticook, to afford wonderful views of the bay and out to sea. In Camden Hills State Park, at the campsite, you can take two routes up to the summit, one slightly steeper than the other. It’s only 419 metres high, but the lookouts are awesome … and sometimes it feels a lot more than 419 metres!
There’s no hurry to do much of anything, however. You can simply relax and read under the sun. Admire the sunsets, or cast a lazy line into the water. Let the selection of good restaurants prepare you delicious fresh seafood. Take your time and put your life on idle for a couple of weeks.
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