Penobscot has a long sailing history that is still prevalent today. All summer long, tall ships come in and out of the harbors of Camden, Rockport, and Rockland. Many are just passing through for the series of races, parades, and festivals held throughout the season, though some live in the area permanently. These schooners regularly take locals and visitors alike out for private chartered cruises around the bay. Even though it’s peak tourist season, with a little help and planning, visitors can get the best sail times (sunset obviously) and find their way into a variety of other fun activities, from film festivals to chamber concerts to all-you-can-eat lobster tastings.
Activities & Attractions
Sign up for an Exclusive Lobster Bake & Sail
Schooner Olad is a famous historic classic yacht built in 1927 that, from Memorial Day to mid-October, offers historic two-hour daily sails out of Camden, bringing 22 passengers to view the rocky shoreline’s sentry-like lighthouses and many hidden mansions. But only during the months of July and August does the 48-foot vessel feature a special trip: the Island Lobster Bake tour, which includes a half-day sail around Penobscot Bay and through the archipelago of Islesboro, followed by a stop at Warren Island, where the crew prepares a traditional Maine lobster bake of mussels in white wine sauce, lobster in drawn butter, local corn on the cob, and s’mores while the passengers explore the island (as well as Warren Island State Park). Only four of these tours are offered (dates for 2018 are Thursdays, July 19th and 26th, August 16th and 23), so it’s best to book now before they fill up.
See Baby Puffins before They Migrate
Puffins are adorable seabirds with awkward walks and bright, colorful beaks that, more than a century ago, were practically extinct off coastal Maine. But with the help of Project Puffin, a restoration organization for the beloved birds with a visitors center right in downtown Rockland, the species has bounced back. In fact, Eastern Egg Rock, a seven-acre island located in outer Muscongus Bay, is home to one of the most thriving colonies, where, during the months of June, July, and August, the fledgling puffin population is most active in preparation for winter migration. Starting in June and running through August, you can book a tour with Monhegan Boat Lines, departing out of Port Clyde (20 miles south of Rockland), to view these adorable chicks and their parents safely from a boat.
Take in a Bonanza of Chamber Music
While Bay Chamber Concerts is a year-round presenter of music, the organization really hits its stride with its special Summer Concert Series, where, across a six-week period from July through August, more than 40 concerts bring in artists from all over to the Rockport Opera House and Union Hall. See the full calendar here to base a visit around your favorite.
Sip a Summertime-Only Specialty
Penobscot Bay locals know that Rock Harbor Brewing is the place to go for a solid brew. In the warmer months, their beloved line of IPAs are brushed aside to make room for the Breakwater Wheat. This even-tempered wheat beer is insanely light and infused with a crisp fruity note as it is brewed in coriander and orange peel. This one is a great sipper on hot summer days and the perfect addition to any BYOB event, like Labor Day Weekend’s Camden Windjammer Festival Parade.
Festivals & Events
Great Schooner Race, 7/6
In the largest annual gathering of tall ships, schooners from all up and down the Atlantic coast meet in Islesboro at 9 a.m. and race down the coast to Rockport. Instead of watching from the sidelines, become part of the race by booking a ride on Schooner Olad or Heron, or sign up for a motorboat photo cruise that will take you up close and personal for snaps of the competitors.
North Atlantic Blues Festival, 7/14
Blues artists from all over the US and abroad converge on Rockport to play the main stage for a day of music followed by a Club Crawl, where artists set up in the more intimate venues around town for an encore.
Maine Lobster Festival, 8/1– 5
Town turns into a carnival for five days, complete with games, rides, and live entertainment, as well as tastings and lobster-themed cooking contests.
Screen Door Summer Festival, 8/15–20
World-class musicians like pianist Simone Dinnerstein and brass band Slavic Soul Party join the Bay Chamber Concerts for a five-day festival. These artists play all over town, from cafes to theaters to parks.
Windjammer Fest, 8/31–9/9
While the tall ships festival is officially from September 1 through 9, the kick-off day isn’t something you want to miss. The ships arrive into port, seemingly all at once, and the night caps off with a fireworks display that you can see by way of land or sea.
Camden International Film Festival, 9/14–17
This film festival celebrates the best independent documentaries made in the past year and often includes meet and greets and Q&As with the directors.
Where to Stay Samoset Resort