Sailboats and motorboats rest at anchor in Rockport Harbor, Maine, on a beautiful summer day. Editorial credit: James Dalrymple /

11 Best Coastal Towns In Maine

From craggy cliffs and wild forests to sandy beaches, the US State of Maine's coast is a paradise for all pursuits. These towns come bountiful with seafood and endless water vistas as the most-demanded scenic escapes in Maine.

Bar Harbor

Aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine
Aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine. 

The historic resort town is ideally situated between the untouched wilderness of Acadia National Park and the craggy straits of Mt. Desert Narrows. Many artists and outdoorsy people, who settled there for endless adventures and diverse sighs, are happy to advise that explorations must start at the low tide across the bridge, with a panoramic view from the Bar Island. Perched on Mount Desert Island, the town has various water-bound restaurants for views to accompany the freshly-caught seafood dinner, prepared with a down-east twist. Set as the façade of the Cadillac Mountain, the downtown area resonates with unmatched Victorian splendor, alongside the beautiful selection of souvenir stands and local artists for a lasting memory of the destination that must be experienced to be believed. For more adventures, one can take the National Park Tour via a catamaran, making a slight detour to see the Lighthouse. 

Boothbay Harbor

View of Boothbay Harbor, Maine at sunset in autumn
View of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, at sunset in autumn. 

Boothbay Harbor is a picture-perfect getaway known for the tranquil seaside horizon dotted by islands, coves, and rocky shores. The authentic Mid-coast feel of New England’s boating capital resonates in its lighthouses and thriving shipyards that also present a paradise for the adventurous photographers. The active rejoices in fishing, sailing, yachting, and kayaking the bountiful waters, while the nature fans love sighting puffins, whales, seals, and migratory birds. Rooted in the British Colonial era, Boothbay Harbor became centrally industrious in the 19th century with seafood harvests and quickly spanned out into tourism as it is known today. The inviting coast is brimful of shops, attractions, and waterfront dining, while the stroll-worthy Main Street is aligned with historic buildings. There’s also the Maine State Aquarium and the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, with 295 tidal acres snaked by nature trails.


View of Camden, Maine harbor from the summit of Mount Battie, Camden Hills State Park, in autumn.
View of Camden, Maine harbor from the summit of Mount Battie, Camden Hills State Park, in autumn. 

Although Maine’s best-kept secret, Camden gets busy with those who know about its heaven for shopping, outdoor pursuits, and diversified beach fun. Following a hike through the Hills State Park, one must end it on a “high” note from the Mt. Battie viewing point for the sunset over the marvelous Penobscot Bay. One can also take a sailing cruise through the bay aboard a historic Windjammer, followed by some beach time at the Barret’s Cove on Megunticook Lake. The stroll-worthy Highstreet historic district features mesmerizing homes from the 1800s, such as the Camden Public Library (1796) with a park and an amphitheater next door. After checking out the beautiful Camden Opera House, which opened in 1894 at 29 Elm Street, one will be right in the heart of town to pop into one of the many eateries for a refreshing drink and bite. For more scenic adventures, there’s the Camden Snow Bowl, Curtis Island, Merryspring Nature Center, and hiking trails at the Mount Megunticook, while June in Camden comes with a Jazz festival and the Windjammer.

Cape Elizabeth

Portland Head Lighthouse at sunset at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Portland Head Lighthouse at sunset at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. 

A short drive out of Portland, Cape Elizabeth offers some of the most stunning views in Southern Maine to explore by bike. The charming coastal town appears frozen in time while housing an array of attractions and modern amenities for a wholesome getaway. Overlooking the Casco Bay, there are expansive rocky shores, ocean-side parks, beaches, and the notable lighthouses serving as striking statements on water and reflection of the region's proud maritime history. Maine's oldest and nation's most photographed lighthouse, the Portland Head Light, is set at Fort Williams' 19th-century military installation-border of Portland Harbor. The Crescent Beach State Park comes with a dense forest-bounded sandy shore, while the Two Lights State Park offers an ocean-side picnic area. The endless historic sites and majestic coastal views include more lighthouses, such as the Cape Elizabeth Light. With many sea-side shacks offering quick bites, one can snack on lobster and other sea treasures any time of day. The many green islands around call the restless adventurers.


Sailboat anchored near shoreline of Castine, Maine
Sailboat anchored near the shoreline of Castine, Maine. 

About 130 miles north of Portland, Castine is one of the prettiest towns in Maine. Set at the mouth of the Penobscot River, the historic beach getaway offers a unique combination of a quaint environment with a varied choice of pursuits. Home to many traditionally grand New England-style buildings, one can stroll to admire the beauties dating back to 1796, when the town was founded. The Wilson Museum and the Castine Historical Society, set inside a cute schoolhouse, provide more details on the area's rich history. In town, one will find the nation's second-oldest post office, along with a delightful bakery, the Markel's Bakehouse, seafood at The Breeze & Castine Variety, and the quirky The Compass Rose Bookstore and Café. The water fans can take an epic kayak tour, stroll along, and stop by the Wadsworth Cove Beach while making sure to sight the Dyce Head Lighthouse dating back to 1828.


Woman with umbrella walking on marina harbor pier in Damariscotta, Maine
Woman with umbrella walking on a marina harbor pier in Damariscotta, Maine. Editorial credit: Kristi Blokhin /

Accessed via a scenic drive, one better hope there's battery life left to capture all the historic mansions in this heaven for oyster-lovers. There's the Lincoln Theater from 1875, the iconic Renys Department Store, Skidompha Secondhand Book Shop with over 20,000 books, along with the St. Patrick's Church in Newcastle from 1807. One can learn about the region's primary industry at the Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site, featuring "mounds of mounds" of discarded oyster shells. The best eateries include the King Eider's Pub and Restaurant, the Shuck Station, and the Schooner Landing, while the Oxbow Brewing Company is a must-visit local brewery inside an old farmhouse in Newcastle. For some fun in-town, there's the Sherman's Maine Coast Book Shop and Damariscotta Pottery, along with touring the local oyster farms during the epic Damariscotta Oyster Celebration in early summer. The beautiful Damariscotta River is great for cruising and kayaking, while October brings about the quintessential Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta, with races through the harbor in boats carved out of pumpkins. 


End of the afternoon light sublimates the view from the St. Anthony's monastery garden on Kennebunkport's harbor.
End of the afternoon light sublimates the view from the St. Anthony's monastery garden on Kennebunkport's harbor. Editorial credit: Pernelle Voyage /

Incorporated in July 1653, the charming fishing village of 3,500 people exudes New England charm with quaint waterfront shops, captain's homes, and ports. The nation's popular beach destination since the 19th century, Kennebunkport got international recognition following George H.W. Bush's family summers spent at the Walker's Point Estate, known as the Bush Compound. Set on the southern coast of Maine, the vibrant town is also known for beautiful galleries, cute bed and breakfasts, schooner attractions, and a seafood-galore of restaurants. The beachgoers head to the Gooch's Beach, the Arundel Beach, or the Colony Beach. One must also check out the Goat Island Lighthouse, stroll along the atmospheric Ocean Avenue, and visit the sea-side beauty of St. Ann's Episcopal Church. 


West Quoddy Head Light in Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec, Maine
West Quoddy Head Light in Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec, Maine. 

Set on the border with Canada in the surroundings of true wilderness, Lubec feels like the edge of the earth as the acclaimed easternmost point in the United States. Known as one of Maine's most affordable coastal towns, the remote locale is a must-visit for scenic views and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Lubec brims with authenticity in the moored lobster boats, the bay, and the picturesque Quoddy Head Lighthouse, while the stunning coastal trails combine the sea-mist with the briny air of the forest. The beaches come with the traditional water fun, along with treasure-hunting for the strewn sea glass and spotting Atlantic puffins. The small dockside eateries in-town offer atmospheric dining in the fog at sunset and drinks as the night descends. 


Fishing boats docked in Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Maine
Fishing boats docked in Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Maine. 

Living up to its name, which translates from the native Algonquin Indians' language as the "beautiful place by the sea," the town is known for spectacular rocky cliffs and miles of sandy beaches. Founded in 1980 within a short drive from Boston, it packs big guns in every department for the best getaway, including beautiful architecture and excellent art studios. The beaches lined with accommodations include the Ogunquit Beach, the Footbridge Beach, and the Moody Beach. Hikers find their respite on the Marginal Way's winding path from the downtown to the Perkins Cove, while the foodies indulge in the locally-caught fresh seafood and ice cream at Barnacle Billy's. Families with kids must check out the Wonder Mountain Fun Park for some wholesome time. 


Rockport Harbor, Maine
Rockport Harbor, Maine. 

One of the most scenic towns in the northeast, Rockport is a short drive southwest of the state's capital of Augusta. The town, with breathtaking scenery of schooners and the tranquility-bobbing fishing boats, has been attracting many artists and other creative minds over centuries to comprise a proper art colony. The hidden gem in Maine's mid-coast region also has the best crowd-less beaches. Set halfway between Bar Harbor and Kennebunkport, Rockport is perched on the Penobscot Bay for unforgettable sunset views and dinner cruises aboard a local schooner. Aside from hitting the hiking trails along the coast, there's kayaking to see the Indian Island Lighthouse and the lovely Owl's Head Lighthouse. One must stop by the local artisan shops along the shores, with many local eateries in between, to indulge in some freshly-caught seafood.

Stonington-Deer Isle

Harbor at Stonington, Maine, with a red lobster boat in the foreground.
Harbor at Stonington, Maine, with a red lobster boat in the foreground.

Stonington is a proud Down East tiny town on the spectacular granite Deer Isle, set miles from Route 1 and Down-east Maine's extensive coastline for the best-unspoiled environment. It is also one of the highest lobster-producing harbors in Maine, with over 300 boats perched, ready to depart for prey. The scenic drive to the wildly beautiful yet grounded and homey town begins along the winding backcountry roads with the impressive Deer Isle Bridge towers looming in the view. The thin causeway over the water opens up a few miles before the town, where adventures and drama continue. Aside from lobstering, the Deer Isle is known for granite that is in high demand from sculptors and architects across the country. The incredible wilderness and endless miles of marvelous sea views surround the town-full of popular galleries and great restaurants. Cute mail boat rides offer a different perspective of the townscape from the Isle au Haut. 

These towns offer the best scenery in the state for photographers, view-chasers, and anyone wishing to get a respite from the city. The homely atmosphere encased in the true wilderness will awe even the most-weathered travelers. 

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