GUIDED SEA KAYAK TRIPS
Our tours are led by licensed Maine Guides who are passionate about sharing their love of sea kayaking and their knowledge of the history and ecology of the Maine coast. Scroll down this page for a complete list of our trips and FAQs.
WHERE WE PADDLE ~ Most of our tours depart from the East End Beach, an ideal launch site for a paddle into the beautiful islands of Casco Bay or along the waterfront of Portland harbor. The hundreds of islands in the bay offer endless possibilities for exploration.
OUR KAYAKS ~ We have a mix of solo & tandem (two-person) sea kayaks, but we often use tandems for our shorter trips because they are faster, more stable, more spacious and easier for novice paddlers to use. Let us know if you prefer a solo kayak.
SUNSET Sea Kayak Tour
Every evening, 2 hours, departs roughly two hours before sunset
The hour just before sunset is the best time to be paddling on the waters of Casco Bay. The sky tends to explode with color and the seas often become glassy and calm. This trip involves a leisurely paddle just far enough along the waterfront or into the islands to enjoy a panoramic view of the sun setting over the city as we paddle back to the East End Beach. This two-hour tour is designed for paddlers of all experience levels -- including first-time kayakers.
$40 per adult, $35 for ages 10-16
9:00 to 1:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays & Saturdays
1:30-5:30 on Saturdays
This trip offers an island-hopping adventure in the archipelago of gorgeous islands that lie along the edge of Casco Bay. This has long been our most popular trip. The many islands create endless options, so your exact route will depend on the weather conditions and tide cycles. On some days we take a one-way route that allow us to venture further into the islands and keep the wind at our backs as much as possible. You'll look out for wildlife like seals, eider ducks, herons and osprey and you'll enjoy views of some of the bay's most fascinating landmarks, including lighthouses and historic forts. Halfway through the trip you'll stop at an island for a break. Your guide will provide a snack (fresh fruit and cookies) and you are welcome to bring a picnic lunch.
$65 per person, $55 for kids 12-16
FORT GORGES Sea Kayak Tour
9:30 to 12:30 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays
Fort Gorges, a Civil War-era granite fort surrounded by water, is one of the most fascinating spots in Casco Bay, and it's only accessible by small boat. This three-hour trip is the best way to combine the experience of sea kayaking on the Maine coast with exploring one of the region's most interesting historic landmarks. We'll start off with a paddle into Portland harbor and then make the crossing out to Hog Island, where we'll land on a beach and explore the elegant granite halls, mysterious passageways and towering ramparts of Fort Gorges. Make sure you check out the gorgeous view of the Portland skyline from the rooftop! Your knowledgeable guide will tell anyone who's interested about the Fort's storied history, and you'll have time to explore on your own as well. You are welcome to bring a snack or lunch if you'd like to have a brief picnic at the fort.
$52 per person, $42 for kids 10-16
FAMILY Sea kayak Tour
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, Fridays or by request
The slower pace of this tour is perfect for families with younger children. We'll take it easy, leaving plenty of time for tidepool exploration, kayak skill-building, and paddling fun. Only children 7 and older can paddle with Portland Paddle - exceptions might be made for mature 6-year-olds on the family tour. All children younger than 12 must paddle in a tandem kayak with an adult.
$40 per adult, $35 per child age 7 - 16.
Every Friday evening (departure time varies with sunset; click the button below to view time slots)
The silence and darkness that envelopes Casco Bay at night can be incredibly peaceful. But there's also plenty to look at: The stars overhead, the sparkling bioluminescence in the waters below and the flickering lights of the Portland skyline. We'll hit the water in time to watch the sun set as we paddle towards the islands and then we'll glide through dark waters on our way back to the mainland, keeping track of each other with the help of glowsticks dangling from our lifejackets.
$45 per person, $35 for kids 12-17
Sundays at 8:30 AM or by request, 6-7 hours
This is the trip for anyone who wants to get a taste of the open seas and explore some of the more rugged and less frequented areas of Casco Bay and beyond. We’ll island-hop all day, stopping at least once for a picnic. Every other Sunday we head to a different destination. This trip is for people with some sea kayaking experience. We will meet at the East End Beach at 8:30 am for all trips. We will provide transportation to other locations if that is required for the trip. $96 per person.
2016 Full-Day Trip Schedule*
June 12 -- Richmond Island from Kettle Cove
June 26 --Whaleboat Island
July 10 -- Circumnavigating Peaks Island
July 24 -- Wood Island, Biddeford Pool
August 7 -- The Basin to Malaga Island
August 21 --Bangs Island
September 4 -- Richmond Island from Kettle Cove
* Trip destination may change based on conditions.
PRIVATE GUIDED KAYAK TRIPS
We are happy to arrange private guided trips if the trips listed above don't fit with your schedule or interests. Give us a call and let us know what you're looking for and we'll do our best to make it happen.
CUSTOMIZED GROUP PADDLES
Looking for a fun and exciting activity for your group? Visit our group events page to learn more about Portland Paddle's customized kayaking experiences for wedding parties, corporate groups, big families, schools, camps and other sorts of large groups. Give us a call to set up a paddling adventure that's just right for your party.
- Kids under 18 receive $10 off Fort Gorges Trips and Half-Day Trips, and $5 off Sunset Tours (if they paddle with an adult in a tandem kayak)
- College Students (with ID) receive 10% off guided trips. Enter the discount code "STUDENT" when booking online. (Students must book separately from non-students in a group).
- Residents of the East End ( with proof of address east of Franklin Arterial) receive 10% off any guided trip. Enter the discount code "EASTEND" when booking online.
- Veterans receive 10% off any guided trip. Enter the discount code "VETERAN" when booking online.
- Using your own sea kayak? Get $15 off the usual rate by entering the code "MYBOAT" when booking online.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where do the tours start and when should I arrive?
All of our tours begin at the East End Beach unless we state otherwise. Please arrive 10 minutes before your tour is scheduled to begin, and give yourself extra time if you need to park.
Q: What's the parking situation?
There is free all-day parking in the lot halfway up the hill on Cutter Street, as well as on most streets in the residential neighborhoods nearby. Most of the spaces right next to the beach are limited to 5 minutes or two hours.
Q: What should I bring?
- Water bottle
- Footwear that you don’t mind getting wet (watershoes or old sneakers work well, and sandals or Crocs are okay too).
- Extra layer to keep you warm. It’s often cooler on the water than on land, so it’s smart to have a fleece or light jacket even on sweltering hot days. It’s also best to wear synthetic materials (not cotton) that will keep you warm even when wet.
- Sun protection.
- Anything else you’d like to have with you (camera, snack, gloves, etc). We’ll provide a dry bag.
Q: Where will we go on our tour?
Your guide will choose a route for your trip based on the group and the weather conditions, though we always try to minimize paddling into strong wind and currents. Every tour is slightly different. There are dozens of beautiful islands to explore within a short paddle of our location, and it's also fun to paddle through the working waterfront of Portland Harbor.
Q: How fast do you paddle? Will I be able to keep up? Will I get bored moving too slowly?
A: Our pace depends on the group, but we generally take our time. We almost always have plenty of time to get where we're going, so there's no need to rush. We'll keep things moving, but we won't leave anyone behind.
Q: How many people go on your tours?
We prefer fairly small groups, so we usually have between 3 and 9 people. We allow slightly bigger groups for some of our special trips, such as our Acoustic Paddle tour. State law requires that there is one guide for every twelve paddlers.
Q: Can I bring my own kayak?
Absolutely. Just let us know ahead of time and have your boat ready to go on the beach before the tour starts. You can receive $15 off the cost of the trip if you enter the code "MYBOAT" when booking online. The discount is $50 for multi-day trips. Please keep in mind that your kayak should be a sea worthy boat.
Q: What is your cancellation policy?
We understand that your plans may change and that you may need to cancel your reservation. As long as you give us 48 hours advance notice, we will offer a full refund on any amount that you have paid (with the exception of multi-day trips and private group trips, which must be canceled 14 days in advance for a full refund). If you need to cancel within 48 hours of our reservation we generally cannot offer any refund, though we will try to reschedule your booking for another day.
Q: When do you cancel tours for weather?
You can receive a full refund if we cancel a trip due to weather. We usually do not cancel tours due to overcast skies or scattered, light showers (the seas are often especially calm and pleasant on overcast days), but we do cancel trips for steady rain, strong winds and thunderstorms. If you have reserved a tour, we will call you if we are canceling the trip due to weather and give you a choice of either rescheduling or receiving a full refund.
Q: Do you use tandem (two-person) or solo kayaks on your trips? Will I have a choice?
We have both tandem and solo kayaks, but most people on our shorter trips use tandems because they are faster, more comfortable and more spacious. Plus, if you get tired, your partner can pick up the slack! If you prefer a solo kayak let us know as soon as possible and we will reserve one for you. Ultimately, your guide will make the final call on which boat is best for you depending on your skill level, the weather conditions and your body size. If you are joining a tour on your own, you will either be given a solo kayak or paired up with another person in the group.
Q: What brand or style of kayaks do you use?
We have a diverse mix of sea kayaks made by Necky, Current Designs and Wilderness Systems. All of our kayaks have rudders or skegs. We have kayaks for all skill levels and most body sizes. Most of our boats are rotomolded (plastic) and a few are fiberglass. Let us know if you have a boat preference; it's likely we can assign you the boat you'd like to use.
Q: Do I need to tip my guide?
No, only if you want to and feel that it's deserved. Tips are never expected, but always very much appreciated.
TRIP PLANNING SERVICES
Want to plan an overnight kayaking trip? Is there a certain watery part of Maine that you’d like to explore? Maybe we can help make it happen. We offer trip planning services that set you up with all the local knowledge and resources you’ll need to explore the Maine coast on your own. We’ll help anyone from expert kayakers planning to embark on the Maine Island Trail to groups of kids looking to have some fun in the water. We’re also happy to help you connect with other reputable guides and outfitters in other parts of the state. Give us a call.
We understand that you may need to cancel your reservation. As long as you give us 48 hours advance notice, we will offer a full refund on any amount that you have paid (with the exception of multi-day trips and private group trips, which must be canceled 14 days in advance for a full refund). If you need to cancel within 48 hours of a reservation we generally cannot offer any refund, though it may be possible to reschedule your booking for another day. Please do not make a reservation if you think it's likely you will need to cancel; we need your help minimizing cancellations as much as possible.
CANCELLING DUE TO WEATHER: You will have the option of receiving a full refund if your trip is canceled due to weather conditions. We usually do not cancel tours due to overcast skies or scattered showers (the seas are often especially calm and pleasant during light rain), but we do cancel when winds are too strong, when rain is steady or when thunderstorms appear likely. We will call you if we cancel your trip and we will give you a choice between rescheduling or receiving a full refund.