Encounter the HIstory and Beauty of Casco Bay by Kayak
Sundays, 8:30 AM or by request, 6-7 hours
Our Lighthouse & Fort Tour is a chance to sea kayak to some of the most historically fascinating and scenic landmarks in the Portland region. Unlike our other trips, we limit this trip to 6 or fewer people and we require that all participants have tried sea kayaking at least once before.
You'll spend the day island-hopping through the rugged islands of Casco Bay. Along the way you'll visit several 19th century forts, paddle past lighthouses and feel the swell of the open ocean underneath your kayak. Among the lighthouses and forts you might visit are Spring Point Light, Fort Preble, Portland Head Light, Fort Scammel, Ram Island Light, Bug Light and Fort Gorges.
You'll also have the chance to hone your paddling skills, learn about the natural history of the area, visit islands on the Maine Island Trail and spot wildlife like seals, osprey and eiders. You'll see many sides of Casco Bay, including the bustling working waterfront of Portland harbor, the cliff-lined outer islands exposed to the open ocean and the more protected coves lined with beaches.
This trip is designed for paddlers with a range of skill levels and the group will take many breaks and stops along the way. However, the trip does involve a very full and active day, so we ask that first-time kayakers or anyone who has difficulty with prolonged physical activity choose one of our shorter trips instead. This trip typically starts in a different location than our main site (due to a one-way route), so you will be transported by van to the launching site at the start of the trip. The cost of this trip includes a delicious picnic lunch, with a vegetarian option.
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 trips
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.
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?
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.
Anything else you’d like to have with you (camera, snack, gloves, etc). We’ll provide a dry bag.
Lunch (for the Full-Day Trip only)
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.
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 guided day trips. The discount is $50 for multi-day trips. Please keep in mind that your kayak should be a seaworthy boat (at least 14 feet long with bulkheads).
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. Let us know if you have a preference. Many people prefer tandem kayaks 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! 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.