If the Great North Woods are Maine’s heart, then the coast is its shimmering soul. With over 5,000 miles of coastline and over 3,000 islands, Maine’s coast is the setting for a diverse array of people, cultures, businesses, and wildlife. This summer explore the state’s craggy coastline, pine-tree-covered islands, and the people and communities that inhabit them. Below are a few suggestions of great companies offering an unforgettable coastal Maine experience.

Balmy Days Cruises offers a variety of nautical adventures throughout the Boothbay Region. The company offers sailing, mackerel fishing, and harbor and lighthouse tours. The main event however, is the trip they offer to Monhegan Island. The island has a vibrant artist community and a number of galleries. Just outside of town explore Monhegan’s natural beauty and endless ocean views hiking along the island’s 17 miles of trails.

After a day on the water, enjoy a night of respite at the Point Lookout cabins, tucked into a hillside overlooking Penobscot Bay. The cabins have kitchenettes, spacious bathrooms with walk-in showers, and wood siding throughout the interiors. On the property are a fitness center, tennis, racquetball, and squash courts. The property also has a fairly extensive network of hiking trails.

Three miles off the coast of Portland is Peaks Island. This 720-acre island is just a short ferry ride from the city and definitely worth a visit. Explore the island either on foot or in a golf cart with Peaks Island Tours. The tour guides will show you around the quaint village community with Victorian mansions and master gardens as well as Battery Steele, a World War ll fort on the island.

When you get to the mainland after visiting Peaks island, take the short walk over toDimillo’s on the Water. As the name suggests, the restaurant is housed in a boat that sits on the end of a pier in Portland harbor. The restaurant offers incredibly fresh seafood, much of it caught in Casco Bay. 

Ever wonder what it’s like to haul up a lobster trap? If so,Finestkind Cruises based out of picturesque Perkins Cove in the Beaches region has a trip for you. Book a cruise on the company’s lobster boat, Finestkind l, to learn about Maine’s lobster fishing industry and get the opportunity to haul up a trap. The Finestkind lll takes guests on scenic cruises along York’s coastline, offering views of the rocky shoreline, beautiful waterfront homes, and Nubble Lighthouse.

What do George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Tom Brady all have in common? When a seafood craving hits, they all head to Barnacle Billy’s in Ogunquit. The low-key establishment serves unbeatably fresh seafood and their notorious rum punch.

Experience Downeast Maine and Acadia from the sea. Downeast Windjammer Cruisesoffers daily sails aboard the Schooner Margaret Todd 151’ or Bailey Louise Tood 91’. Take an afternoon cruise for stronger winds and a more exhilarating sail. Or take the sunset sail for some live music in a romantic setting.

Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. takes guests out into the Atlantic to catch a glimpse of the world’s largest mammals. Along with other wildlife guests will have the chance to view Humpback, Fin, and Minke whales.

When you are back on shore, treat yourself to a night of relaxation at the Bar Harbor Inn. The Inn is a beautiful New England, style structure with sprawling lawns and gardens that stretch out to the edge of Frenchman Bay. The inn is located in the heart of downtown Bar Harbor, so all the local shops and restaurants are easily within reach.

The days are long, the sun is shining, and the water is about as warm as it gets up here. Time to venture out and explore Maine’s coast and islands.