Sipping our blueberry-flavored cocktails after settling in at the wooden bar inside The Barn Café shortly after arriving in Port Clyde, Maine, we both smiled and toasted to what we already knew would be a fantastic trip. Taking a moment to look around, I realized that although it was August 2022 at the time, it might as well have been 1922. Old fishing buoys and artifacts from the lobstering trade hung from the weathered walls, and fog so dense you could feel it’s briny embrace and barely see the lobster boats moored in the harbor crept inside through the open barn doors. The sense of peace and serenity that we felt on this timeless evening in Port Clyde, Maine, is the perfect example of why this small lobstering town is truly a gem of the Maine Coast. Complete with all the seafood, coastal scenery, and friendly charm that has drawn people to Maine for centuries but lacking the crowds and chaos of more popular coastal destinations, after spending a visit to Port Clyde exploring like a local, you’ll fall in love with this place so much that you just might want to become one.

Marshall Point Light | Credit: Joey Priola

Outdoor Activities

With its pristine coastal locale, it’s not surprising that outdoor activities in Port Clyde center on the sea. The sheltered coves and islands near Port Clyde are perfect for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, and if you don’t have your own equipment, rentals as well as tours are available from the highly rated Port Clyde Kayak. Boat tours are also available from Monhegan Boat Line, and options include a puffin or lighthouse cruise.  If you want to really get away from it all, Monhegan Boat Line also ferries passengers out to mystical Monhegan Island, which floats in the Atlantic like an island lost in time (even more so than Port Clyde) over 10 miles from the mainland. While Monhegan can be visited as a day trip from Port Clyde, staying for a few days is recommended to truly appreciate the remoteness and charm of the island and to savor its coastal hiking trails.

Back on the mainland, additional hiking trails can be found close to town at Clark Island, the Fort Point Trail, and Meadow Brook Preserve.

No trip to Coastal Maine would be complete without visiting a lighthouse, and one of the most unique and picturesque lighthouses in all of New England is located just one mile from the Port Clyde town center. Marshall Point Lighthouse is not a large lighthouse, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in beauty. Connected to the mainland by a pretty walkway, the lighthouse is an excellent place for photography, especially at sunrise and sunset. Even though this lighthouse attained a certain degree of popularity after appearing in Forrest Gump, it still doesn’t get nearly as crowded as the more popular Maine lighthouses, and I was able to enjoy and photograph a sunrise at the lighthouse on a Saturday in August in complete solitude.

A cormorant. | Credit: Joey Priola

Eat & Drink

What better way to cap off a thrilling day of coastal exploration than a classic Maine lobster dinner? One of the joys of Port Clyde is that for a town of its small size, it has everything that you could ask for as far as dining. Right next to the town dock, the Dip Net has a diverse menu from land and sea and a beautiful patio that overlooks the harbor. Adjacent to the Dip Net, the Port Clyde General Store is your best bet for getting groceries in town should the need arise, and they also serve a wide variety of sandwiches (including lobster rolls) as well as tasty breakfasts (why not start your day with a delicious lobster benedict?). Looking for a tasty latte to sip while you stroll the docks while keeping an eye out for hunting seabirds such as cormorants, osprey, and eagles? Head to Squid Ink Coffee, which is right on the water and serves up specialty coffee drinks and desserts. For an even greater variety of tasty treats, like ice cream and fresh-baked whoopie pies and donuts, Village Ice Cream & Port Clyde Bakery has you covered. Try their blueberry ice cream and enjoy a classic way to cool off on a warm Maine summer day. Additional dining options can be found by taking a short drive out of town, and include the Black Harpoon (a local’s favorite), the Happy Clam (delicious seafood at incredibly affordable prices), and McLoons Lobster Shack (one of the most renowned lobster shacks in Maine). To cap off an exhilarating day of exploration, try one of the specialty cocktails at The Barn Café. With a rustic interior and a view towards the harbor, The Barn is the place where locals and tourists alike come to relax, unwind, and swap stories of the sea. You might just end up rubbing shoulders with the lobsterman that brought in your lobster dinner here.

Credit: Joey Priola

Places to Stay

There aren’t many options for lodging in the town of Port Clyde, but the ones that are available are of high quality. Seaside Inn and Ocean House are excellent options right in town, with pet-friendly rooms. Several vacation rental properties in Port Clyde and nearby Tenants Harbor are also available for rent through Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine. Linda is the granddaughter of LL Bean, and she’s played an interesting role in shaping the town of Port Clyde into what it is today.