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Maine Water Attractions Draw Nature Lovers, Vacationers

Water activities like fishing, swimming, kayaking and whitewater rafting make Maine a top destination for outdoor adventurers.

By John Fuller on December 9, 2014

Dive into water recreation in Maine, where 32,000 miles of rivers and streams and 6,000 lakes and ponds offer opportunities to enjoy activities like fishing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and sailing. The state also includes 3,500 miles of coastline, providing easy access to the Atlantic Ocean.
Aroostook and The Highlands Regions
Stretching across Aroostook and Piscataquis counties, the 92-mile Allagash Wilderness Waterway has been featured as a destination on National Geographic’s list of America’s Best Adventures. The state-protected waterway, which includes lakes, ponds and the Allagash River, is a top spot for canoeing.
Also passing through Aroostook County is the 100-mile Aroostook River, a tributary of the St. John River that is primarily known as a fishing destination. Anglers will find brook trout in the river, especially from mid-May through June.
Moosehead Lake, the state’s largest lake, is another great place for fishing. Bordered by Greenville to the south and Rockwood to the northwest, Moosehead features lake trout, brook trout and landlocked salmon. While the springtime is considered the best time to cast a line in Moosehead, ice fishing is popular from January through the end of March. The lake also offers cruises aboard the 100-year-old steamship Katahdin, a National Historic Landmark that has recently been rebuilt and restored. Presque Isle’s Echo Lake, part of Aroostook State Park, is another favorite brook trout fishing destination.
Kennebec, Lakes and Mountains, Down East and Mid-Coast Regions
When it comes to whitewater rafting, the Dead, Kennebec and Penobscot rivers don’t disappoint. While the Dead River has scheduled high and low water releases, the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers release daily during the state’s whitewater rafting season, which lasts from May through October.
Situated near the town of Rangeley, the Rangeley Lakes Region includes six major lakes – Rangeley, Mooselookmeguntic, Cupsuptic, the Upper and Lower Richardsons, and Aziscohos – and hundreds of smaller lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. In addition to swimming, fishing and canoeing, Rangeley Region Lake Cruises and Mothership Kayak Excursions are available.
Central Maine also offers easy access to the Old Sow Whirlpool, which is the largest natural whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere. Located on the U.S-Canada border near Moose Island in Eastport, Old Sow is reported to be most active about three hours before high tide. While the whirlpool can be viewed from land, Downeast Charter Boat Tours depart from the Lubec Town Marina and take groups through the Old Sow.
Acadia National Park, one of the state’s most popular attractions, will celebrate 100 years in 2016. Located near Bar Harbor, the park was voted America’s Favorite Place by Good Morning America viewers in July 2014. Acadia’s more than 2 million annual visitors enjoy cobblestone beaches and boating, swimming and fishing.
Nearby, Maine’s windjammer fleet – the largest fleet of traditional sailing schooners in North America – offers cruises out of the Rockland and Camden ports. Further inland, the Belgrade Lakes Region features a chain of seven lakes near Augusta.
The Beaches, Portland and Casco Bay Regions
The Beaches Region includes two of the state’s most popular water parks, Funtown Splashtown USA and Aquaboggan, both of which are in Saco. Featuring 20 water slides and pools, Funtown Splashtown USA is known for Mammoth and Tornado, Maine’s largest slides. Aquaboggan, the state’s original water park, has a tube run, a 750,000-gallon wave pool and bumper boats.
Less than 5 miles away, the family-friendly Old Orchard Beach is one of Maine’s top vacation destinations. The area includes 7 miles of beaches and the 500-foot Old Orchard Beach Pier, a popular nightlife and entertainment destination that extends over the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can also enjoy canoeing, kayaking, wind surfing, lobster boat tours, whale-watching cruises and deep-sea fishing.
Located outside of the Beaches Region, Portland features kayaking, sailing, lobster boats, ferries and cruises, and was named a top city to live in 2014 by Outdoors Magazine because of its water-friendly access and more. In nearby Freeport, LL Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Schools offer more than 100 courses, trips, and tours that feature activities like stand-up paddleboarding and fly fishing.
Read more about arts, culture and recreation in Maine.

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