Guide to the Best Kayaking in Bar Harbor, Maine, 2024

kayaking in beautiful Acadia National Park

photo credit: Kristy Wiggins

Bar Harbor is the gateway to Acadia National Park, a paradise of natural beauty. Most guests in Bar Harbor mainly visit to see Acadia, although downtown Bar Harbor offers many activities, dining, and shopping experiences. In particular, you’ll want to check out kayaking in Bar Harbor, Maine, to enhance your visit, as it is one of the best ways to see scenic views of Acadia. 

Decades ago, the Rockefeller family donated their private land to the national park system for others to enjoy. What came of that donation is one of the most beautiful places in New England and the United States. 

Acadia is located on Mount Desert Island, with the town of Bar Harbor as the largest community for visitors and residents. The town is not only the entrance to the park but also a popular destination for most guests. As most tours leave town, you’ll find many sea kayaking tours in Bar Harbor. 

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kayaking in Bar Harbor, Maine is a wonderful way to see the island

Best Kayaking in Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor’s location on the coast of Maine offers ample opportunities for a kayaking enthusiast to explore the Atlantic. Kayaking is the perfect way to take in mother nature. You can kayak independently or join a guided tour. Pay attention to each company’s directions for their parking area. Also, tour guides may shift the route due to low tides, strong winds, and weather conditions. 

Due to the popularity of these tours, I would book in advance.

Maine State Sea Kayak

With decades of experience, Maine State Sea Kayak specializes in organized tours of Mount Desert Island. Their guides are experienced and dedicated to respecting mother nature while providing a memorable experience. in case you are confused, the company used to be called national park sea kayak tour.

kayak Acadia

They offer two tours- Aqua Safari and Acadia Youth Kayaking and Oyster. The Aqua Safari tour runs roughly four hours to ensure you maximize your experience. Since we primarily travel with our three kids, I love the option for an outing geared toward kids. Sometimes, they also offer adult-only sunset tours, so check the website for availability. 

Their tours take you to Western Bay, Blue Hill Bay, and Somes Sound just north of Northeast Harbor. 

Coastal Kayaking Tours

Like the other companies, Coastal Kayaking Tours has decades of experience and offers variations of tours. Their options are expansive, so everyone is sure to find the best match. For instance, you can choose between tours that range from two and a half hours to a more extended period of four hours. 

Acadia at sunset

photo credit: Kristy Wiggins

You can choose tours geared towards older kids and adults, or if traveling with younger kids, they offer excursions geared towards families. This would be perfect for my three kids. Lastly, there are sunset outings too. 

Coastal Kayaking Tours prides itself on the frequent wildlife sightings on their tours. If you want to see harbor seals, bald eagles, and other wildlife, this tour is for you!
The route includes scenic views of the Frenchman Bay and Porcupine Islands. Tours are offered from mid-May to mid-October, so book in advance to ensure availability. They also organize hikes or private sea kayak excursions if that interests you.

kayak around Frenchman Bay

Acadia Sea Kayaking Adventures

Acadia Sea Kayaking is another excellent choice for your next trip. Their trips max out at eight people total, which makes them unique. Also, the small groups give you more one-on-one time with a highly experienced guide. 

They offer several different tours during the day and a Sunset Harbor option. For two hours, you can soak in the golden hour along the coast and enjoy Acadia’s gorgeous views. Or you can be adventurous and choose the Acadia After Dark voyage, a three-hour trip along the coast of Frenchman Bay in Bar Harbor.

Maine is a beautiful state to visit in the summer

If you want a day excursion, consider the Dirigo Tour. For families, there’s the Too Easy Tour, modified to fit the needs of all ages and skill levels.

One thing I like about this company is the wide range of guest opportunities. 

Acadia Paddle

If you rent a property, you could opt for delivery of sea kayaks through Acadia Paddle. Your rental includes the necessary equipment, including the boat, paddle, and life jacket. They deliver and pick up. The rental periods run for three days or a week. This company is geared towards visitors exploring independently instead of organized activities.  

As a side note, you can also rent trendy paddle boards. Remember that the paddle boards may sell out quickly, so plan. 

paddle boarding is a fun way to experience Acadia

photo credit: Kristy Wiggins

Acadia Outfitters

Acadia Outfitters is another rental idea for those staying in the Bar Harbor area. This company differs from Acadia Paddle because they offer individual kayak rentals that you can rent for one or several days. They also rent single or tandem kayaks but no paddle boards. 

They also have guided tours if you need help navigating the area. Their trips run for about 2.5 hours, and they offer sunset options. 

Lastly, you can rent e-bikes to explore the carriage roads in the park. 

Bike through Acadia on the carriage roads

FAQ: Visiting Bar Harbor

🛶Where should I stay?

Luxury Option: Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina

Moderate Option: Hampton by Hilton

Budget: Hanscom’s Motel & Cottages 

You can also rent a vacation cottage on Mount Dessert Island. 

🛶Can you kayak in Acadia?

The coastline is pretty rugged, so it isn’t easy to start in Acadia. Many tours leave Bar Harbor or Southwest Harbor and head to the national park.

🛶Can you kayak in Jordan Pond?

Yes, you can kayak Jordan Pond. Use the launch site at the Jordan Pond North parking lot. This is ideal for guests renting their kayak from Acadia Outfitters or Acadia Paddle.

Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

🛶Where else can you paddle in Acadia?

You can also boat on Long Pond and Eagle Lake in the park. 

🛶Can you kayak in the Atlantic Ocean? Where are good places to launch a kayak?

Yes! Take advantage of the opportunity to explore the coast of Mount Desert Island on the open waters. 

🛶Where are good places to launch a kayak?

Besides Jordan Pond, you can go to a public boat launch at Seal Cove on the west side of Mount Desert Island. 

🛶Do you need a license to kayak in Maine?


🛶Do you have to have a life jacket?

Guests under the age of 10 must wear a life jacket. For guests over 10, you must carry one on your kayak. Wearing a life jacket on the water is always the best practice. 

visit Maine in the summer for a beautiful vacation

In conclusion: Guide to the Best Kayaking in Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor and Acadia should be on everyone’s bucket list. Exploring the beauty of Maine on the open water is a one-of-a-kind experience and the perfect destination for a kayaking trip. My guide to the best kayaking in Bar Harbor, Maine, helps you plan your next great adventure!

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