Acadia: Kayaking West Side MDI

Acadia: Kayaking West Side MDI

We waffled a bit on whether or not to go kayaking, but only because there’s so much to do in Acadia.  We decided to in the end because we wanted more practice as we plan to kayak at many other parks.  It gave our legs a rest from hiking, provided great views, and was our closest look at some wildlife.  We learned a lot about the park through this experience.  None of the water surrounding Acadia is actually part of the park – that’s why you see lobster traps everywhere.  There are some kayak companies that will visit the Porcupine Islands on the eastern side of MDI, near Bar Harbor.  We chose to go kayaking on the Western Side of MDI.

Since we didn’t have kayaks or know the area, we chose to do a guided trip through National Park Sea Kayak Tours. They got great reviews, and had been friendly when we called with a few questions.  We scheduled our trip about a week in advance, and were able to get the last 2 spots for an 8 a.m. trip on Saturday morning.  They have two locations, one in downtown Bar Harbor and one in the Seawall area.

We got to the Bar Harbor location, loaded our gear, and we all crammed into a van to be shuttled to the west side of Mount Desert Island. It was about a 25 minute journey, not too long, but long enough when you feel like you’re in a sardine can. Our journey started at Barlett’s Landing (see map below), where K and I got our tandem kayak. Our group consisted mostly of very energetic retirees, which was kind of refreshing. When we get older, I hope that we’re still able to do that kind of thing.  They didn’t have any problem keeping up with the guide. And we tried our best to keep up with them!

Acadia: National Park Kayak Tours in Bar Harbor
The ready room at National Park Kayak Tours in Bar Harbor

Once we were on the water, our guide pointed out some harbor seals that were on a rocky outcropping.  They were a good distance away, but they were easy to spot.  We passed the rocks, and headed north, past Bartlett’s Island on the left.  We kept paddling, entranced by the great views.  The weather was perfect too – almost no wind, but 70s and sunny.  We dressed in layers, since our trip started first thing in the morning.

Our next destination was Black Island, which we passed on our left.  We saw bald eagles flying around the island.  The guide pointed out that they were bringing food to the eaglets in their nest.  Our entire party stopped to observe them for a few minutes.  Shortly after, we saw more harbor seals on another nearby rock outcropping.  As we continued, we kept our distance so as not to disturb the seals.

K kayaking off the west coast of Mount Desert Island
K kayaking off the west coast of Mount Desert Island

Every trip with the outfitter has a stop in the middle, where we put the kayaks in and you can take a bathroom break (which is much appreciated, and one reason we chose this outfitter).  Our next stop was at Indian Point, where our break was going to be.  On the way, we saw some more harbor seals on rocky outcroppings.  Occasionally as we paddled, we saw harbor seals pop their heads out of the water.  As we approached, they disappeared.

One harbor seal was a bit more curious.  It started swimming directly beside and underneath our kayak!  We stopped paddling, and for about 5-10 minutes just watched as the seal swam all around us.  He swam away, only to resurface in a different spot after a few moments.  It seemed like he was playing a game with us.  When I finally grabbed my phone to take a picture… he swam off.  But it was a real treat to see the harbor seal up close, and our guide said it was rare.  It’s a great memory and made our day (especially since the seal was around our kayak, not really anyone else’s).

Acadia: Break point at Indian Point
Taking a break at Indian Point

Eventually, we had to proceed to Indian Point for our short break.  It was a rocky, seaweed strewn beach.  Several people went further back to use the “bathroom” (i.e. rocks), but the guide suggested that people not go into the tree area because it could damage the ecosystem.  So we looked awkwardly out at the ocean to give others their privacy.  Afterward, we had a short paddle to our takeout point at Clark Cove.

This kayaking trip exceeded both our expectations.  It wasn’t exhausting, we saw a ton of wildlife, and the weather was nice too.  Altogether, we had paddled 6.5 miles.  We got back in the van, and traveled back to Bar Harbor. Predictably, we were starving, so we headed to Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast for brunch.

Places:
National Park Sea Kayak Tours | 39 Cottage St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast15 Cottage St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Bartlett’s Landing | 44.343060, -68.416346
Black Island | 44.382032, -68.400618
Indian Point | 44.392641, -68.373172
Clark Cove | 44.403502, -68.351433

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