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Seacoast
New Hampshire


Southern Maine Lighthouses

Portland Head lighthouse at sunset

Heading North Through Kittery,
Kennebunkport, South Portland, and Portland

Lighthouses built along southern Maine's coastline helped to guide shipping traffic between Portsmouth and Portland harbors, and for the many lobstermen and fishermen earning their living coming into these coastal harbors. There are treacherous ledges and shoals such as Boon Island that needed a lighthouse placed on it due to the many shipwrecks that occurred on this tiny desolate group of rocks, along with others on route to Portland.

 

Southern Maine Lighthouses
You Can Drive or Hike To

Note: Some of the lighthouses mentioned below that you can drive to can also be viewed from various boat tours offered, see Boat Tours below. Southern Maine is heavily populated during the summer with tourism.

Click any lighthouse image or link below to find out information about each lighthouse including historic snapshots, directions, more photos, and links for places to visit.

 

portland head lighthouse

Portland Head Light

 

 

Southern Maine Lighthouses
Best Viewed by Boat

halfway rock lighthouse

Halfway Rock Light

 

 

Places to Visit Nearby
in Maine's Southern Region
(heading north from New Hampshire seacoast)

Historic Portsmouth, New Hampshire, across the Piscataqua River which divides Maine and New Hampshire, provides various concerts, festivals, and outdoor theater acts in Prescott Park.

Close views of Whaleback Lighthouse from the Kittery, Maine side can be seen from Fort Foster, with its trails, beaches and long boardwalk.

York also has a mile-long beach called Long Sands, and another called Short Sands Beach full of specialty shops, food stops.

York’s Wild Animal Kingdom, an old style amusement park and zoo, is within walking distance of Shorts Sands Beach.

animals at York Animal Zoo kissing /

nubble lighthouse decorated for the holidays One of the most popular events is the annual "Lighting of the Nubble" during the holiday season.

The lighthouse is also lit during the “Christmas in July” lighting event in the summer.

Mount Agamenticus nearby is an easy hike to enjoy mountaintop views of the ocean and surrounding area.

In Wells, you'll find the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge, which offers a paved walkway along coastal marshland. The Wells Reserve at Laudholm offers plenty of trails for hiking over a unique coastal estuarine.

In Ogunquit, a popular scenic walkway along the rocky shoreline known as Marginal Way offers dramatic views of the area’s rocky ocean shoreline.

Kennebunkport is an affluent community with its pristine Goose Rocks Beach, up scale restaurants, and many artists’ galleries and shops.

For a photographic treat in Kennebunk, travelers enjoy a unique structure known as the Wedding Cake House.

Cape Porpoise, where you can view Goat Island (Cape Porpoise) Lighthouse from the shore, is also where you can get fresh lobster right off the boats.

Goat Island (Cape Porpoise) light at dusk

For those who want to sail around the scenic coastline of the Kennebunk area, there are two-hour sailing excursions aboard the Schooner Eleanor, the Pineapple Ketch, and others. These include wine tasting, acoustic music, and sunset sails.

Saco’s Funtown Splashtown and Aquaboggan Water Park are popular family attractions.

The Friends Of Wood Island Lighthouse (FOWIL) provide a short distance ferry service out to the island.

They also provide a narrated tour of the lighthouse and grounds. wooden walkway leads to wood island lighthouse

One of Maine’s major tourist playgrounds, for Americans and Canadians alike, Old Orchard Beach, offers plenty of beaches, camping, shops, amusement park, and nightlife.

Twin Lights Park near Cape Elizabeth lighthouse offers relaxing picnic tables, hiking trails, and ocean views. Visitors can get close up views of Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse in a residential neighborhood, and enjoy seafood at a tiny beach nearby.

Portland Head Lighthouse is located inside the 41-acre Fort Williams Park. portland lighthouse

Visitors can hike along the cliff edges, picnic, or explore the old fort. They can also explore the Museum at Portland Head Light at the Keeper’s house, and, get a good view of Ram Island Ledge Lighhouse in the distance.

In South Portland, explore Fort Preble.

breakwater out to Spring Point light From the fort, visitors can hike the stone jetty to Spring Point Lighthouse.

Bug Light (Portland Breakwater) lighthouse at Bug Light Park in South Portland allows visitors to watch lobster boats, sailing, and fishing boats coming in and out of Portland Harbor.

Portland is considered to be the art cultural center of Maine with plenty of galleries and museums, specialty restaurants, and shops along its old port waterfront district.

There are various sailing excursions leaving Portland Harbor including authentic windjammer sailing aboard restored schooners from the early 1900s.

Portland Schooner sailing Many windjammers were recently rebuilt and replicated these sailing ships.

Between Portland and Brunswick, visitors will find many roads leading from Route 1 out into the many peninsulas and some islands that make up Maine’s coastline. Along Route 1, the towns of Falmouth, Yarmouth, and Freeport offer lots of parks and preserves for those who want to explore the outdoors, and places to shop. Both Bailey Island and nearby Eagle Island are very quiet rustic places dotted with artists galleries and fishing communities. Bailey Island visitors can drive to on Route 24.

For those that what to get photographs of Halfway Rock Lighthouse, the Schooner Alert goes out to the lighthouse during the summer months.

 

Boat Tours: Southern Maine
and Portsmouth NH Harbor

Boat cruises mentioned below may offer many types of adventures. While some may offer specific lighthouse cruises along Maine's southern coast, some may pass by specific lighthouses as part of special charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, while ferrying passengers, whale watching expeditions, fishing tours and other types of excursions. Weather is also a major factor in New England, especially on sailing excursions.

Isles of Shoals Steamship Co.
Portsmouth Harbor and Isles of Shoals tours. Nubble Light and Boon Island Light in Maine are included during its Fall Extravaganza lighthouse tour.
315 Market Street,
P.O. Box 311
Portsmouth, NH 03801
(603) 431-5500
(800) 441-4620

Lighthouses: Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse (NH), White Island Light (NH), Whaleback Lighthouse, Boon Island Lighthouse, Nubble Lighthouse

 

Portsmouth Harbor Cruises
Portsmouth Harbor and Isles of Shoals tour.
64 Ceres Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801
(603) 436-8084
(800) 776-0915
phc@portsmouthharbor.com

Lighthouses: Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse (NH), White Island Light (NH), Whaleback Lighthouse

 

New England Eco Adventures
Check out these lighthouse and special tours on a fast, low to the water, Navy S.E.A.L Rigid Inflatable Boat (R.I.B) that glides over the water. They offer tours to Nubble (Cape Neddick) light, Goat Island (Cape Porpoise) light, Wood Island light, and out to Boon Island lighthouse, which is rarely visited on any other tours. They also offer a unique guided walk about tour on Goat Island lighthouse and grounds, a land/sea adventure cruise, a 1-hr speedy thrill ride along 20 miles of coastline, and a 3-hour sunset whale watching cruise, among other custom cruises.
8 Western Ave
Kennebunk, ME 04043
(207) 502-8040
matt@newenglandecoadventures.com

Lighthouses: Nubble (Cape Neddick)Lighthouse, Boon Island Lighthouse, Goat Island (Cape Porpoise) Lighthouse, and Wood Island Lighthouse

 

Cove Runner Coastline Cruises
Private intimate trips (up to 6 passengers) along the southern coast of Maine to destinations of your choice, in a smooth riding 23’ power catamaran, while enjoying seal sightings and other wildlife. Departs out of Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine.

Captain Bob Spencer
(207) 216-2844
Email: coverunner.me@gmail.com

Lighthouses: Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse (NH), White Island Light (NH), Whaleback Lighthouse (ME), Boon Island Lighthouse (ME), Nubble Lighthouse (ME)

 

Finest Kind Scenic Cruises
Provides scenic coastal and wildlife tours as part of their breakfast cruise. They also provide sailing cruises on a traditional wooden loberstering vessel used over 100 years ago and a special lobstering trip where you can see lobster traps being hauled in. There is also a Nubble Lighthouse cruise that takes you around the back of the lighthouse for some unique views.

P.O. Box 1828
Ogunquit, ME 03907
Phone: (207) 646-5227

Lighthouse: Nubble Lighthouse

 

First Chance Whalewatch
Passes by Goat Island Lighthouse while entering or leaving Cape Porpoise Harbor.
4 Western Ave, (Route 9)
Kennebunk, Maine 04043
(
207) 967 5507

Lighthouses: Goat Island Lighthouse

 

Friends Of Wood Island Lighthouse
Provides shuttle service to and from Wood Island, and they provide lighthouse tours during the summer months.
P.O. Box 26
Biddeford Pool, Maine 04006

Lighthouses: Wood Island Lighthouse

 

Portland Duck Tours
Ride these amphibious vehicles through Portland and as they pass by Portland Breakwater and Spring Point Light.
177 Commercial Street
Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 774-DUCK(3825)
Email: info@maineducks.com

Lighthouses: Spring Point Light, Portland Breakwater

 

Portland Discovery
Specific lighthouse cruises like the "Lighthouse Lover's Cruise", and "Sunset Lighthouse Cruise." They also provide a trolley tour of Portland and a lighthouse cruise on Casco Bay for Portland's lighthouses.
Long Wharf
Portland ME
(Phone: (207) 774-0808

Lighthouses: Portland Breakwater Light, Spring Point Ledge Light, Ram Island Ledge Light, Portland Head Light, Halfway Rock Light, Eagle Island

 

Lucky Catch Cruises
Lobster boat cruises that pass by the the lighthouses.
170 Commercial St.
Portland, Maine 04101
Phone: (207) 761-0941
E-Mail: info@luckycatch.com

Lighthouses: Portland Breakwater Light, Spring Point Ledge Light, Portland Head Light

 

Schooners, Windjammers, Sailing Excursions

Sailing cruises mentioned below offer many types of excursions. They may pass by various lighthouses from a distance but there are no guarantees of sightings, as wind direction and weather is always a major factor in New England. Enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife that surrounds you. Info is provided to help you decide on which unique sailing trip you'd like to experience.

Schooner Eleanor
The 55-foot Schooner Eleanor was built in Kennebunkport by Captain Rich and a crew of local craftsmen as a replica of a traditional gaff-rigged two-masted schooner that would have sailed in the 1930s. Visitors can sail in this beautifully crafted vessel in choosing either morning, midday, and evening 2-hour sails down the mouth of the Kennebunk River and along rocky coastal shores, and they provide private charters.

43 Ocean Avenue
P.O. Box 572
Kennebunkport, ME 04046
Phone: (207) 967-8809
E-mail: schoonersails@gwi.net

Lighthouse: Goat Island Light

 

The Pineapple Ketch
For those who want a more private authentic sailing experience, sail with the Pineapple Ketch. She is a restored 38’ downeaster ketch, built in 1976 with distinctive tanbark sails and a black hull, and had sailed from the Great Lakes, down the East Coast along the Caribbean and around the Florida Keys. There are morning, mid-day, and sunset 2-hour sails, private charters are available, and she can accommodate up to 14 people.

95 Ocean Avenue
Kennebunkport, ME 04046
Phone: (207) 888-2445
Emial: info@pineappleketch.com

Lighthouse: Goat Island Light

 

Deep Cove Sailing
The Halie & Matthew is one of the largest fiberglass schooners built in Maine at 115 feet in length with beautiful woodwork in the salon and cabins, operated by Captain Suzanne Driscoll. Lighthouse lovers can enjoy a 2 1/2- hour cruise along Casco Bay in Portland which includes sights of Portland Breakwater (Bug) Light, Spring Point Light, and Portland Head Light.

Berlin Mills Wharf, Portland, Maine
Phone: (207) 420-5682
Email: deepcovesailing@gmail.com

Lighthouses: Portland Breakwater (Bug) Light, Spring Point Ledge Light, Portland Head Light

 

The Portland Schooner Company
They provide two-hour windjammer cruises on Casco Bay in Portland with morning, afternoon, and sunset sails, and private charters. There are four sailing ships that have been restored to their original condition from the early 1900s and 1930s. The Bagheera won races in the 1920s and spent much time cruising the world's oceans. The Heart's Desire, built in 1925, was used as a charter vessel along the Eastern seaboard in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. The Timberwind is a large 96-foot two-masted schooner that was built in 1931 and used as a pilot vessel in meeting incoming vessels outside the harbor and guiding them to their berths. The 88-foot schooner Wendameen, was built in East Boothbay, Maine, and launched in 1912, in the golden era of fast, sleek ocean schooners. There are also special event sails from rum history and tasting tours to live music happy hour sails with local artists.

Maine State Pier, Portland, Maine 04101
Phone: (207) 766-2500
E-mail: sails@portlandschooner.com

Lighthouse: Portland Breakwater Light (Bug Light), Spring Point Ledge Light, Ram Island Ledge Light, Portland Head Light

 

Maine Sailing Adventures
For those who want an authentic sailing experience, the 74-foot Frances was built as a replica of a working coastal pilot cutter that sailed the waters of New England nearly 200 years ago. With her mast rising 80-feet above the water using only her five sails and a yawl boat for propulsion, they offer morning, afternoon, and sunset 2-hour sails. Special event sails include Wine Sails, Acoustic Sails, and unique Yoga Sails.

Maine State Pier, Portland, Maine
Phone: (207) 967-8809

Lighthouses: Portland Breakwater (Bug) Light, Spring Point Ledge Light, Portland Head Light

 

Sea Escape Cottages and Charters
Visitors can stay in nearby cottages with views of the ocean, and partake in various fishing excursions and charters from Bailey Island, including trips out to Halfway Rock Light. Sailing charters aboard the Schooner Alert, a 70-ft Maine built wooden tall-ship, include day and sunset sails, two-hour Harpswell sail, 3-hour schooner sail, four-hour sailing around the islands tour, and a six-hour cruise around Casco Bay, along with special event sails. For those who prefer the smaller more private sailing vessels, they also provide private charters aboard the Ketch Tevake, and the Friendship Sloop Gannet, built in 1903 as a Maine lobster sailing boat.

P.O. Box 7
23 Sea Escape Lane
Bailey Island, Maine 04003
Phone: (207) 833-5531 or (207) 841-9125 (cell)
E-mail: seaesc@gmail.com or tevakesailingcharters@hotmail.com

Lighthouse: Halfway Rock Light

 

New Book Just Published Summer 2023!

The Rise and Demise of the Largest Sailing Ships:
Stories of the Six and Seven-Masted
Coal Schooners of New England

book of the rise and demise of the largest sailing ships

To order a signed paperback copy:

Available from bookstores in paperback, hardcover, and as an eBook for all devices.

my ebook on apple books

In the early 1900s, New England shipbuilders constructed the world’s largest sailing ships amid social and political reforms. These giants of sail were built to carry massive quantities of coal and building supplies, and measured longer than a football field! 

Some of these vessels used Portland Harbor as a main port to drop off their massive cargoes. One ship sank in Portland Harbor from catching fire, and one captain saved his ship in a storm off Cape Elizabeth.

This book, balanced with plenty of color and vintage images, showcases the historical accounts that followed these mighty ships.

Click for larger video here.

 

 

My 300-page book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Northern New England: New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, provides human interest stories from each of the 76 lighthouses, along with the coastal attractions and tours near each beacon, and contact info to plan your special trips. You'll find over 360 images inside as well.

In the book, you'll find lots of local stories and folklore about Nubble light's ghost ship Isadore, the most daring rescue by Marcus Hanna at Cape Elizabeth Light, the murder/suicide at Wood Island Light, and the famous shipwrecks at and near Portland Head lighthouse, among many others.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and local coastal attractions

 

 

 

 

New England Lighthouses: Famous Shipwrecks, Rescues & Other Tales

This image-rich book contains over 50 stories of famous shipwrecks and rescues around New England lighthouses, and also tales of hauntings, like the story of the ghost ship Isadore near Cape Neddick Light.

There are more details in the stories of the wreck of the Annie C. Maguire, and about the Strout family at Portland Head Light. There stories of the Bohemian wreck and the famous rescue by Marcus Hanna at Cape Elizabeth Light. There are stories of an accidental tragedy and suicide, hauntings, a rescue of the keeper's daughter, and a keeper's rescue dog named Sailor at Wood Island Light. Boon Island Light has stories of hauntings and about the wreck of the Nottingham Galley that resulted in acts of cannibalism.

You'll find this book and my lighthouse tourism books published by Schiffer Books, or they can be found in many fine bookstores like Barnes and Noble.

 

 

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