October 04, 2023

An Awful, Wonderful, Final Day on the Coast of Maine

The Friday after Memorial Day weekend would be our last day in Maine.  Sigh.  The combination of Acadia National Park and so many fascinating cities and villages to explore creates an irresistible draw for me.  I really do love coastal Maine.  Of course, I understand that the residents of Maine, like those in every other state, have issues to deal with, including the lack of affordable housing in many areas.  I can remain grateful for the countless opportunities we have to explore and enjoy Maine's natural beauty and learn about its history and heritage.  Hopefully, the tourist dollars that we and other visitors spend are a true benefit to this magnificent state.

Knowing that the next day would bring a day of travel, followed by the inevitable unpacking and the loads of laundry that go along with it, we tried not to over schedule ourselves on Friday.  A leisurely day of poking around Freeport, a visit to a State Park and a late lunch at the Five Islands Lobster Company – that was the extent of the day’s itinerary.  After a slow start – it was SO hard to leave the amazing water views at our campsite – Alan and I made our way to our first stop – the wharf in Freeport.

Marinas, harbors, wharves and boat launches are familiar territory and old friends to boaters.  They’re places we understand the lay of the land and in which we feel comfortable.  (Navigating major cities with traffic and noise and parking garages with ceilings too low for our truck – not so much.)  We decided to visit the wharf in Freeport, well, just because it was there.  Freeport is a small city with a wharf appropriate to its size.  Alan and I hung out for a while, listening to local chatter and watching passengers board the ferry.

The Lilly B, in the center of the photo, is the small ferry that runs over to Bustins Island.

Ferries have always intrigued me, and I'm a happy camper whenever we have a chance to ride one.  Like National Parks, ferries seem to have their own personality and character.  From the big, hard-working ferries in the Pacific Northwest (the largest of which can carry 200 cars and 2,500 passengers) to the tiny Green River ferry in Kentucky (up to three vehicles and nowhere near 2,500 passengers), ferries of some form or another have been a critical component in moving people, vehicles and supplies from one point to another for centuries.  I was expecting to see a larger ferry in Freeport, but the Lilly B wasn’t much bigger than a small cruiser.  Even so, we enjoyed the crew’s routine preparations for the journey, and even witnessed a last minute passenger scrambling to buy a ticket before departure time.

Freeport's small harbor is a busy one.

From the Freeport Wharf, we moved on to Popham Beach State Park, way down on the end of the Phippsburg Peninsula.  It was a quiet day at the park and, with no line of cars behind us, we chatted up the friendly staff member at the gate.  She asked if we were going on to the fort after our stop at Popham Beach.   And what fort is that?  As it turned out, we were only a couple of miles from the Fort Popham State Historic Site.  She was so enthusiastic about it that we immediately added it to our itinerary.  First, though, the beach.

The darker, wet sand indicates just how much of the beach is lost to high tide.

Popham Beach State Park is a popular park with both residents and visitors – for good reason.  The views are breathtaking!  The beach is long and wide at low tide, and narrows up considerably as the tide comes in.  At low tide, one can easily walk to a small island offshore, but if you lose track of time, you’ll be stuck there for hours.  According to the young lady at the gate, the Park Rangers were vigilant about visitors’ safety, and access to the island was carefully monitored.

This is the island that's easily accessible at low tide.

Alan and I had made a rookie mistake that morning by failing to throw our camp chairs in the truck.  Luckily, we found a driftwood log on the beach – a well-placed, if not exceptionally comfortable, perch from which to enjoy the view – and a gorgeous view it was!

If we had our camp chairs, we would have stayed all day.

After saying goodbye to Popham Beach (and vowing to return on a future trip), we wandered over to the Fort Popham Historic Site.  At so many forts and monuments, visitor access is restricted due to safety or security concerns.   We were delighted to find that visitors can wander throughout the ruins of the Fort, climbing towers and peering out windows to their hearts’ content.

It was such a treat to wander freely among the ruins at Fort Popham.

While Alan was peering out one of the windows that overlooked the cove, he spotted something in the water.  Then, he spotted more than one something.  When he realized it was a small pod of seals, we excitedly made our way out of the fort and along the shoreline to get a better look.  Without my other camera lens, I had to make do with the less than stellar photos produced by my regular one.  At least, though, we had some photos, even if they weren’t the best.  Our guess was that the cove was a good fishing spot, because the seals stayed for quite a while, disappearing underwater in one place and then reappearing somewhere else.  The cove was popular with gulls and cormorants, too, so I imagine it was good fishing for everyone.  Grateful for a well-placed bench and some sizable rocks along the shore that provided a front row seat, we enjoyed watching the seals feed and frolic in the waters around the fort.  This little treat was unexpected, but most definitely enjoyed and appreciated.

These seals were fairly close to shore and quite entertaining.

As the afternoon wore on and we started getting hungry, we decided it was time to move along to Georgetown Island, home of the Five Islands Lobster Company.  Neither one of us is a lobster fanatic.  Yes, we’ve been enjoying our lobster rolls in Maine, but we wouldn’t buy or order lobster at home or at a restaurant.   While the lobster rolls have been tasty, it has really been the experience of dining al fresco while enjoying gorgeous views that has held the appeal for us here in Maine.  Dining on incredibly fresh seafood at a quintessential lobster shack at the water’s edge in coastal Maine is the epitome of the kind of adventure we enjoy.  Since the Five Islands Lobster Company was reputed to have great food and amazing views, I knew this would be the highlight of our day.  Not.

I couldn't believe my eyes - the sign to the left of the door really did say "CLOSED!"

Yup, the Friday after Memorial Day weekend, this little gem was not open for business.  According to the notice tacked by the door, the Five Islands Lobster Company would only be open on Saturdays and Sundays through the end of May.  The next day was Saturday, but we’d be leaving for home early in the morning.  There were not enough words in the dictionary to express my disappointment.  Because (to me) the view was, indeed, to die for.  Copious picnic tables on the deck, magnificent views of the water, islands and boats in the harbor, the traditional lobster shack painted in a bright and cheery lobster red – the fact that we wouldn’t be eating here was just too much for me to process.  Standing on the deck overlooking the harbor, I said to Alan, “I am SO eating here!”  Maybe not at that moment in time, but the Five Islands Lobster Company had been indelibly stamped on my bucket list.

Plenty of gorgeous views, but no lobster for lunch

My dear, dear husband saved the day – and my bucket list.  He promised that we’d find a few open days in our summer calendar, and he would take me to Maine for lunch.  Much to my surprise, we did find a few open days in July.  Not only would we be able to enjoy lunch at Five Islands but, as an added bonus and if the weather cooperated, it would be a birthday lunch for me.  Gotta love that guy - he’s a keeper!

“Sea” you in Maine!

Since Alan and I were planning on a late lunch at Five Islands, we had no dinner plans in place for our last evening in Maine.  We were pretty darn hungry on our way back to our site at Winslow Memorial Park and Campground, and we stopped at the Tuscan Brick Oven Bistro on Main Street in Freeport.  The charcuterie board was attractive and tasty, our meals were excellent, and we agreed that the Bistro would make a good addition to our “return to” list.

Before we headed out for “Lunch in Maine” in July, June would bring a 12 day trip in New England that we called the “Little States Trip.”  Come along to Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut with us, as we color in three of the remaining four contiguous states on our camping map.



  1. You need to just stop. You’re going to make me spend too much money next summer in Maine. And remind me to tell you something funny about the beginning of the paragraph that described Alan’s peering out of windows. Hasta Miercoles, Amiga!

    1. Let me understand this, Mike. You decided to add Five Islands Lobster Company and the Tuscan Brick Oven Bistro to your list of options in Maine, and somehow it's my fault that you're spending money? We need to discuss this. Miercoles.

  2. Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com10/06/2023 3:51 PM

    We don't have wide low-tide beaches like that were I live in SoCal and I find them fascinating. We did experience them on Vancouver Island, though. There is something magical about walking somewhere that will be covered in water in a few hours. I'm glad you got to go back and enjoy a lobster lunch with that gorgeous view!

    1. I think that beach was one of the prettiest I've ever seen! But it was amazing to see how much of it was covered by the incoming tide. When we went back, we did see a park staff member checking the island as the tide was coming in to be sure everyone got back to shore in time. Yes! Five Islands was definitely worth the return trip! 😋

  3. The sea, sand, and seals--what a way to spend a beautiful day in Maine. Hopefully, you made it to the clearance aisle at L.L. Bean's. Loved this post. Joe

    1. Thanks, Joe! There are so many things to love about Maine, and its gorgeous coastline is one of my favorites. Please tell Helen I said hi!


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