Visiting The Coast of Maine


Recently we traveled to Southwest Harbor in Maine, which is just outside Acadia National Park. For this trip I brought my Nikon F3, and my new Nikon S3. As far as 35mm film I’m bringing Kodak Ektar 100 and Portra 160. For medium format, I brought my RB67 with Portra 160, and Ektachrome 100 film. I’m probably bringing my EOS R so I can shoot some digital. But, I’m mainly going to focus on shooting film during this trip. In this post, I’ll show some of my digital images. My film photographs will appear in future posts – since I’m anxious to publish this post today!

There are several lighthouses that I want to try to capture while there. If you want to read the post about my visit to a lighthouse near Victoria, BC in Canada, when I injured myself, click here. I’m also looking forward to photographing the fog rolling in, and taking some photos with my RB67. There should be plenty of opportunity for various ocean and coastal shots.

We fly into Portland, ME, and our first stop will be the small coastal town of Camden. We’ll spend a few days there, and then move on to Southwest Harbor for several more days. Finally, we’ll wind up back in Portland for our last 2 nights before heading back to Texas.

It’s funny, growing up and living up north, we always tried to spend summer in Florida, or someplace warm. Now that we live in Texas, we love getting away for a break to someplace cooler. Maine should be a good choice to cool off a little.

Acadia National Park is a marvelous park, but the area surrounding the park is also very beautiful. The park is actually intermingled with towns and lakes on Mt. Desert Island, which includes the town of Southwest Harbor, where we will spend most of our time.

The photo at the top of this post is from a trip a few years ago to see my cousin playing minor league baseball in Portland, Maine. Ever since that trip, we’ve wanted to return to explore more of Maine.

Our first few days in Camden

Camden is a very nice small town along the coast of Maine. The coast of Maine isn’t like the coast of other states like Florida or Texas. Maine’s coast is very jagged with many peninsulas and long bays which makes driving along the ocean almost impossible since you would have to drive down each long peninsula and back many, many times. Coastal roads typically run up the coast with side roads running down each peninsula to the towns there. We took a few journeys to lighthouses down some peninsulas – which was very time consuming.

Camden sits on a bay inside another bay so it doesn’t have direct, unprotected contact with the open ocean – it is a very well protected port. It was fun walking along the harbor watching the schooners, and many smaller boats, come and go each day.

Satellite photo of Camden, Maine showing the boats in the inner and outer harbor area

While in Camden, we stayed right in the center of town at the Lord Camden Inn. That turned out to be a good choice since driving in and out of Camden would have not been fun, and we could walk anywhere we wanted to go from there. Camden is a relatively small town, with one intersection in the middle of town, and the main road is very congested most days.

One day I walked about a mile out of the middle of Camden to see the Curtis Island Lighthouse. It’s a very picturesque lighthouse, but it’s on a small island at the mouth of the harbor – so you can’t get to it on foot. I did get a couple nice shots from shore.

Curtis Island Lighthouse in Camden

Our time in Southwest Harbor

Southwest Harbor was my favorite part of this trip. It’s a small town on the opposite side of Mt. Desert Island from Bar Harbor.

View from hotel lawn in Southwest Harbor on a misty morning

The harbor, and the small town, were very beautiful, and much less crowded than the other side of the island.

One of my favorite spots to photograph was Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. It’s only a few minutes from where we were staying in Southwest Harbor, however it is generally pretty crowded with people anxious to see the lighthouse. I found that if parking spaces are all taken, you can just wait in your car, in the driveway, until a space becomes available. I think it really is worth seeing once (or more) and worth the wait.

People climbing on the rocks near Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse with fog and Blue Sky

I love the rocky coast of Maine, and Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is a perfect example of Maine’s rugged coastline.

While in Southwest Harbor, I took the opportunity to hike a couple of Acadia’s trails. Acadia is a very interesting park, since it’s spread over the island, and amongst many little towns. One of the hikes I took was at the Flying Mountain Trail, near Southwest Harbor. It only climbs a couple hundred feet, but had some very nice views of Somes Sound below.

Map of Somes Sound and Flying Mountain Trailhead
View from the summit of Flying Mountain Trail

I loved staying in Southwest Harbor. The whole area is very beautiful – and visiting parts of Acadia National Park was fun too – although Acadia is a very busy park at this time of year. I’d like to come back at another time, maybe later in the fall next time.

Back in Portland

Our last 2 nights in Portland were nice, although my wife and I were very tired. We explored some places that we knew about from the last time we were here. Portland is not so huge that you can’t explore the city pretty easily. It is large enough that you will find some fun and unexpected eateries around the various neighborhoods. One such gem that we found was The Front Room. It’s a cozy, friendly little restaurant just down the street from the Portland Observatory, in Portland’s East End. We had brunch there, and it was very relaxing and friendly – oh, and the food was delicious too.

While in Portland, we stayed at a hotel a block away from Higgins Beach – the Higgins Beach Inn. It was fine for our last couple nights, but I would probably not have chosen this hotel if I had known there was no elevator, and that our room was on the 3rd floor. My wife is scheduled for knee replacement surgery in about a week, so it was hard for her with a bad right knee. We took it slow and she did ok. The people at the hotel were very understanding and helped us as much as they could. I just wish I would have checked with them before selecting this hotel – to verify our room location and to learn the details (like the fact that there was no elevator would have been nice to know). I guess I was focusing on our other stays (in Camden and Southwest Harbor) that I didn’t pay enough attention to this last hotel.

All in all, our trip was very fun, and I’d love to visit Maine again. I have lots of photos I took with my RB67 and some 35mm as well. I’ll post them when they get developed. I loved taking film photos, but transporting my RB67 is a bit difficult. I’ll do it as long as I can. If you ever get the chance to visit our New England states, and specifically Maine, I would highly recommend it. Maine is a very beautiful place with lots of interesting history!