Exploring the islands
What better way to spend a hot summer’s day, than travelling down the bay. Casco Bay, that is. At the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal, on Commercial Street in Portland, there are several boats that head down the bay every day. Two of the most popular runs are the 10 a.m. boat which is the freight run, and the mail boat run which departs Portland at 2:45 p.m. Both the freight boat and the mail boat run stop at all of the islands, which includes: Little Diamond Island, Great Diamond Island (sometimes including Diamond Cove), Long Island, Chebeague Island, and Cliff Island.
You can stop at any one of the islands, and then hop on a return boat a few hours later, depending on the schedule. Check with Casco Bay Transit to confirm that your island hopping plans will mesh with the boat schedule.
Which island to stop at? They all have their own unique offerings and flavor. Little Diamond Island has no amenities, but offers fine views and classic summer cottage architecture. Great Diamond Island offers a 4 star restaurant, as well as a small café, a museum, and a beautiful parade and common ground area, amongst the officer’s quarters which have been renovated into condos. Long Island has several lunch spots, the best beaches in Casco Bay, and a gift shop. Chebeague Island also has a few restaurants, gift shops, a golf course, an inn, and not too many hills if you are cycling. Cliff Island is a step back in time, with dirt roads and very few cars – it too offers a lunch spot, and gift shop.
The best way to see any of the islands is by bicycle, but a few are walkable. You may not see all of the island, but you can visit the shops and beaches. Bring a picnic lunch, or dine in one of the many lunch spots offered on most of the islands. A few of the islands offer overnight accommodations.
Or, you can have your picnic aboard; just stay on the boat, take in the scenery and the fresh salty air and enjoy being at sea on a 3-hour tour.
For more information see www.cascobaylines.com. If you bring your bicycles you will need to purchase a ticket for both you and your bike. Bring a jacket.