Here are some questions people frequently ask us about kayaking around Mount Desert Island:
Q: What's the difference in a trip on the "west side" and a trip in Frenchman Bay?
A: It's all a matter of preference. Paddling on the west side is a quieter experience, which many people like. Others enjoy the more dramatic scenery of Frenchman Bay near Bar Harbor. Coastal is the only outfitter which regularly runs trips in both locations, thus allowing our customers to choose their destination.
Q: Will I regularly see more wildlife in one location than the other?
A: No, and beware here of sales pitches from companies that paddle in only one location or the other. Our guides compile detailed reports each year of wildlife sightings. Some years we see more seals and porpoises in Frenchman Bay; others years, we see more on the west side of the island. But numbers are always similar, year after year. And as far as bald eagles are concerned, we always see more in Frenchman Bay.
Q: How much time does it take to get to the west side? How about for Frenchman Bay?
A: You need to allow an average of about half an hour each way to get to the west side, so your time on the water is shorter. There is virtually no travel time to paddle in Frenchman Bay since we are located only a couple of blocks from the water. Some people looking for a quieter experience think the travel time is worth it; others don't and would rather get more of their four hours on the water or taking a break on an island in Frenchman Bay.
Q: How long are the tours?
A: Our shortest tours last two and a half hours; all those run in Frenchman Bay. Our four-hour tours run on both the west side on the island and in Frenchman Bay, depending on which departure you choose. We also offer full-day tours, with a variety of paddling venues.
Q: What goes into making a good sea kayak guide?
A: No matter how spectacular the scenery, your trip is only as good as your guide, and that's where Coastal excels. We are the only outfitter on Mount Desert Island that runs its own guide training program; that means we never have to take guides with inadequate expertise, paddling skills or knowledge. The bottom line? You'll have fun with our guides, because they have fun.
Q: Is sea kayaking safe for people with no experience? How difficult is it?
A: Sea kayaking is absolutely a safe sport, and we've been running trips since 1982, longer than any other outfitter on the Maine coast. Our tandem kayaks are super-stable, so won't get a "tippy" feeling once you're floating. Your guide will provide a paddling lesson before your trip begins, and while you won't become an expert in one outing, you'll be surprised how easy and comfortable it is to paddle a sea kayak.