In a previous post, we mentioned how you can stay active on land… but being on an island, we realize that is only half the fun. Here are some ways you can take advantage of the lakes and oceans in and around Mount Desert Island.

Kayaking. No matter what your experience level, you can head out in Somes Sound or one of the lakes for a paddle.

Acadia Park Kayak Tours in Bar Harbor offers guided tours including Daytime & Sunset tours, Night Star Gazing, Private Tours, and more. Be sure to check out their website for schedules, rates, booking info, and their extensive FAQ!

Kayak (and canoe) rentals are also available on Long Pond in Mount Desert through National Park Canoe Rental. Rentals include free instruction, as well as U.S.C.G. approved life jackets, map and instructions.

In Southwest Harbor, check out Maine State Sea Kayak for more options in exploring the sea around MDI.

If you aren’t sure where to go, consider a tour National Sea Park Kayak takes people out on excursions to the ‘quiet side’ of MDI. All their tours are in tandem kayaks, great for families or people with a little less kayaking experience in particular.

Acadia Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is a one-of-a-kind experience, too! You can join a group for instruction or get private instruction, or even rent a paddleboard for up to a week. Depending on personal preference, you may enjoy trying out the paddleboard on a lake or in the ocean. You can even try Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga! For more information, check out their website here.

Sailing. MDI Community Sailing in Southwest Harbor offers Junior and Adult Programs that teach sailing, as well as offering private lessons and open sailing on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. To use their boats, you just have to be a member!

Northeast Harbor Sailing School also offers sailing lessons for younger kids, and they occasionally join forces with the MDI Community Sailing classes. In addition to classes, there are some fun events for the family such as a 4th of July gathering and a weekly “Mercury Racing” night for all sailors followed by a pizza party.  The sailing school is run by the Northeast Harbor Fleet. Members of the fleet are granted perks such as access to boats, mooring, racing opportunities, and more.

Sail Acadia offers sailing tours from Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor (depending on the boat you choose). They offer a variety of tours, from a half-day sail, sunset sail, Cranberry Island Tour, Lighthouse Tour, and a sail that is focused on instruction. The cool thing about these tours- you can decide how involved you want to be in the sailing process (i.e. “all hands on deck” or “actually I’ll just sit on the deck”).

Swimming. In the summertime, many people want to spend some time in the water. In her blog “Scraped Up Kid,” Cherie Gaylean shares a couple of family friendly swimming locations (all outdoors).

Depending on whether you want fresh, salt, or pool water for swimming, you have a LOT of options on MDI.

For pools, the MDI YMCA has an indoor pool open year round (check out the calendar for Open Swim times). Glen Mary in Bar Harbor is a public outdoor pool popular for younger kids (it’s more a wading pool than something full sized). Many hotels have pools for their guests as well, including Bar Harbor Club, West Street Hotel, Bluenose Inn, Villager Motel, Kimball Terrace Inn, Balance Rock Inn, and more.

This list from WikiTravel has both fresh and salt water options for swimming. Typically, the most popular options include Echo Lake (fresh water) and Sand Beach (salt water).

Acadia Magic includes Seal Harbor Beach (salt water) and Lamoine State Park (not technically on MDI but if you’re looking to cool off away from summer crowds, it is a good option).

If you want to try a bit of active surf & turf (i.e. land activity plus water activity), there are some hikes that will take you either through or to some local swimming areas. The more popular options are in the post below:

High Five: Best Hike’s with a Swim on MDI


As you can see, whether you are active on land or on the water, Mount Desert Island has a lot to offer.

Let us know if we missed your favorite way to be active on the water in the comments section!

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