Superyacht Destination Guide: Maine & Nova Scotia

Offered By Superyacht East Coast
Offered By Fore Points Marina - an IGY destination

With thanks to Superyacht East Coast and Fore Points Marina, an IGY Destination


With a thriving culture, a famous food scene and a fascinating maritime history, the northeast coastline has long enticed cruisers to its shores. But whilst Newport, Rhode Island, is known as the sailing capital of America, and Nantucket, Hyannis and Provincetown have always been popular cruising grounds, just a little further along the coast awaits a booming superyacht destination. If you’re looking for an experience more unique than the typical New England circuit, look no further than the remote waters of Maine and Nova Scotia.

Mainly the reserve of locals, lobsters and lighthouses before, Maine and Nova Scotia have seen increasing numbers of superyachts gracing their waters in the last two years. Even prior to the pandemic an itch was felt throughout the industry to explore new horizons, and recently the likes of 95-metre (312-foot) Kismet, 87-metre (285-foot) Fountainhead and 138-metre (453-foot) Rising Sun have been spotted off the coast of Bar Harbour, Maine. In fact, the region has been busier than ever in the last two years. Maine and Nova Scotia are calling - and they won’t disappoint.

Superyacht in Nova Scotia
Superyacht in Nova Scotia | Photo by: Tourism Nova Scotia, Photographer: Patrick Rojo

Adventure-seeking superyacht owners and charterers will be treated to thousands of sprawling islands, mile upon mile of craggy, pine-lined clifftop and many solitary picture-postcard lighthouses. Get off the beaten track, step back in time and explore historic Maine and Nova Scotia, while immersing yourself in culinary experiences guaranteed to enliven the senses.

When to visit Maine and Nova Scotia on a superyacht

Both Maine and Nova Scotia have a warm-summer continental climate, with no dry season. Average summer highs in Maine are in the mid-twenties degrees Celsius (upper-seventies degrees Fahrenheit) and average lows are in the upper-teens degrees Celsius (upper-sixties degrees Fahrenheit). Nova Scotia is just a degree or two cooler.

The more daring cruiser arriving in May will be rewarded with the splendours of the first bursts of spring, whilst those intrepid enough to remain for the turn of autumn will be treated to the sight of beautiful foliage bouncing off the water in reds, oranges and yellows. Being this far north the summer season is to be savoured, with June, July and August providing long, sunny days. Whilst June might be bright, the brisk bite of spring can still linger in the air, particularly in Nova Scotia. September, on the other hand, is one of the most popular months for visitors in Maine, with warm days and the evenings only just beginning to cool.

Due to the short season most of the region’s activities and festivals are concentrated in the summer months, making for a busy social calendar.

Yacht clearance and cruising permits

If arriving from abroad, all yachts visiting either Canada or United States must call the country’s border agency (Canada Border Services Agency or U.S. Customs Border Protection) to declare the vessel’s arrival and any goods acquired abroad. No one may leave or board the yacht until customs processing is complete, except to report arrival.

In Maine, private yachts longer than 77m (253ft) are required to take a local harbour pilot on board to guide them into harbours or bays regardless of the time, day or night, or what the sea conditions or weather is like when they arrive.

In Nova Scotia, yachts over 500 gross tonnes visiting Halifax, Sydney or Bras d’Or Lake, Cape Breton Island, require a compulsory pilot. Visiting superyachts can order a pilot via the Atlantic Pilotage Authority.

What to do in Maine

Lumber, lobster, liquor and lighthouses

Maine lighthouse

Known as The Pine Tree State, almost 90% of Maine is covered in verdant forest and it boasts a captivating history. As the tallest tree in eastern North America, the white pine is the official state tree of Maine and it’s this particular specimen that provides the state’s maritime backbone. Even in the early 1600s they were coveted as ship masts by the British Navy, who harvested the largest for their own use.

With more coastline than California and more islands than the rest of the US east coast put together, Maine also produces 90% of the country’s lobster. The 4,000 islands are as diverse as they are numerous and provide the perfect nurseries for small and adolescent lobsters. Some islands are designated nature preserves, some are large rocks that are only visible at certain tides and others are inhabited year-round.

Maine has always had a thriving farm-to-table and boat-to-plate culinary scene and now it’s not just traditional fare like lobster rolls, fried clams, steak, blueberry muffins and whoopee pies. Groundbreaking chefs are seeking out the best of Maine’s plentiful fresh bounty and adding a Mediterranean, Mexican, Polynesian or Asian twist that you won’t want to miss.

Maine is also host to a robust and highly skilled artisan distilling industry, known as farm-to-flask, blending the best of Maine’s agricultural products with time-honoured distilling methods to create spirits deliciously unique to Maine. Try a tour of one of the many local distilleries or visit a local brewery. Maine has more craft breweries per capita than anywhere in the USA.

Lastly, Maine is home to an incredible 65 lighthouses, each more impressive than the last. Sailing - or cruising - by on a superyacht offers a truly unique photographic and artistic opportunity to capture these beacons, as remarkable through the morning fog as the bright days of summer. Lighthouses you will almost certainly encounter include Cape Elizabeth, Seguin Island, Permaquid Island, Owls Head and Bass Harbour Head.

Portland

Portland, Maine townscape

Portland is the ideal base to explore Casco Bay and its 785 islands. It’s the ideal point to start each new adventure up the coast, not only for its great location but for its services too. There is fuelling in slip at over 90 gallons-per-minute, plenty of options for provisioning and the team at Fore Points Marina are at your disposal. They’re sure to have some hidden gems up their sleeve for your cruising plans. Only a 15-minute drive from the nearest airport, Fore Points Marina is the perfect place to launch a trip of a lifetime along this stunning coastline.

But as the cool kid of New England, Portland is more than just a jumping off spot. From the luxury of a massage on board your yacht, to a night at the Portland Museum of Art, to deep sea fishing for tuna with the Rita B, Portland, really has it all. You can even pull your own lobster trap out of the sea at the same time as learning about sustainable fishing. And with 524 culinary options served with a friendly smile from the locals, the choice of sea-to-table dishes, Maine craft brew and carefully curated cocktails is guaranteed to delight, whatever your tastes.

House Island

This idyllic, 26-acre private island greets you as you enter Portland Harbour from Casco Bay. Previously inaccessible even to most Portlanders, it rose to fame during the pandemic as a sanctuary for visiting superyachts. Recent visitors include 90m (295ft) DreAMBoat, 70m (230ft) Felix and 117m (384ft) Infinity. With deep-water anchorages of 15m only a stone’s throw from shore, three helicopter landing pads and the backdrop of Portland’s sparkling skyline, House Island could become Maine’s ultimate superyacht destination for those seeking privacy and seclusion.

Boothbay Harbour

Sunset Boothbay Harbour

Fringed with evergreen forests and rocky outcroppings, the village of Boothbay Harbour lies 51 nautical miles north of Portland. Home to six art galleries, five shipyards, two breweries, an opera house and only 3,000 people, Boothbay Harbour is steeped in maritime history. Whilst for three years up to July 2020 no local pilot was available to guide superyachts larger than 77m (253ft) into Boothbay Harbour, it’s now a must-see for yachts of all sizes and predilections.

The historic Burnt Island Lighthouse guarding the harbour entrance offers a fascinating opportunity to absorb the area’s past and take a hike through its woodlands. A stroll around the attractive shops and restaurants of Townsend Avenue and Oak Street provides a glimpse of modern Maine, whilst the 300 acres of the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden affords the nature lovers the chance to get lost in this unfolding delight.

And a favourite day out for the local population, a tender ride over to Cabbage Island accompanied with lunch at Clambakes is a must. Even though you need a boat to get there, it’s so popular that you’ll probably need a reservation.

As you venture further around the rugged coastline, drop in to the uninhabited but absolutely stunning Damarsicove Island for wonderful walks and scintillating swimming.

And at Monhegan Island you’ll find precariously balanced stacks of lobster traps fringing the unpaved roads that lead up to the village and the highest ocean cliffs on the Maine coastline. Reward yourself with a refreshment with Matt and Mary Weber at the Monhegan Brewing Company, home of ‘craft beer, 10 miles out to sea’, or drop in to one of the many art studios.

Rockland

Maine Lobster Festival 2015

Rockland, first settled by Europeans in 1769, is home to the Maine Lobster Festival held on the first weekend every August. Each year about 9,000kg (20,000lbs) are consumed over the festival’s five days. It’s also home to Bleecker & Greer, the place to buy local butchered meats and the best bread in the area. Once dominated by shipbuilders, lime quarries, fisheries, tanneries, cooperages and grain mills, since the early 1990s Rockland has seen a shift to a service economy. It now boasts an array of tourism opportunities, unique shops, boutiques, fine dining and art galleries. It even has its own chocolate factory.

Camden

10 nautical miles north of Rockland lies Camden which, at the turn of the 20th century, homed some of the wealthiest and most prominent families. After noticing the many private yachts of the upper class moored alongside his in Camden Harbour, Philadelphia publishing tycoon Cyrus Curtis established the Camden Yacht Club in 1906.

For truly breath-taking views of Penobscot Bay and Camden itself, hike up the towering Mount Battie. Or instead, why not take a car, and save yourself for a stroll along the High Street Historic District later, where you will be transported back in time amongst the architectural marvels of the 19th century buildings.

Penobscot Bay

Both Rockland and Camden are perfect launch pads to explore Penobscot Bay. At 64km (40 mi) long and 24km (15 mi) wide, Penobscot Bay is a plentiful cruising ground with more than 200 islands spread across its Atlantic waters. There is so much to do, it’s as if it was made to be visited by superyachts. Gaze at the seals, puffins and dolphins as you cruise against a stunning backdrop of the Camden Hills, go ashore at Warren Island for a hike through the pines before a restful lunch on the beach, or while away an entire day at one of the more remote spots, such as Goose Cove on Deer Isle.

Isle au Haut

Rocky Coast, Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park

Isle au Haut is the ultimate Maine adventure, guaranteeing a great escape from civilization. Despite Isle au Haut sprawling for 8,000 acres across Penobscot Bay’s western entrance, there is only one village, home to a church, a general store and fewer than 80 permanent residents. Those seeking something different will be intrigued to hear there are no hotels and no telephone signal. Take your tender into Town Landing, and hike or bike the Duck Harbour or the Long Pond trails before heading back for lunch. There are no restaurants, so try a generously proportioned traditional lobster roll and a blueberry lemonade at the Maine Lobster Lady’s food truck.

Mount Desert Island

At 280km² (108 square miles), Mount Desert Island is the largest island off the coast of Maine. Somes Sound – classed as a fjard rather than a fjord – is 8km (5 mi) long and almost splits the island in two. With depths of up to 50m (175ft), it provides a jaw-dropping background in which to anchor.

About half of the island is preserved by the Acadia National Park, which was created by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. Cadillac Mountain – the highest point on the island at 466m (1,530ft) – provides great views of Bar Habour and Frenchman Bay directly below. This point offers the first glimpse of sunlight in continental USA for six months of the year – there is a road to the top if you don’t fancy the sunrise hike.

Bar Harbour, on the north-east shore, is the largest town on Mount Desert Island with around 5,000 inhabitants. Try a Blueberry Ale at the Atlantic Brewing Company, or lunch at Reading Room before taking a stroll along the Shore Path that begins outside. And just 8km (5 mi) south of Bar Harbour is the aptly named Thunder Hole – when the waves kick up, a thunderous roar accompanies a spectacular waterspout from the cavern in the rock.

Sunrise Summit, Mount Cadillac

Yacht berths in Maine

Fore Points Marina

Opened in May 2019, Fore Points Marina in Portland, Maine, was designed with mega yachts/superyachts in mind. It has the ability to berth the largest yachts in the world, with 7m (24ft) depths, and a total of 15 superyacht berths. Amenities and features include 3-phase, 100 amp in-slip pump-out and high-speed in-slip fuelling at over 90 gallons-per-minute, full-service concierge, a designated crew area, 24-hour security and ISPS compliance. It’s just steps away from world-class restaurants and the delights of Downtown Portland.

Hodgdon Marina

Hodgdon Marina in Boothbay Harbour, Maine, has 230m (759ft) of linear dockage for yachts with a draft of 2.5 to 5.5m (8 to 18ft) and 30-, 50- and 100-amp power hook-ups. The marina offers a concierge service, laundry facilities, water, fuel, free wi-fi and is pet-friendly.

Carousel Marina

Located on the east side of Boothbay Harbour with views of vessels entering and leaving, Carousel Marina has deep-water floating docks that can accommodate yachts up to 55m (180ft) and 28 heavy-duty, deep-water moorings. Fuel and pump-out are available and there is a restaurant and pub on-site.

Journey's End Marina

Based in Rockland, Maine, Journey’s End Marina is a full-service marina offering 85 deep-water slips up to 82m (270ft). It has 100-amp power, fuel, water and wi-fi and is just a one-minute walk away from the Bixby Chocolate Factory and downtown Rockland with its museums, boutiques and fine dining.

Camden Marina

At Lyman-Morse, Camden Marina is a full-service yachting facility accommodating yachts up to 49m (160ft) with 100-amp power. Since a fire in 2020, Lyman-Morse has undertaken a major upgrade of its inner harbour boatyard and marina. It can accommodate yachts up to 49m (160ft), with 100-amp power available, and provides easy access to the town’s extensive services and amenities.

Dysart’s Marina

Dysart’s Marina in Southwest Harbour, Desert Island, Maine, is a 150-berth marina with floating docks for transient yachts up to 68m (223ft). It has fuel, 100-amp, 3-phase shore power, pump-out facilities, fresh water with an on-site restaurant and bar.

The Harborside Hotel Marina

Based in Bar Harbour, Desert Island, Maine, The Harborside Hotel Marina has just six slips for yachts up to 61m (200ft). It offers fresh water and electric hook up, diesel fuel, concierge service, and passenger access to the spa, tennis courts, business centre and dining facilities.

What to do in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is heavily influenced by the sea and its maritime heritage. Rugged and wild, it teems with incredible wildlife, stunning natural landscape and picturesque fishing towns. It truly is one of the best places to see and appreciate nature in all its glory.

Aerial of Halifax, Nova Scotia

While the living landscape is its own wonder, its inhabitants give the area a distinct character unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere. Living out on the edge of North America and isolated from much of the world, a culture has developed that respects its history with the influences of English, Irish, French, and Indigenous ancestors. As a result, it has infused the area with a warm jovial character where the locals are known for their creativity, unique language, storytelling abilities and, of course, food.

Clinging to the rest of North America by a low-lying isthmus, Nova Scotia is almost an island boasting over 13,300km (8,300mi) of ever-changing coastline riddled with inlets, islands, coves and harbours. The landscape is as diverse as the seascape, from the vineyards of the Annapolis Valley to the rolling highlands of Cape Breton Island. The Atlantic Coastline is rugged but beautiful, the brackish waters of the Bras d’Or Lake beckon further exploration, while the warm waters of the Northumberland Strait invite swimmers and sailors alike. A seemingly endless coastline unfolds, rewarding visitors with new experiences around every corner.

Whether it’s fine dining or a laid-back picnic, Nova Scotia’s culinary offerings are a must. Indulge in abundant seafood or farm-to-plate delights, paired with award-winning wines or one of countless local craft beer or spirits. For those seeking outdoor activities, biking, hiking, surfing and award-winning golf courses await. From the laid back and idyllic settings of quaint seaside villages, to the vibrant energy of Nova Scotia’s capital, Halifax, this territory is full of surprises.

Nova Scotia impresses an irresistible feeling of belonging on all those who visit, and then subsequently struggle to leave.

Where to go in Nova Scotia

Lunenburg

Aerial of Lunenberg, Nova Scotia

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, wander Olde Town Lunenburg’s distinctive waterfront and brightly coloured buildings. Listen for salty tales of seafaring and rum-running on its working waterfront while dining on world-famous lobster. A two-minute stroll from the waterfront, take a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of Ironworks Distillery while tasting some of the fine spirits they have created along the way.

Kejimkujik

Experience the unsurpassed beauty and natural wonder of the only Parks Canada site that is designated both a National Park and a National Historic site. Best reached from Lunenburg, explore wilderness trails, lakes and rivers by foot, by canoe or by kayak.

Peggy’s Cove

Halfway between Lunenburg and Halifax lies Peggy’s Cove. Built in 1915, Peggy’s Point Lighthouse still keeps watch over surging ocean waves and working lobster boats. No beacon is as photographed or as well-known as the one in the vibrant fishing village of Peggy’s Cove.

Halifax

Take in the bustling harbour activity with a stroll along the vibrant Halifax Waterfront, home to bars, restaurants, shops, entertainment and museums. Or visit the Halifax Citadel, originally built as a military fortification to protect the Empire from enemies (and the occasional pirate). Today the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site and its distinctive Clock Tower act as a reminder of Halifax’s rich past, right in the heart of the city.

Cape Breton

With 26 hiking trails, six magnificent beaches, 24 stunning look-off points, eight campgrounds, a plethora of waterfalls, and world-class golf at Highlands Links, Cape Breton Highlands National Park is an outdoor adventure hotspot. Whilst the Cabot Trail – voted one of the world’s most scenic drives – offers jaw-dropping coastal views, other stops along the way are just as memorable: famed hiking trails, picturesque villages and towns, artisanal shops and more. At the centre of Cape Breton Island lies Bras d’Or Lake, a 100km-long (62mi), 50km-wide (31mi) body of water that is connected to the North Atlantic by two natural channels in the north and the man-made St. Peter’s Canal to the south.

Skyline trail look off at sunset on French mountain, Cape Breton

Yacht berths in Nova Scotia

Halifax Waterfront Marina

In the centre of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Halifax Waterfront Marina offers multiple berthing locations across more than 1.5km (1mi) of public berth space, providing more than 732m (2,400ft) of floating docks which includes Foundation Wharf and Queens Marque in the heart of Halifax.

Lunenburg Marina

Based in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia’s seafaring history and boatbuilding traditions are epitomised along this waterfront. Home to a range of vessels from dories to superyachts, Lunenburg Marina has recently hosted 30m (102ft) M/Y Planet Solar and 113m (370ft) Tall Ship Esmeralda.

Port of Sydney

Known as the gateway to the stunning Cape Breton Island, the Port of Sydney in Sydney, Nova Scotia, offers bunkering at the main dock, water, waste oil/bilge removal and more. Recently visited by 50m (164ft) M/Y My Lady in 2021, this huge harbour can fulfil all your superyacht needs.

Plan your trip to Maine and Nova Scotia

Are Maine and Nova Scotia ticking your boxes? It’s time you start planning your trip! It’s worth noting that plenty of talented technicians have set up businesses to assist with recommended itineraries, anchorages, berthing, provisioning, fuel bunkering, concierge and other services.


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