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Peaks Island, Maine
CIty of Portland in Casco Bay
 

Peaks Island Peaks Island in Casco Bay gets our award for the most accessible island weíve visited. The ferry from Portland, Maine takes a mere 15 minutes, which is why Peaks is so easy to tour and so heavily populated. Roughly 1,000 Mainers live there year round and many commute to the city. The ferry was just $3, making this certainly the least expensive island visit in the region we know. A little larger than New Castle, New Hampshire, Peaks is 720 acres with pave and dirt roads. We heard that summer visitors and tourists can pack the place on-season, so we waited until the leaves were turning to make our recent visit.

Make sure to bring your bicycle (just $5 additional) and please donít bring your car. Peaks has plenty of cars. The drive around the perimeter is a little more than four miles. The island is a lazy but complex network of roads with hundreds of cottages Ė from teeny shacks to seaside MacMansions. The level roads are fine for walking, but perfect for bikes, especially off season. Half of the round trip winds through residential streets and the other half runs right along the sea with picturesque rocks and crashing surf.

Peaks offers a few eateries, one open year round, and a general store that is the lifeline for full time residents. There is a library, little beaches, dramatic views and walking trails. Donít miss the museum dedicated to a local Civil War regiment or the lovely walk around Long Point peninsula nearby.

GOseacoast.comVisited by Europeans in 1623, settled in 1670, then attacked by Indians, Peaks has a long and colorful history. The island became a summer tourist destination in a big way during the 1880s. Private homes multiplied after water and electrical service from the nearby mainland began early in the 20th century. Like many spots along the Eastern Seaboard, Peaks has its share of military fortifications built through to World War II and now abandoned.

Today the island is served by regular ferries from the Casco Bay Lines. Visitors can park for a dollar an hour in a large lot immediately adjacent to the ferry in Portland Harbor. All the shops and restaurants of the popular Old Port area are just blocks away. Peaks is the perfect day, or even half-day trip. We caught the mid-morning ferry, dined on island, explored the full circle by bike, toured the Fifth Regiment Museum (a yellow building with a round tower on Maple Street), stopped at the little gift shop and were back on the mid-afternoon ferry in time for a grand dinner in Portland. An extremely good map by Map Adventures, LLC made the tour even easier. The trip back to Portsmouth, NH is just an hour by car. --- JDR

Peaks Island

Peaks Island

Peaks Island

Peaks Island

Peaks Island

Peaks Island

Peaks Island

Peaks Island

Peaks Island

Peaks Island

All photos and text by J. Dennis Robinson
Copyright © 2003 SeacoastNH.com. All rights reserved.

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