Disposable Camera Tour
Peaks Island, Maine|
CIty of Portland in Casco
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.
Visited 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.
All photos and text by J. Dennis Robinson
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