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Some 25,000 years ago, Maine was covered with ice thousands of feet thick. Since the big melt of that Ice Age, which formed the many peninsulas, great bays and islands of the coast of Maine, since the Pilgrims’ very first landing in the New World on this “rockbound coast” (not at Plymouth), since the mid-1800’s when coastal steamers and trains began bringing summer visitors – the coastline of Maine has remained one of the most spectacular regions in the entire world, its natural beauty largely unspoiled by man or time. To get a small taste of Maine’s coast, click on the video below:
The coast of Maine, measured directly from one end to the other, is only 228 miles. So, many people are surprised to learn that Maine’s shoreline (3,478 miles) is longer than California’s (3,427 miles) and is only exceeded in length by 2 continental states, Florida (8,426 miles) and Louisiana (7,721 miles of mostly bayou country).
Additionally, Maine’s coast has close to 3000 offshore islands – from small granite ledges to Mount Desert Island which encompasses Acadia National Park. Many of these islands represent the tops of mountains formed before the Ice Ages. Most are uninhabited by humans, but all are natural habitats for small sea life, seals, sea birds, plants and animals. Some have thriving villages serviced by daily ferry service from the mainland. A few have only lighthouses. About 1,200 islands comprise an acre or more; roughly 600 of these, representing 95% of Maine’s total island acreage, are owned by individuals. An exciting way to visit some of these islands is by taking a Windjammer cruise – to see what this would be like, click on the video below:
There are 3 distinct regions to Maine’s coastal landscape. Three-fourths of all visitors to Maine stay along the coastline and more than half of these go to the SOUTH COAST, with its long, white sandy beaches interspersed with rocky cliffs and resort villages. This region stretches from the Piscatagua River to Portland’s Casco Bay and includes the Yorks, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport and Old Orchard Beach. The MIDCOAST region, the area from Portland to the head of Penobscot Bay, is made up of a series narrow, rocky peninsulas jutting out into the Gulf of Maine, each with its own feel and character. The DOWN EAST COAST, from the Penobscot River to the Canadian border, is similar in geography to the midcoast area with many outstretched fingers of rocky land and offshore islands, but with a much more remote feel and unhurried tempo.
For people wishing to explore this dramatic coastline and learn more about its history, we recommend the Maine Maritime Heritage Trail and/or the Maine Island Trail. The Maine Maritime Heritage Trail has points of interest all along the length of the Maine coast. The Maine Island Trail is a boating trail along 325 miles of public and private islands. To get an idea of what exploring this trail would be like, click on the video below:
Of Maine’s 3000 coastal islands, this is a list of the 41 inhabited islands, in alphabetical order. Just click on the islands name for more detailed information. (courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)