Destination: Seaside retreat

An aerial view of the Newage Seaside Inn.

May 2022

By Albert Presgraves

For many cruising mariners in Maine, the best places to visit are the small coves and remote anchorages, far away from big marinas or other development. Sure, it can be nice to stop at a shoreside restaurant for a special meal or even at a marina to get a shower, parts, or supplies. But often-overlooked destinations are the great coastal Maine resorts, the likes of which are not found anywhere else, certainly not in the same style.

These lush vacation spots are found along much of the Maine coast, from Casco Bay to Bar Harbor, and they exist on other shores of the Pine Tree State as well. And here, I am going to tell you about three examples of these tempting sanctuaries, all fairly close to Portland. They all are located on harbors, with moorings for rent. None of them have marina facilities, and two of the three provide launch service. Most of their customers come by car or ferry; these lodgings could not survive on the few visitors who arrive by private boat. Like all the other similar resorts in the state, each is special in a memorable way. And they are extra-special if you can arrive by boat.

Chebeague Island Inn, Casco Bay

The Chebeague Island Inn is located on the northwest side of Chebeague Island, Casco Bay. It is right next to the ferry landing for the regular access to the island from Cousins Island in Yarmouth. Chebeague Island is the largest island in Casco Bay, at three-and-a-half miles long and one-and-a-half miles wide. It is also the newest self-governed town in Maine, seceding from the mainland town of Cumberland on July 1, 2007.

The island population is about 400 year-round residents, plus many summer families. Both groups often have roots on the island for generations. The inn, originally called The Hillcrest Hotel, was built in the 1880s and was rebuilt in the 1920s after it burned down. The name was changed to Chebeague Island Inn in 2000.

The inn sits on two-and-a-half acres of oceanfront land, overlooking the harbor where it maintains eight guest moorings just north of the ferry landing. For day stops, the moorings are free; there is probably a fee to spend the night. Just call the inn, and their launch will come right out for you. Then their taxi van will deliver you to the front door.

For smaller boats, there is limited transient town dock space available on a first-come-first-served basis, with a fee. In the unlikely event that the moorings are all taken, there is plenty of anchoring room. When I visited in 2021, our group elected to walk up the short road to the inn, crossing the associated golf course on our way up the hill. The nine-hole golf course is one of the most scenic in the state, with a view of Casco Bay from every hole.

The inn features an exceptional restaurant with an award-winning chef serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as a snack bar and Sunday brunch. Reservations are recommended. When we visited, our lunch was served at tables arranged on the lawn. The views from the inn’s porches and dining room are unbeatable, especially at sunset. The inn has bicycles, lawn games, and a clay tennis court. I’m sure the rooms at the inn would be a comfortable and singular experience.

FMI: 207-846-5155
chebeagueislandinn.com.

Sebasco Harbor Resort, New Meadows River

The Sebasco Harbor Resort is in Phippsburg, 46 miles from Portland by car or about 25 miles by boat. This resort is considerably larger than the Chebeague Island Inn, with 450 acres of woodland, waterfront, gardens, and a full 18-hole golf course. In addition to the large main lodge, there are ten guestrooms in The Lighthouse, on the waterfront; two buildings known as the Harbor Village Suites (with luxury accommodations) and the Fairwind Spa Suites (with more options); and 22 diverse cottages, some on the water, but all with views and special features.

Sebasco Harbor is on the east shore of the New Meadows River, only a few miles north of the ocean and just east of Harbor Island. The resort has several moorings and launch service. The landing float is between The Lighthouse and their large Dock House, where several kinds of boat cruises and excursions can be arranged. Moorings can be reserved by phone or through Dockwa (dockwa.com). The harbor is sometimes bumpy in strong southwest winds, but never too bad, being protected by ledges at the harbor entrance. If the moorings are full, there is also room to anchor.

Dining options include a pub and a cafe for coffee and pastries. Their chef honed his skills at some of the best restaurants in the country, and the menu emphasizes local seafood and farm harvest sources. The amenities and features of the resort are extensive. Besides the golf course, there are kayak rentals, hiking trails, a fitness center, spa, tennis courts, bowling lanes, and more. When I stayed with my family many years ago, we enjoyed the huge saltwater swimming pool and its surrounding decks, all directly on the waterfront. The pool and decks are being completely restored and renovated for the 2022 season.

FMI: 866-389-2072
info@sebasco.com
request mooring reservation at sebasco.com.

Newagen Seaside Inn, Sheepscot Bay

The Newagen Seaside Inn began welcoming guests in 1816, then was rebuilt entirely in 1943 after the original inn was burned to the ground. The inn and its waterfront grounds are located at the southern tip of Southport Island, at Cape Newagen, about four miles south of Boothbay Harbor. The facility has a wide range of comfortable accommodations in the Main Inn, the Little Inn, and four cottages.

The harbor itself is known as Cape Harbor, entered from Sheepscot Bay on the west side of Southport Island. To the east of the island, at Cape Newagen, is Booth Bay, north of which is Boothbay Harbor and Linekin Bay. The harbor entrance is only about 75 feet wide, but it’s deep and well-marked between steep rocks to the north and ledges to the south.

The inn maintains several moorings close to their landing float. It is important to reserve ahead because there is no room to anchor in the small harbor, crowded with fishing boats and pleasure craft. The Inn does not provide launch service, so a dinghy is recommended. It would be possible to offload passengers at the float, borrow one of their rowboats, and row it back from the mooring; it is a very short row to their landing float.

When I spent the night on a mooring here with my family in 2007, the historic beachside saltwater pool was closed, and the resort seemed a bit shabby. But the staff were still very welcoming. When I stayed here in 2020, there was a beautifully landscaped, heated saltwater swimming pool, and everything seemed updated and elegant. The service and attitude of everyone were exceptional, even with COVID precautions. The mooring price included breakfast, inside or on the deck.

The inn’s restaurant, The Pub, has a full bar and a great menu, specializing in seafood and local produce. The fantastic view from the restaurant and the adjacent deck overlooks the harbor, Damariscove Island, and some low, rocky ledges out in the Gulf of Maine. In 2021, they offered Tuesday Weekly Lobster Bakes on the lawn, and they had live music in the bar on Thursdays. In addition to the heated pool, the inn has two tennis courts, bicycles, a network of nature trails, billiards, table tennis, and candlepin bowling. Not too shabby.

FMI: 207-633-5242,
newagenseasideinn.com.

More information about all three of these unusual resorts can be found online, and each is happy to welcome boating guests. They are all dog-friendly to some degree; just call them about your canine’s specific needs. The mooring fees are about the same as anywhere along the Maine coast, but the opportunities for relaxation and enjoyable activities are tremendous.

Albert and his wife, Jenny, continue to have fun living and gardening in Newport, Maine, on Bliss Woods Farm, where Jenny trains dogs at her Whole Dog Camp. See more about their adventures and plans at alpeaks.blogspot.com.