A Day On the Bay- A Trip to Peaks Island
Last summer I had the pleasure of joining my friend from California on a trip across the water via Casco Bay Lines ferry to Peaks Island. I had not been to the island for about twenty years and had never had the opportunity to look around. It’s amazing to me how a wonderful little vintage gem of a place could be so close to such a highly urban area like Portland. Peaks Island is just fantastic and a perfect get-away for locals and tourists alike.
Peaks Island is a family friendly island with plenty to see and do for old home enthusiasts, history buffs and nature lovers. Traditional coastal Maine cottages line the streets, many of which have been lovingly restored to their original ornate Victorian styling.
When you arrive at Peaks there is a beautiful little café directly to the left as you come off the ferry. It offers wonderful locally roasted java from Portland’s favorite, Coffee By Design. They also have freshly baked pastries, delicious croissants, soups and sandwiches. A delightful little garden is adjacent to the café where you can sit and sip your coffee or tea amongst gorgeous flowers.
If you did not bring your bike over on the ferry ($6.00 fee per bike) your next stop should be at the bike rental shop, which opens around ten a.m., give or take. Brad’s Recycled Bicycle Shop, located at 115 Island Ave, (207) 766-5631, where you can rent bikes by the hour or by the day. Yes, they accept credit cards. Get there early for the best selection. They do run out quickly. The cost is somewhere around $10.00 for three hours- plenty of time to cruise around the island. If you have children, do not fear; they also have children’s bikes, helmets and tandem bikes. During off-season I found it to be self-service where you leave your information and payment in a box and help yourself to the three dozen or so bikes that they had out in the yard. Bikes seem to be the easiest way to travel around this very low-keyed island. There are very few cars on the island but do keep an eye out for the occasional driver.
It’s easy to cover the island in a fairly short amount of time on bikes even with children and it’s always an interesting time. A few of the wonderful finds we came across while exploring were the stone garden, Peaks Island honey and the private cottage art studio painted with glorious life sized flowers.
The stone garden is breathtaking. It’s a huge portion of rocky beach covered in various stone formations crafted by the previous visitors to the island. I highly recommend taking some time to build your own sculpture and watch others build theirs. It’s a beautiful and ever-changing gallery of stone. Amazing!
If you can find your way to Trefethen Avenue, located close to the ferry dock and Brad’s Bikes, you’ll no doubt come across the studio of Margaret Richards, painter and crafter of delightful pansy jewelry. The home has become an outdoor canvas for the resident artist, with the foundation painted in colorful array of flowers. It’s magical!
Not far from the studio at the end of Island Avenue we came across a quaint roadside table of honey made on the island at the Peaks Island Honey Company.
Totally self serve with an “on your honor” mason jar. Honor, isn’t that a beautiful thing? For just $4.00 you can bring home a bit of the island. I dare you to keep your fingers out of the jar on the ride home! I will mention that I’ve been told by a helpful gent that the makers of this fine honey are seasonal residents, so you’ll have to be sure to grab plenty of it in-season!
All around Peaks Island residents are a fantastic array of warm folks who all are very kind to its visitors. In my experience, they are inviting and peaceful and are more than happy to make your acquaintance and welcome you to their little island. While riding along the roads I found all of the drivers to be most courteous for those of us who don’t bike daily and may get a little off kilter every so often and the older folks seem to really love children. We did not pass one single resident who did not greet us as we went by. The island residents seemed to have tapped into a truly good life and it shows.
A great and traditional way to finish up your trip is a glass of wine and tapas at Joan’s Landing. The staff at Joan’s Landing are all so friendly and don’t mind when their guests loose track of time watching the sun set over Casco Bay. Save some time at the end of your trip for this storybook ending to your perfect day.
Safe travels to you,
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