Now that Columbus Day has passed and the tourist season in Maine is over until the spring, it is an ideal time to explore the islands dotting Casco Bay. Daily service still runs throughout the winter on the Casco Bay Lines ferries, yet the price and crowds are significantly lower than during the summer. Before the temperature drops too much, we took a day to explore Peaks Island, just a 20 minute ferry ride from downtown Portland. Planning our trip on a Sunday, we were able to find free on-street parking close to the ferry terminal allowing us to avoid the pricey garage all together.
After picking up a few snacks at Hannigan’s Island Market, we headed to the Elementary School for a picnic and some down time. The kids had a blast exploring the many play structures, but we were also eager to explore the public beach farther down on Island Avenue. With a promise to return to the playground on the way back, we headed down the hill to the near-deserted beach, passing along the way a truck with the final state we needed to finish our license plate bingo game.
The quarter-mile beach had some great views of Portland as well as the nearby Diamond Islands. The biggest hit though was the beached dock taken out of the water for the winter. Not only did it provide a great spot for a snack, it also served as a makeshift runway for the younger fives as they barreled down the ramp and launched themselves in the air.
All in all, a ferry trip to an island in Casco Bay makes for a wonderful yet manageable adventure. With more islands to explore farther out on the line, we’re sure to be heading out again soon.