Into a Land of Superlatives: Kayaking Great Wass Archipelago (Maine)

Four miles to the southeast of my place in Addison is Jonesport. Across the high arched bridge over the Moosabec Reach from Jonesport is Beals. And to the south of Beals, extending far out into the Atlantic, is the Great Wass Archipelago.

At the center of the archipelago is Great Wass Island, a wild island of high granite cliffs and subarctic vegetation which has more than 1500 acres land protected by the Nature Conservancy.

Several miles of trails allow hikers to explore the interior of the island as well as several miles of shoreline along the eastern coast. Kayaking is the best way to explore the entire shoreline — as well as the other 50 or so islands that make up the archipelago.

Quite simply, for the sea kayaking adventurer, no other place in Maine compares to the Great Wass Archipelago.

Kayaking Great Wass is not for novices though, nor for the faint-hearted. Tides are bigger here. Exposure to open ocean means the seas are bigger too. The fog is thicker — and the distances (between islands, and back to civilization) are greater.

I led a guided tour of the eastern side of Great Wass Island earlier this summer. The day started clear, but as we headed south, fog began to move in off the ocean. We traced the islands and ledges east of Great Wass, sighting seals, osprey, eagles, and eiders. As we reached Mink Island, the fog thickened, and we altered our plan, which had been to continue to the southeast toward the lighthouse on Mistake Island. Instead, we headed southwest toward Little Cape Point on Great Wass. After lunch on a beach between Little Cape Point and Mud Hole Point, we paddled into Mud Hole (a pleasant place really) before retracing our route along Great Wass and Beals.

Two more days of paddling are scheduled for August 14-15 — and we still have openings. Please see for more information.

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One Response to Into a Land of Superlatives: Kayaking Great Wass Archipelago (Maine)

  1. ansacuta says:

    As a paddler in the Great Wass area for 25 years I can vouch for its beauty and wildness. There are cabins out on Great Wass at the warers edge available from Elmer and Marion Beal at 207 497 2232. This is a well kept secret. The Head Harbor Archipeligo is not for the novice paddler. In all my time spent out there I have never had a bad day on land or sea.I plan to go back there in the fall of 2009.

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