Cape Porpoise, Maine | Kennebunkport’s Quiet Coastal Destination

4.75 avg. rating (93% score) - 4 votes

We were still a few weeks shy of the summer solstice, but our late-spring weather was bordering on balmy as Jim and I headed to Cape Porpoise, Maine — a small fishing village on the southern coast — earlier this month. Although I grew up in neighboring Kennebunk, we would be exploring Kennebunkport as tourists, courtesy of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, which had graciously offered to host us for the weekend.

Wend your way along Pier Road toward Bickford Island.

Wend your way along Pier Road toward Bickford Island.

Brenda Darroch

“Where exactly is Cape Porpoise?” you may be wondering. Wend your way along Route 9 East for approximately two miles beyond Kennebunkport’s bustling Dock Square, and you’ll land in this scenic little hamlet. This area is considered the quiet side of town, but travel past the village and through the gates of Hidden Pond — located in a 60-acre wood — and peaceful seclusion takes on a whole new meaning. So much thought has been put into infusing the guest experience with a sense of serenity that even the bungalow we were to call home for the next two nights had been aptly dubbed “Tranquility.”

Aah, tranquility.

Aah, tranquility.

Brenda Darroch

How to describe the Hidden Pond bungalow experience? The brainchild of visionary real-estate-development duo Tim Harrington and Deb Lennon, it’s like a rustic summer camp wrapped in stress-melting layers of modern luxury. Private outdoor showers, two pools, complimentary beach cruiser bikes, and nightly bonfires — complete with s’mores — are but a few of the amenities that induce that home-away-from-home vacation feeling.

Enjoy an evening bonfire at Hidden Pond.

Enjoy an evening bonfire at Hidden Pond.

Brenda Darroch

Relax poolside at Hidden Pond.

Relax poolside at Hidden Pond.

Brenda Darroch

One of the amenities at Hidden Pond is the complimentary beach cruisers.

One of the amenities at Hidden Pond is the complimentary beach cruisers.

Brenda Darroch

We could have happily lolled the day away at Hidden Pond, lounging poolside or exploring the roads that twist through the resort, but before we knew it, Schuyler was at our door to shuttle us to lunch at the Tides Beach Club. Ranked best seaside inn by Yankee Magazine in 2012 and situated just a stone’s skip from Goose Rocks Beach, TBC offers an array of fresh, local seafood that will delight any palate. With ocean breezes drifting through the open windows, Jim and I debated over what to order; we both craved the seared shrimp and Maine scallops, but ended up combining that entrée with the roasted lobster. A delectable start to our weekend of indulgence.

Goose Rocks Beach has some of the softest sand in Southern Maine.

Goose Rocks Beach has some of the softest sand in Southern Maine.

Brenda Darroch

Seared shrimp and Maine Scallops at The Tides Beach Club.

Seared shrimp and Maine Scallops at The Tides Beach Club.

Brenda Darroch

Roasted Maine lobster at The Tides Beach Club.

Roasted Maine lobster at The Tides Beach Club.

Brenda Darroch

Once lunch was over, we were back in the shuttle being zipped down to the docks of Arundel Wharf in the Port to board the schooner Eleanor for a two-hour sail along Kennebunkport’s craggy shoreline. Captain Rich and his crew pointed out local landmarks as Eleanor carried us toward the tip of Cape Porpoise for an oceanside view of Goat Island Light. Gliding past the mansions that dot Ocean Avenue, it’s easy to envision this area as a rich man’s playground, but the lobster buoys bobbing on the waves tell the story of the hardworking Mainers who make their living harvesting the sea.

Captain Rich shares a bit of local history as we glide along the waves aboard the Schooner Eleanor.

Captain Rich shares a bit of local history as we glide along the waves aboard the Schooner Eleanor.

Brenda Darroch

The schooner Eleanor.

The schooner Eleanor.

Brenda Darroch

Boats bob on the waves in the Kennebunk River.

Boats bob on the waves in the Kennebunk River.

Brenda Darroch

A big lunch and a two-hour tour of the coast could only be followed up by one thing: a nap on the daybed built for two on our bungalow’s screened in porch. While others in our group took advantage of the many guest amenities offered at Hidden Pond, we dozed to a chorus of frogs calling to one another from across the pond.

With our stomachs rumbling once again, we prepared for dinner. Had it not been booked for a wedding reception, Earth, Hidden Pond’s farm to table restaurant, would have topped our list for dining options. Next time we’re in town, we’ll be sure to make reservations.

You can’t visit Maine without ordering a lobster dinner, and no trip to Cape Porpoise would be complete without stopping at Nunan’s Lobster Hut. This family-run restaurant has earned myriad accolades for its no-frills, lobster-in-the-rough dinners. Before you go, brush up on your lobster-cracking technique by reading Terri Nunan’s expert advice on how to eat a lobster.

Nunan's Lobster Hut has been a family-run business since the 1950s.

Nunan’s Lobster Hut has been a family-run business since the 1950s.

Brenda Darroch

The Wayfarer Restaurant has long been a favorite breakfast joint with locals and visitors alike. The food is good, prices are reasonable, and this place may have the most personable wait staff in all of Kennebunkport. (Full disclosure: My niece Brie and her best friend, Bailey, are both working there this summer.) The Wayfarer is also open for lunch and dinner, but if you want to indulge in an evening cocktail, be sure to bring your own.

The Wayfarer Restaurant is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

The Wayfarer Restaurant is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

Brenda Darroch

With a few hours to spare, we decided to stroll from the center of Cape Porpoise along Pier Road to the town wharf. It’s an enjoyable jaunt, filled with fishing boats nodding on their moorings or running aground on a mudflat, depending on the level of the tide; scores of hydrangea blossoms pushing against garden gates; and clapboard Capes bordered by impeccably maintained lawns.

Hydrangeas line the walkways along Pier Road.

Hydrangeas line the walkways along Pier Road.

Brenda Darroch

Tides can change drastically.

Tides can change drastically.

Brenda Darroch

American pride along Pier Road.

American pride along Pier Road.

Brenda Darroch

The pier anchors Bickford Island, which connects to Cape Porpoise by a causeway. Those in the know head here to grab a bite to eat, dig for clams, or enjoy the scenic vista. There’s a clear view of Goat Island Lighthouse, and plenty of benches on which to perch as you breathe in the scent of beach roses and gaze out at the sea.

Perch on a bench and enjoy a view of the Cape Porpoise Harbor.

Perch on a bench and enjoy a view of the Cape Porpoise Harbor.

Brenda Darroch

The Cape Porpoise Pier offers an optimal view of the harbor.

The Cape Porpoise Pier offers an optimal view of the harbor.

Brenda Darroch

Goat Island Lighthouse

Goat Island Lighthouse

Brenda Darroch

Of course, the ocean air is notorious for stimulating the appetite, so we headed to The Ramp, casual counterpart to Pier 77, to sate our hunger. Had we arrived earlier, we would have found seating inside, totally missing out on the al fresco dining experience. The patio, which overlooks the harbor, is outfitted with Adirondack chairs with arms wide enough to accommodate a bevy of plates, and that’s where we chose to enjoy our lobster rolls.

The Ramp Bar and Grill is the casual counterpart to Pier 77>

The Ramp Bar and Grill is the casual counterpart to Pier 77

Brenda Darroch

The lobster rolls at the Ramp did not disappoint.

The lobster rolls at the Ramp did not disappoint.

Brenda Darroch

The view from the patio at the Ramp Bar and Grill.

The view from the patio at the Ramp Bar and Grill.

Brenda Darroch

Our weekend in Cape Porpoise, Maine, wrapped up far too soon for our liking, but we left feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

Brightly colored signs point the way to Cape Porpoise attractions.

Brightly colored signs point the way to Cape Porpoise attractions.

Brenda Darroch

 

Comments
  • My father was from Stockton Springs, Maine. He was born in 1915 in Sunshine, on Deer Isle, ME. He would talk about what the area was like as he grew up. I was through Maine at 10 years old and could still see awesome small towns with working water wheels. I love your magazine! Even though my dad has passed on, it keeps me closer to him. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  • Randi

    Oh how I miss Maine. Born and raised there, now living in S.C. There is absolutely no place like Maine.

    Reply
  • Sarah

    The first half of these pics/places are not in Cape Porpoise. Hidden Pond is in Goose Rocks, and the Eleanor is in Kport.

    Reply
  • Marianne

    I grew up in Cape Porpoise,my home was on Ward rd. nunan’s was a every Fri. Night religion of our family’s the Brendla’s. My brother and I made many trips to Goat Isle as kids,what a playground! Both my mother and brother ashes were spread in the inlet in front of the bench in your photo,I will one day go home again as my brother,and mom.planning a trip in Aug. Of this year,and can’t wait! A trip to the cape,no one will forget.thank you for the beautiful photos of home

    Reply
  • I spent 27 years at Fortunes Rocks, Biddeford, Maine. My grandchildren grew up on the beautiful Fortunes Rocks Beach in the summer. We loved spending time at the Cape Porpoise Pier watching the fishing boats come in. Eating at Pier 77 and the Ramp. We always spent time in Kennebunkport. I miss this beautiful area as I had to sell my home.

    Reply

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