Maine, the most sparse state east of the Mississippi, entices both outdoor sporting enthusiasts and ocean-loving landlubbers to sample this unspoiled rustic paradise. Here vacationers can raft, sail and sunbathe in relative solitude along the state’s over 5,500 miles of rocky coastline and 32,000 miles of rustic freshwater rivers and streams.

RIDING THE RAPIDS

Adventure travelers seeking a natural adrenaline rush can venture over to the Kennebec River, a 12-mile stretch of river considered to be the most popular whitewater destination in the east. This is no kiddie ride as the minimum suggested age is 12 to ride the upper Kennebec’s rushing Class II to Class V rapids. To protect the environmental quality of these rivers, the State of Maine limits the number of rafters to under a thousand per day.

Area activities to enjoy post-rafting include paintball, kayaking, biking, fishing, hiking, rock climbing, moose and bird watching, floatplane, ATV and pontoon boat tours, and skydiving. Also, die-hard whitewater rafters wanting another day or two of rough water action can check out the Penobscot and Dead Rivers.

While campsites and cabin tents are available for those who enjoy the experience of roughing it, area outfitters offer a range of accommodations including B B;’s, log cabins, guest houses, inns, and motels. Also, RV hookups are available. Many outfitters have a restaurant on-site and one of the outfitters even brews their own beer.

While the daily dam releases guarantee whitewater action from May through October even during the driest of summers, the last week in August and the first three weeks in September can be particularly delightful. The summer tourists have left, the kids are back in school, the black flies have left for the season and the fall foliage is starting to emerge. A whitewater trip on the Kennebec River will average $80 to $130 with the lower prices offered during this offseason.

MID-COAST MAINE SAILING

Those wishing to experience Maine’s scenic coast from the sea can choose from one of 14-owner operated historic tall ships. Throughout the sailing season, this fleet gathers for fun and fellowship at events including the Schooner Gam, Windjammer Days, the Great Schooner Race, Windjammer Parade, Music Festival, the Camden Windjammer weekend and the WoodenBoat Sail-in. All guests on Maine Windjammer cruises are instructed on the “Leave No Trace” behind a policy that is intended to minimize the environmental impact of visitors to these isolated islands. Also, “Leave no Trace” awareness workshops and certification will be offered to every guest who sails in June.

Passengers who want an old fashioned workout can help hoist and furl the mainsail and foresail, coil the lines, raise the anchor or take a turn at the helm. Those desiring a more leisurely vacation can spend their time reading, knitting, swimming, guitar playing, relaxing, fishing, or helping to prepare the hearty meals. Once the ship has anchored for the night, adventure seekers can take a rowboat, kayak or skiff to explore the uninhabited islands and small towns that dot the Maine coastline. Sing-a-longs, poker games, and storytelling sessions round out the evening’s activities.

The Maine sailing vacation season extends from mid-May to mid-October with prices ranging from $395-$875 for a three- to six-day cruise, all meals included. One of the many highlights of a six-day Maine Windjammer vacation includes a traditional lobster bake. As each Maine Windjammer is independently owned and operated, prospective passengers should check with each captain for their policies regarding children, pets and other pertinent matters.

RUGGED RELAXATION

Vacationers desiring a bit more R R; can stop off at the Cliff House, a full-service resort and myethosspa professional medical spa located on the South Coast of Maine. The more athletically minded can get a work out in the fitness center and outdoor pools, as well as exploring opportunities in the area for tennis, jogging, surfcasting, golf and sea kayaking. Check out the whirlpools or one of their many relaxing spa treatments such as the Atlantic well-being therapy, a holistic experience that includes a stone massage using stones from nearby Bald Cliff, body and face treatments, and a seaweed wrap. Following a holistic spa treatment, guests can venture on to the spa terrace and walk the rock labyrinth. The sound of pebbles under one’s feet combined with the crashing ocean waves as one follows the circular path of the labyrinth allows spiritual seekers to focus and reconnect with nature.

Now fully refreshed and rejuvenated, visitors return to reality knowing that the magic of Maine will soon entice them to return.