Lubec’s Inn on the Wharf delivers authentic taste of Maine’s seafaring heritage

Lubec's last sardine-processing plant found new life as The Inn at the Wharf. The Inn on the Wharf, in Lubec, is sited in a former sardine processing plant. ©Hilary Nangle
The Inn on the Wharf, in Lubec, is sited smack dab on the shores of Passamaquoddy Bay, in a former sardine processing plant. ©Hilary Nangle

If The Inn on the Wharf, in Lubec were any closer to the shoreline, I could cast a fishing line out my window. Instead, I gaze at lobstermen hauling traps and fishermen unloading their catches, listen to boats chug-chug-chugging, and inhale brine-scented air. All while watching some of the nation’s biggest tides ebb and flow.

The wharf part of Inn on the Wharf, Lubec, Maine. ©Hilary Nangle .IMG_0415
Watch lobstermen unload their catches at The Inn on the Wharf in Lubec, Maine. ©Hilary Nangle

It’s not just the location on the eastern shore of the nation’s eastern-most town that makes this lodging special, but also the story behind it. In the mid 1900s, 23 sardine processing factories operated in this waayyy downeast town.

By the end of the century, only one remained: Lubec Sardine Company Factory B. When its final whistle blew in 2001, it signaled the end of an era.

From sardine plant to boutique inn

Five years later, Victor and Judy Trafford spied the oceanfront property with a new wharf and to-die-for views over Passamaquoddy Bay and purchased it. While debating what to do with the derelict factory, the Traffords began buying lobster and crabs, and later eels and periwinkles, from local fishermen. They used the factory’s basement-level holding tanks for sorting and storing, before sending the catches to market.

The views are one reason to stay at The Inn on the Wharf. ©Hilary Nangle
The public areas at the Inn on the Wharf open to two levels of decks descending to the wharf, all with eye-candy views over Passamaquoddy Bay. ©HilaryNangle

Next they renovated the factory’s upper level into modern guest accommodations. The 11 rooms, some with private decks) and two-bedroom/two-bathroom apartment, opened in 2009 ($100-150).

A spacious central area offers tables and a kitchen as well as access to shared decks. Guests can arrange to take a group or private yoga class with Judy in the purpose-built yoga studio. The inn also rents bicycles and sea kayaks for exploring the area. Whale-watching tours aboard the Tarquin depart from the wharf.

Enjoy lobster inside or out at the restaurant at The Inn on the Wharf. ©Hilary Nangle
The restaurant at the Inn on The Inn on the Wharf in Lubec serves some form of lobster for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. ©Hilary Nangle

The Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant, in the factory’s former boiler room, serves some form of lobster with every meal, from lobster benie to a lobster dinner.

An authentic downeast Maine experience

The overall experience is an authentic immersion into Maine’s maritime culture and heritage. Be sure to ask for a tour of the processing facilities on the wharf level.

Note: Do expect to rise early, not only from the chug of lobsterboats but especially from one of the nation’s earliest sunrises.

From the Inn on the Wharf, it’s a short walk into downtown Lubec, with a handful of independent shops and restaurants. Pedal or drive over the International Bridge to Campobello Island, New Brunswick, home to Roosevelt-Campobello International Park. (Campobello is part of Canada, so you’ll need a passport or passport card. Once you cross the bridge, you’re on Atlantic time, one hour ahead of Eastern time, so if it’s 10 am in Lubec, it’s 11 am on Campobello.)

At sunset, gaze over Passamaquoddy Bay from the Inn at the Wharf in Lubec. ©Hilary Nangle
The sunsets over the Atlantic–yes, the Atlantic–are spectacular from the Inn at the Wharf in Lubec. ©Hilary Nangle

NOTE: Post updated July 31, 2017, after returning from a two-night stay.




  1. I just bought “Coastal Maine” thinking of a trip to the Down East region next year. After reading your guide we’d like to travel and explore Route 1 from Milbridge to Lubec, enjoying many of the places and activities along the way as you describe.

    We’re thinking of spending two or three nights in Machias and three or four nights in Lubec, enjoying those areas.

    Would you agree with this or have other thoughts?

    All of our Maine trips the past 20 years have been to the Camden area and Bar Harbor.

    Sam Henderson
    Macon, Ga

  2. Sorry for taking so long to reply; between a deadline for a new edition of Moon Maine and a conference, this got buried. I’d suggest two nights in Machias, three or four in Lubec (don’t forget your passport so that you can visit Campobello Island), and one or two in Eastport.

  3. We stayed at the Inn the week before this update. It was wonderful. If you want a quiet restful slice of real Maine this is it.

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