The view from Jonesport, Maine: an authentic, ungentrified lobstering village on the down east coast

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For a taste of the real, ungussied-up Maine, loop down to Jonesport and spend a day or two immersed in a real lobstering village. hilary Nangle photo. Jonesport is a bona fide, way-way down east Maine lobstering village with a salty disposition and a stunning location. Not too many tourists other than birders and escape artists veer off Route 1 on Route 187, which loops down 11 miles to the village, then back up another 11 miles. Ahhh, but it’s worth it if you’re seeking some elusive vision of the real Maine. Yup, Jonesport doesn’t get much more Maine or more real… as long as you’re not looking for the gentrified version.

With the closing of the Harbor House in late 2012, there are no B&Bs still in biz. Independent sorts can book one of Dorothy Higgins’ Cranberry Cove Cottages, two second-story apartments furnished in cottage style, each with kitchenette; pets are welcome. Rates begin at $125 and decrease with length of stay.

Lobster rolls, fried seafood, burgers, and Gifford's ice cream are available at Bayview Takeout on Beals Island, Maine. Hilary Nangle photo.The only option for food, other than the grocery store, is Bayview Take Out on Beals Island, and a great option it is: fried seafood, excellent lobster rolls,  decent burgers, and Gifford’s ice cream, all very reasonably priced, if not downright down east cheap!

Jonesport is a lobstering community in down east Maine, but it's also great for birders who want to visit Great Wass Island. Hilary Nangle photo.Bayview is a great stop if you’re en route to the Nature Conservancy’s magical, 1,576-acre Great Wass Island Preserve for hiking or bird watching. The preserve is home to rare plants and even rarer coastal peat bogs, and its varied habitat makes it rich in birdlife. Also on Great Wass is a wonderful private seaside and woodland garden created and maintained by retired botany professor; it’s sometimes open to visitors.

See the lobster boats up close as well as islands, including Mistake Island, home to Moose Peak Light, with Coastal Cruises aboard the Aaron Thomas with Capt. Laura Fish; rates begin at $200 for two for a three-hour cruise. Fish’s brother, Harry, is a certified dive master, so if you want to see what’s below, book a dive; rates begin at $75 pp, with a minimum of two divers.

Watch seaweed being harvested in Jonesport, Maine. Hilary Nangle photo. Although best known for lobstering, Jonesport is also home to other aquaculture operations. Hang out down by the harbor to watch harvesters return with boats filled with almost to the point of sinking with seaweed.  Arrange in advance to tour Mooseabec Mussels, which processes and distributes wild-harvested Maine mussels to stores such as Whole Foods. Tours are available Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., You can also purchase fresh mussels and quahog clams here.

Don't miss the Jonesport Historical Society's new and growing museum in Jonesport, Maine. Hilary nangle photo.And don’t miss the new historical society museum, a work in progress in an 1896 building that remained in the same shipping/seafaring family until donated to the Jonesport Historical Society. Among the treasures are thousands upon thousands of original ledgers, day books, letters, and receipts dating back to 19th century. Volunteers are just beginning to move artifacts into the museum, but ask for a tour and get them talking, watch the taped interviews with local longtimers, and you’ll be entertained for an hour or longer.

If the open sign is flying, don't miss the Maine Central Model Railroad in Jonesport, Maine. Hilary Nangle photo. A few other updates for readers of my Moon series Maine or Coastal Maine  guidebooks: Moose-a-bec, the duplex harborfront apartments down the street are no longer an option. Also closed are The Sardine Museum (health issues, hoping it reopens), Norton of Jonesport puffin tours, The Lighthouse Cafe, and Tall Barney’s, the latter an institution for decades–the infamous liar’s table has moved to the gas station/convenience store and been reborn as the puzzle table. Sad to report that Buzz Beal, creator of the Maine Central Model Railroad, has passed, but his wife is still operating it with volunteers; do stop in if the open sign is flying out front.


 

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. LIKE. once a person spends some time in our part of Downeast, it is difficult to be satisfied with the down-state version of Maine for long.
    thanks so much for your unvarnished article, Hilary!

  2. The Moosabec Video /Convenience Store and Gas Station on Main Street also has the best fresh crabmeat salad sandwiches in town. If you are lucky, the friendly owners Darlene and Byron or their great staff may even have a biscuit for your dog when you stop in. Please note the duplex harborfront vacation apartment rental on Old House Point is open with new owners, William and Letitia Look. The property has a fabulous water view and lovely gardens, with your own kitchen, laundry room, living room and bedrooms. Contact them at HarborView Rentals, 207-497-2621.This special Downeast community is a great place to visit and an even better place to live. Thank you for noticing us Hilary.

  3. Thank you Hilary for your honest description of Jonesport, and for the nice photos. Just a reminder that Cranberry Cove Cottage rates start at $125.00 for one night, $112.50 for 2 nights and $100 per night for a minimum of 3 nights. Spacious ocean front, efficiency apartments with kitchenettes, dining areas, fireplaces, free use of kayaks, and 16 acres of nature trails featuring a pond with 100 foot wide beaver dam!

  4. Our family of four absolutely loved this place and will definitely come back for future visits. First, the cottage was awesome and justifies the price by itself considering the view, plush furniture/bedding/equipped kitchen/decor/etc. Frankly, this should be $225/night when you add..
    1. Kayak usage for both a pond or the bay
    2. Total Peace & Quiet
    3. Trails & birding opportunity – saw several new birds
    4. Warmth and hospitality of the owners
    5. Stargazing is amazing
    6. Grilled steaks 1 day, steamed clams another, and burgers and dogs another day on the property
    7. Played with friendly dog blue
    8. Did smores at the outdoor fireplace next to the pond
    9. Used the picnic table with umbrella
    10. Swung on the awesome swings
    11. Did laundry at no cost – supplies were on site too
    12. The TV has real cable channel selections
    13. The internet is fast! Able to do work and stream videos.

    You will not find a better Maine experience in our opinion.

  5. Glad you folks enjoyed your stay in Jonesport. I am a lobster fisherman and I moore my vessel at the Jonesport Marina behind the Harbor House. If you desire lobster, crab, clams fresh off the boat daily then please contact me. I will beat any price! Capt. Jason Alley, F/V Exaspiration 207-598-6701.

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