Perhaps best known as the summer retreat of the Bush family, the town of Kennebunkport and neighboring Kennebunk are located on the Kennebunk River, some 30 miles north of Portsmouth and nearly the same distance south of Portland.
The river mouth is flanked by a pair of stone jetties, and caution should be used on the outgoing tide, especially when the current opposes an easterly wind. Mean low water depth in the channel is around 6 feet. Some 500 feet north of the river mouth, on the east bank, is a small public dock for temporary tie-ups. This dock provides access to several shops and a few restaurants south of downtown; however, there are no public bathroom or shower facilities.
Continuing north past daymarker “R12” and approaching buoy RN “12A,” you’ll notice the manicured lawn and buildings of the Nonantum Resort, which offers moorings and a dinghy dock for its boating guests. The family-friendly resort is also home to an acclaimed restaurant, 95 Ocean. A few hundred feet upriver of the resort, the orange-topped pilings and roof of Chicks Marina come into view. The transient-friendly Chicks was once known as the boaters’ party spot, thanks in large part to the personality of its former owner and namesake, but is now a much quieter but no less convivial place. The marina really rolls out the welcome mat for visiting boaters, and has a long face dock that can handle yachts up to 165 feet. Fuel, water, Wi-Fi, electric, ice, a ship’s store and pretty much any type of service you might need are also available.The staff can also give you a lift into town, although it’s not a long walk.
Adjacent to Chicks is the other full-service marina on the river — the Kennebunkport Marina — which also welcomes seasonal and transients year round.
Both Chicks and the Kennebunkport Marina are a short stroll into downtown Kennebunkport/Kennebunk and its many shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants. If you travel with kayaks aboard, don’t miss the opportunity to paddle upstream past the bridge and explore the bucolic upper reaches of the river. This trip offers a pleasant respite from the frenetic atmosphere of downtown.
For a fascinating and entertaining tour of the surrounding area, hop aboard the Intown Trolley for a look at Kennebunkport’s interesting historic sites, including Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church, the Colony Hotel, various ship captain’s homes, the Customs House, the St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery, Gooch’s Beach and, of course, the Bush estate.
WHERE TO DOCK:
Chicks Marina (207-967-2782, chicksmarina.com) Just a short walk from Dock Square, Chicks Marina is continually upgrading and can accommodate vessels up to 165 feet.
Kennebunkport Marina (207-967-3411, kennebunkportmarina.com) Offers protected slips, full mechanical
services, a ships store, and powerboat and canoe rentals.
WHERE TO EAT:
The Clam Shack (207-967-3321, theclamshack.net) A tiny, immaculate fish shack specializing in fried clams and lobster rolls.
David’s KTP (207-967-8225, boathouseme.com) Contemporary cuisine focused on local Maine ingredients by head chef David Turin.
95 Ocean (207-967-4050, nonantumresort.com) Locally sourced ingredients with specialties like blueberry BBQ ribs, lobster cakes and seared scallops.
Federal Jack’s (207-967-4322, federaljacks.com) Federal Jack’s brewpub located across the Taintown Bridge is open for lunch or dinner (brewery tours available).