What’s black and white and flies? My favorite seabird, the Atlantic puffin. They’re a cuter version of penguins. No offense to penguins everywhere. You’re pretty cute too.
Maine is one of the nesting grounds for Atlantic puffins and the only place in the states that you can see them. A visit with the puffins had been on my bucket list for many years.
We settled on a trip to Machais Seal Island, where you can get up close and personal with the puffins. Fun fact: this little speck of an island is also the only disputed land between Canada and the United States. Who wouldn’t want to claim ownership of a tiny island covered in puffins?
This trip takes serious planning. You can’t go on a whim. The nesting season is short, running from May to August, and only a couple of boat companies make the trip to the Island. One runs out of the US and the other from Canada. You have to get your tickets in January when the weather is cold, raw and snow filled while hoping the date you pick is warm, clear and beautiful. It’s a risk. Tickets sell out almost immediately.
We booked our tour through Bold Coast Charter Company out of Cutler Maine. The post on their website indicates they’ve already sold out for their summer 2020 tours. I can’t stress enough that you have to book early.
After a bit of a rush to get to the dock in time for the departure, we settled on the boat under glorious blue skies and warm temps. Still, we were bundled under sweatshirts as the boat headed out to sea. The air is always much cooler out to sea.
After landing on the island, we were guided up to the lighthouse where we were divided into smaller groups, as only a certain number of people can go at a time.
We were waiting by the outside patio of the lighthouse for our turn to head to the bird blinds. We’d been instructed to use a tern stick held high above our heads if we needed to use the outhouse which was located down a short path. The white plastic stick was painted yellow on the end. After watching the first few people attempt the trip, while the flying terns bombarded them aggressively, my husband made sure to grab a stick before heading down himself.
When it was our turn to go to the bird blind, we followed our guide along a the wooden path. The island is also a a nesting ground for the previously mentioned terns, so you cannot walk off path. A short distance from the light house, there are bird blinds scattered throughout the rocky island edge.
We headed inside our assigned bird blind. The wooden box had openings on the front and side where you could slide up the wooden covering to get a view of the puffins. We each picked a spot and opened up our respective viewing areas. We were immediately were bombarded with clusters of puffins in every direction. It was mesmerizing. I think the best way to appreciate it is through some of the many pictures that we took. Below is a puffin slide show.
The entire trip was perfect. We stayed in Lubec and also visited Campobello Island across the border. We got a stamp on our beer trail map with our visit to Lubec Brewing Company for pizza and beer. We made it to West Quoddy Head Light at the easternmost point of the contiguous United States. It was a perfect Maine getaway and it had puffins!
Why does this bring me bliss? They’re puffins! I think it’s tied to my love of new experiences which I talked about in a previous post. It was a truly unique and memorable day and also an extremely Maine experience, which are my favorite kind.
Have you ever gone on a puffin tour?
I’m participating in a Blogging A-Z Challenge for April 2020. I will be posting new content every day this month except most Sundays. Each post is associated with a letter of the alphabet, starting with A and ending with Z. My theme for the challenge is Bliss. To read more of my A to Z posts from this year, click HERE.