What to Expect on the
Bold Coast National Scenic Byway

Visitors are welcomed to this far-flung world to learn, share, and enjoy the daily rhythms of living, working, and playing in the Bold Coast of Maine.

A Bold Coast experience provides a first-hand experience of a hard-working, hands-on culture. Communities are functional rather than flashy, and relationships are steeped in genealogical and geographical history. People are proud, resourceful, cautious, and humble just as much as they are quick with a witty comment and an invitation to join them for supper.

Visitors are welcomed unassumingly to this far-flung world, to learn, share, and enjoy the daily rhythms of living, working, and playing in the Bold Coast region of Maine. All it takes is patience, curiosity, and a casual conversation with a local for the visitor to begin discovering the hidden treasures, unique characters, and unforgettable experiences that make up the Bold Coast of Maine.

Working Landscapes, Working People

Travelers will witness accouterments of a working landscape in action as they travel about. The Bold Coast landscapes are filled with people and the tools of their trades. This is not a region of manicured lawns, freshly painted houses, or carefully landscaped businesses. Traps, drags, boats, engines, winches, trucks, tractors, fuel tanks, ATV’s, old appliances, buckets and boxes, stacks of lumber, piles of logs, containers of bait, and miscellaneous stockpiles of “useful stuff” are seen everywhere, sometimes neatly organized, but usually just right out there in a convenient location of the front dooryard, where it will be used eventually. Clam and worm diggers work the mud flats early and late according to the tides. Fishing boats roar off from their moorings before sunrise.

Blueberry growers, loggers, and boat shops transport their oversize loads very slowly down the middle of the roads. The roads themselves reflect the focus on a working culture that relies on trucks and heavy equipment: potholes in spring, crumbling shoulders, muddy logging road intersections, tractor-trailers parked outside gas stations, and sharply winding narrow roads that must accommodate everyone safely.

West Quoddy Head light with woman sitting on picnic table in front

Cellular and Wireless Service

Although the Bold Coast region is rich in visitor attractions, the plethora of technologies and goods of the world are a bit harder to find in these parts. Many visitors appreciate the “unplugged” experience and come here specifically for quiet, solitude, and relaxation from the bustle of other parts of the world. For those who desire technology and shopping, never fear, they do exist, but like many things here, can require patience, and sometimes a little perseverance.

Most Bold Coast communities offer some cellular and wireless services. Community libraries offer free Wi-Fi, as do some Town Offices. Many local eateries also offer free Wi-Fi, as do most motels and hotels, and some private cottages.


Toilet facilities can be difficult to locate in the smallest communities, although during open hours most Town offices and libraries accommodate the public, and convenience stores and eateries are scattered along the entire byway route. Porta-potties are sometimes the only public option, offered up behind small gas stations, beside trails, and near municipal buildings. Check the Bold Coast Interactive Map for restrooms and Wi-Fi located in libraries and Town offices.

Shopping and Provisions

One thing the Bold Coast region is NOT is a run-of-the-mill strip with big box stores and shopping malls. So, if you didn’t pack your pajamas or your tent, you might want to stop in Ellsworth or Calais before heading too deep into the Bold Coast region. The local shopping experience focuses on either the basic necessities of life or provides a venue for creative genius.

Fun shopping opportunities are richest in Milbridge, Cherryfield, Jonesport, Machias, Lubec, and Eastport, where one will find antiques, gifts, art, local crafts, and local foods. A great number of home-based “cottage industries” are sprinkled all along the way, so be sure to watch out for road signs and do check in at area Chambers of Commerce for business listings that match your interests. Most “cottage industry” owners are delighted to receive visitors, give spontaneous tours, and tell as many stories as can be told in a short amount of time


As with many places, the weather can be fickle along the Bold Coast, and it can also vary greatly depending on if you are on the water, on the shore, in the woods, or five miles inland. The best advice is pack for sun, rain, wind, and fog, carry several layers while hiking or boating, and expect to be surprised (and perhaps even delighted) by what you encounter! If you don’t mind a little damp, the landscape is actually quite stunning on stormy days, and even in the fog.

Although the Bold Coast region is known for its beautiful scenery and outdoor adventures, there are some pretty great opportunities for indoor entertainment in the form of fish hatcheries in East Machias and on Beals Island, and museums and galleries throughout the region. Libraries, restaurants, galleries, whimsical shops, and education and art centers also provide opportunities to learn about the region, meet local people, and explore regional cuisine and arts on a slightly gloomy day.

Harrington Buoy Art