Atlantic puffins are one of the most easily recognized birds in the world, but did you know that they live exclusively in the North Atlantic Ocean? The next time you visit Maine, don’t miss out on the opportunity to see these beloved birds in action! Read on to discover everything you need to plan the perfect bird watching trip, including educational resources, interesting facts, and where to see puffins in Maine. Afterward, find more outdoor adventure in our free Travel Guide. Our local guide is full of recommendations for whale watching, sailing charters, kayaking, and more.
Introducing the Puffin
At first glance, you may think that the Atlantic puffin is a pint-size penguin. Yet, despite some similar features, the puffin and the penguin belong to separate families. Puffins fly, and penguins do not. In addition, puffins are residents of the Northern Hemisphere while penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere. These small, adorable birds have orange legs and feet, a black back and head with a white face, and an iconic multicolor beak. The Project Puffin Visitor Center in Rockland is a great place for people of all ages to learn about the puffin and experience hands-on exhibits.
The Best Place and Time to Enjoy Puffin Watching in Maine
The ocean islands of Maine are the only nesting sites for the Atlantic Puffin in the United States. Eastern Egg Rock is one of Maine’s most popular islands for puffin watching; it’s the best spot in the midcoast Maine area, Eastern Egg Rock is only six miles from the shore, making it extremely accessible. Here, you may also spot bald eagles and even seals. Puffin watching season in Maine only lasts four months out of the year. Trips to view typically run from May through August with the best viewing in June and July. About the second week of August, the birds head out for the season.
For those who wish to view puffins on Eastern Egg Rock, trips head out from nearby Boothbay Harbor – we highly recommend Cap’n Fish’s Audubon Puffin Cruise. The cruise is narrated by the National Audubon’s Puffin Project so you get the history of puffins and the Eastern Egg Rock restoration directly from the project’s staff. Please note that Eastern Egg Rock is only visible from a boat. Boats run frequently are are well appointed. Visit their website for dates, times, and tickets. Our past guests have loved their trips!
Other Popular Maine Sea Islands for Puffin Viewing
Eastern Egg Rock isn’t the only Maine sea island where puffins live in the spring and summer. Although some of these islands are not as accessible as Eastern Egg Rock, puffins make them all worth the journey.
- Seal Island and Matinicus Rock
- Machias Seal Island (United States/Canada)
- Petit Manan off the downeast coast
The Maine Tourism site indicates that puffin tour boats depart from Jonesport, Cutler, Bar Harbor, Millbridge, Stonington, Rockland, New Harbor and Port Clyde depending on which puffin colony you wish to visit.
Fun Facts & Tips for Your Trip
- When you lay eyes on your first puffin, his size may surprise you. Atlantic puffins are as tall as a quart of milk and weigh about as much as a can of soda. Remember to bring binoculars on your puffin tour!
- Look into your binoculars, because you’re in for another treat! Atlantic puffins can carry an impressive amount of fish in their beaks at once. In fact, they usually catch about 10 fish or so per hunt.
- If you want to learn even more about Atlantic puffins, make a trip to Project Puffin Visitor Center in Rockland, ME. The puffin center is about 60 minutes away from Grey Havens Inn.
- CBS Sunday Morning visited with the puffins in 2023 and posted this nature video featuring many of these cute birds that you will enjoy (may require login).
Stay Near it All
After a marvelous day of puffin viewing, head home to Grey Havens Inn for the ultimate Midcoast Maine experience. Our Georgetown boutique hotel is perched high on a bluff with panoramic ocean views. Spend time relaxing on our wrap-around porch while gazing out over the beautiful, natural harbor and tree-covered islands.
When you book any of our elegant accommodations, like The Tides Room, you can always look forward to the best amenities, packages, and top-notch service. Complimentary breakfast is always included in your stay, and our onsite restaurant means you’ll never need to worry about where to go for dinner. When you are ready to plan your spring/summer getaway, check our availability and book your stay. We can’t wait to host you at Grey Havens Inn!