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Where to See Puffins in Maine: Your Guide to the Best Places

puffins on a rock in maine

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.

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. The Atlantic Puffin is one of four species of puffin, and is the only one found on the Atlantic Coast (the others are found in the Pacific).

These small, pigeon-sized, adorable birds have orange legs and feet, a black back and head with a white face, and an iconic multicolor beak. The Atlantic Puffin lives on the open ocean the majority of the year. The bird is a small fish eater and is an excellent swimmer, using their webbed feet as flippers. The Atlantic Puffins come together to breed in colonies on our coast and islands in early summer.

Like many species, the Puffin has struggled due to historic over-hunting for their feathers and as a source of food – both the birds and their eggs. Puffin is still enjoyed seasonally in Iceland, Norway, and the Faroe Islands. By 1900, there were only two colonies of Puffins left in the Gulf of Maine.

Steven Kress and the National Audubon Society established Project Puffin in 1973 to tackle the problem. The Project is focused on reestablishing a Puffin Colony in MidCoast Maine at Eastern Egg Rock and Seal Island. Initially, 2,000 pufflings (chicks) from Newfoundland were relocated to the Maine MidCoast to reestablish the bird here. As of 2023, there are more than 1,300 mating pairs established pairs in MidCoast colonies.

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.

Take a Tour!

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 Cap’n Fish’s website for dates, times, and tickets. Our past guests have loved their trips and come back with great stories!

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.

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 the 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).
  • CBS Sunday Morning also covered rescue efforts in Iceland in 2018.

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.

view of the Sunrise Suite

Book a Stay With Us

When you book any of our elegant accommodations, you can always look forward to our lovely amenities and and top-notch service.

Complimentary breakfast is always included in your stay, and our onsite restaurant, BLUE, means you’ll never need to worry about where to go for dinner.|

 We can’t wait to host you at Grey Havens Inn!

Close up of frutti de mare at BLUE

Enjoy Dinner at BLUE

BLUE offers you delicious American cuisine in a fine dining setting at our inn. The menu features seafood, steaks, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. Our seafood chowder is widely recognized as being spectacular!

Before or after dinner (or both!), we welcome you to enjoy cocktails and the ocean view on our wrap-around porch. It’s a fantastic way to end a great day in Maine.

Pemaquid Lighthouse Maine Northside View

Explore the MidCoast

Georgetown Island is centrally located in MidCoast Maine, and the Grey Havens Inn makes an ideal basecamp for you while exploring the area.

We are just 1.5 miles from the sandy beaches of Reid State Park, minutes from the iconic FIve Islands Lobster Pound, and short drives to scenic towns and shopping, thought-provoking museums, great food & drink, and a multitude of outdoor activities. 

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