With an 85º forecast, there’s no better place in Maine to be than on the ocean. Especially after the “spring” we endured, we weren’t going to pass up a perfect seaside day. A picnic on an island sounded ideal, so off we went.
There are many great things about being based in Portland, but the access to Maine’s natural beauty is likely our favorite perk. We met the 10AM mail boat at the Casco Bay Lines Ferry terminal and made our way to the front deck of the boat. Many people ride the mail boat for an enjoyable lap around Casco Bay, but, after offloading cargo — everything from postcards to new golf carts — at the islands along the route, we were planning on hopping off on the last stop of the line for our picnic adventure.
The coast was socked in. The fog hung low with palpable moisture in the air, and swirled overhead in the light breeze. Our world stretched no further than 100 yards from the boat, and the harbors of Little Diamond and Great Diamond came out of nowhere as we plowed along through the murky white haze. The first signs of change came as we started to cross towards Chebeague— the sun began beating down through the fog, and within minutes the great fog bank was reduced to a few spindly tendrils swirling above the water. We continued northeasterly towards our destination.
Cliff Island is among the outermost islands in Casco Bay and has the smallest population of any of the year-round islands in the bay. From an aerial perspective, the island looks like an “H”, with beaches lining both sides of the central part of the “H". With our bags full, we made our way down the dirt road in search of the perfect perch. Packed nicely in our Sea Bags Navy Anchor Expandable Top Tote we fit our lunch menu, cameras, and of course some towels for a pre-ferry swim. The overflow flowers and drinks nestled perfectly in the Casco Bay Bucket Beverage Bag because, when the local flowers are in bloom, they travel with us everywhere.
The tides were low so we opted for the north facing beach, where we set up on the rocks. Our spread was simple — a Stonewall Kitchen smorgasbord so to say. This approach has become a favorite simply because no two bites are alike. The olive oil crackers were the perfect base for some local cheeses, cured meats, and toppings — Cam always loves their red pepper jelly, while I savor the salty-sweet combo the fig and walnut butter brings to the table. Pickled veggies are somewhat of an addiction of mine and I was thrilled to try the dilly asparagus. Let’s just say, they didn’t last long.
To celebrate the spread, we brought along the newest addition to Maine Craft Distilling’s canned family — the Italiano. It brings me back to my days working on a farm in Italy, where we would celebrate most evenings with a spritz — a simple split of Aperol and Prosecco. This rendition uses their Alchemy Gin to give a Negroni-like twist to the refreshment. It hit the spot under the beating sun.
With bright blue sky overhead and not a cloud in sight, the sun was beating down hard. By the time we got to the whoopie pies we had baked that morning, the frosting had melted quite a bit. The flavor was still intact, but the frosting oozed out onto our fingers as we ate. It was nothing a dip in the ocean couldn’t rinse off.
There wasn’t much time to spare as we wrapped up our meal, but knew our picnic adventure wouldn’t be complete without a brief, brisk swim. We made our way past the sandy section and through the seaweed where we met the lapping sea. A quick 3-2-1 and then a run and dunk was the perfect sendoff to our island adventure. We made it to the ferry dock just as the boat was arriving. Reclaiming some seats on the front deck, we settled in for a relaxing ride home.
Reflecting on the day, there was no shortage of appreciation for the natural beauty, incredible amenities, and wonderful brands that make this coastline thrive. We’re grateful for our partnerships with Maine Craft Distilling, Sea Bags, and Stonewall Kitchen that made this excursion a success! Thank you for joining us on our Maine adventure. Stay tuned for more!