With a wide variety of fresh, delicious seafood like lobster, clams, and scallops, it’s no wonder Maine is a seafood lover’s paradise. However, in recent years, another type of seafood has been gaining popularity worldwide: Maine oysters.
What make them standout are their unique texture and flavor profile, which is often described as briny and slightly sweet, with a clean, crisp finish. It’s no wonder they’re a hot ticket item among chefs and foodies!
We have Maine’s isolated islands, pristine waterways, and rugged peninsulas to thank for growing some of the best oysters on Earth.
What if I told you that you too can enjoy these tasty oysters just by following an oyster trail, the first of its kind in the US, and that at the end, you can win free swag?
Read on for a guide to the Maine Oyster Trail including tips to start planning your own oyster adventure! If you’d rather leave the planning to me, I also share a 4 day oyster trail itinerary later for you to follow. 😉
In this blog, I share…
- What is the Maine Oyster Trail?
- The 4 coastal regions of Maine that make up the Maine Oyster Trail
- Oyster Experiences You Can Have on the Maine Oyster Trail
- Different Maine Oysters You Can Taste
- How to Create Your Oyster Trail Itinerary
- How to use your “Oyster Passport” to earn free swag
- Premade 4 Day Oyster Trail Itinerary
- Where to Stay Along Maine’s Coast
- New England Travel Planning Resources
[This post was originally posted March of 2023. Updated April of 2023]
What is the Maine Oyster Trail?
Thought you’d never ask. 😉
Modeled after Maine’s “Beer Trail”, the Maine Oyster Trail takes visitors on a culinary journey along Maine’s coast to explore different oyster regions. Not only do you get to enjoy delicious, fresh oysters, you also have access to fun adventures along the way while supporting local oyster farms and suppliers in Maine of which 80 are individually operated and family owned.
If that’s not enough to get you excited, seafood lovers will love earning free swag from collecting “check-ins” through Maine Oyster Trail’s digital “oyster passport”.
Where is the Maine Oyster Trail?
The Maine Oyster Trail showcases the top local oyster farms, seafood dealers, shell shacks and restaurants spanning four regions from Kittery to Acadia National Park:
- Maine Beaches
- Portland & Saco Bay
- MidCoast & Islands
- Downeast & Acadia
Oyster Experiences You Can Have on the Maine Oyster Trail
Your adventure begins with a self-guided tour on Maine’s coast. At local oyster farms, restaurants, and seafood markets, you’ll get to choose from a variety of oyster-centric activities such as tastings, shucking lessons, tours, sailing, kayaking and boating outings. You’ll even get to eat your heart out at Maine’s annual oyster festivals.
You’ll even get to meet the interesting people behind the oysters! These oyster farmers and suppliers are passionate about their work and happy to share their knowledge with you. There’s so much to learn about these fascinating molluscs!
Now the question is, what oyster experience are you in the mood for? 🙂
- Farm Tours
Take a tour with an oyster farmer who will guide you through the process of harvesting oysters on their floating farm. Many will even teach you how to shuck!
- Shuck Trucks
Think: food truck.. but with oysters! You can find them across Maine at places like breweries and beaches. Ask for their schedule and follow their social media to see where they’re going next.
- Raw Bars (Restaurants)
It’s always a special treat when you get to sit at the counter and watch the oysters being shucked right in front of you. Some chefs like to showcase the unique flavors and textures of Maine oysters in their dishes.
- Boat & Kayak Tours
Boat charters are an easy and comfortable way to tour a farm while kayak tours are fun and adventurous! Depending on the tour, you even get to taste the oysters directly from the sea!
- Buy Oysters
If you think that oysters are too rich for your blood, buy direct! It saves you money and earns the farm a higher price since you’re not purchasing through a restaurant which charges 2 – 3x more.
Grab a bag or two and head to the water for a lovely beach picnic or, have a dinner party at home. All you need is a shuck knife. Some farms have them for purchase or, you can buy them off Amazon.
Different Maine Oysters You Can Taste
Along the Maine Oyster Trail, you’ll find a wide variety of different oyster to taste, each with its own unique flavor profile and texture. Don’t be afraid to try different ones until you find your favorites! 🙂
- Belon Oysters
These have a distinctively briny flavor with a metallic finish, and are known for their large size and deep cups.
- Pemaquid Oysters
These oysters are small and sweet with a slightly salty finish, and are often described as having a cucumber or melon-like flavor.
- Glidden Point Oysters
These oysters have a rich, creamy flavor with a slightly nutty finish, and are known for their plump, meaty texture.
- Nonesuch Oysters
These oysters are delicate and mild with a clean, briny flavor, and are characterized by their deep cups and plump meats.
- Winter Point Oysters
These oysters have a crisp, clean flavor with a hint of sweetness and a briny finish, and are prized for their small size and delicate texture.
To learn about Maine oyster cultivation and read about my adventures on the Maine Oyster Trail, here!
Exploring the Maine Oyster Trail
Now it’s time to get on the trail! Below, I show you how to create your own itinerary based on the regions of Maine you want to explore and the types of oyster experiences you want to have. A video tutorial is also available below.
I also created a predefined 4 day itinerary for you if you’d rather relax and let me do all the work. I don’t blame you. 😉
How to Create Your Oyster Trail Itinerary
Step 1: First things first, head to the Maine Oyster Trail website and sign up for a free account. This lets you track your how many places you’ve hit via an “oyster passport” and work your way up to earning FREE swag! (US residents only)
How fast can you go from “Oyster Newbie” to “Maine Oyster Connoisseur”? 😉
Step 2: Next, we’re going to create an itinerary! On the website, find “Trip Planner” or, click here. Then, choose the oyster experiences and regions you want to explore.
Step 3: A list of oyster places will appear, add the ones to hit! They will appear in list form.
Step 4: Finalize your itinerary
You can also move the places around to depending on what order you’ll be going. When you’re done, hit “finalize oyster trail”. You’ve just created your own custom “Oyster Trail Itinerary”, yay! 🥳
Step 5: Give your email
Provide an email where the itinerary will be sent. You can also print it or share it with a friend. This itinerary has the location, hours, contact info and special instructions of each place. Not all oyster spots are open year round, so be sure to inquire.
Step 6: Book your experiences and make reservations
The trail doesn’t book them for you, you have to reach out to the places on your itinerary (farms and tour operators require advance contact to arrange tours or purchase oysters directly).
Video Tutorial: How to Create an Oyster Trail Itinerary
Get on the Maine Oyster Trail!
Once you’ve visited a spot on the oyster trail, open your oyster passport back up by logging into your account on the Maine Oyster Trail website.
Each time you go to a place on the trail, look for their 4 digit code to put into your oyster passport. It will look like this: (I’ve blurred it, think the folks at Maine Oyster Trail would be mad otherwise lol)
If you can’t find it, ask an employee to direct you to it. Then, enter the code or, scan the barcode and it’ll take you the oyster passport. Once you reach a certain number of oyster spots, you can earn rewards like a beanie or cap with the Maine Oyster Trail logo, drink koozie, stickers, canvas tote bags and a grand prize!
If you’d rather be spontaneous and have me pick your oyster trail, here are some of my suggestions laid out for you in a 4 day itinerary.
Your 4 Day Oyster Trail Itinerary
Working west to east, we’re going to explore each of the regions on Maine’s coast. If you’re short on time, you can skip some, or combine them for fewer days.
Day 1 : Explore Maine Beaches
Start out in the region where Maine’s stunning beaches are. Head over to Robert’s Maine Grill in Kittery for an oyster tasting is waiting for you. A selection of Maine oysters will be paired local craft beer or wine for you to enjoy.
Day 2 : Explore Portland & Casco Bay
Next up is Portland, Maine’s largest city (which will be baffling once you’re there). This seaport city has no shortage of adorable coastal charm or yummy oyster bars. One of the most popular is Eventide Oyster Co., who is known for their innovative takes on classic New England dishes, like the Lobster Stew or their Brown Butter Lobster Roll. They take same day, walk up reservations. I highly recommend putting your name down first, then exploring the city. Everyone wants to bite into this place, the average wait time I’ve experienced is 3 hours.
If you can’t get in, try Highroller Lobster Co. which takes Maine lobster rolls to a whole new level. Lobster enthusiasts can try their wide selection or customize it themselves with sauces and add-ons like lime mayo, lobster ghee, avocado, and bacon.
Day 3 : Explore Midcoast & Islands
Drive an hour and a half from Portland, continuing your journey up the coast to Midcoast Maine, known for its charming fishing villages and picturesque seaside towns like Damariscotta, which is known as the “oyster capital of Maine”. Here, 80% of Maine’s oysters are grown. Thanks to its cold and nutrient-rich waters, the oysters here are considered to be some of the best in the world.
A great experience is taking a Damariscotta River Cruise, where you’ll pass several floating oyster farms and learn about oyster harvesting as you slurp on fresh oysters from those very same farms.
Another one of my favorite oyster experiences in this region was with Andy Rogers, co-owner of Jolly Roger in Edgecomb and oyster shucking champion!! I challenged him to show his skills and he did not hesitate! You didn’t hear it from me. 😉
Then, he made us garlic herb oysters grilled to perfection overlooking the beautiful Damariscotta River. I could not have asked for a better day.
While you’re in the area, don’t forget to visit Maine’s famous Glidden Point Oyster Farm, also in Edgecomb. In addition to tours and tastings, you can also shuck your own oysters on their outdoor deck. What could be more perfect?
Day 4: Explore Downeast & Acadia
Wrap up your Maine Oyster Trail journey in the Acadia area.
I know what you’re thinking. What does a treasured national park have to do with Maine oysters? If you have time, head to Acadia National Park, arguably one of the most beautiful places in Maine.
If being surrounded by nature is more your style, pick up a shucking knife, a jar of mignonette and a bag of oysters from Bar Harbor Oyster Co. and find a place nearby to have a picnic on the water. Or better yet, take them home to eat in the comfort of your own home.
How to Get Around the Maine Oyster Trail
If you’re planning on hitting up multiple oyster places in each region, your best bet is to get around by car. If you’re going to a major city in each region, you can also take a train and then take an uber to each spot.
Where to Stay on Maine’s Coast
From boutique hotels to Inns, here are some of my favorite accommodations along Maine’s coast. A lot of them are close to the places I mentioned above. I’ve given you options for Hotels.com and Booking.com for the best hotel rates.
If you’re a Marriott Bonvoy member and find a cheaper rate outside of Marriott 24 hours in advance of your stay, you can even get a price match guarantee + 25% off the matching rate plus points for booking with them.
- The Westin Portland Harborview, Portland
- AC Hotel Marriott, Portland
- The Inn on Mount Desert, Bar Harbor
- Atlantic Oceanside Hotel, Bar Harbor
NEW ENGLAND TRAVEL RESOURCES
Ladies, for a Summer fashion wardrobe for New England, check out my packing guide.
Best Travel Insurance
Accidents happen. Make sure that you’re covered on your next trip. Compare travel insurance here.
How to Travel with a Chronic Illness
There are ways to travel even with a chronic illness. Check out my chronic illness travel tips and how I travel despite having Lupus.
Best Hotel Price Comparisons
Earn Travel Perks & Free Trips
Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. Read my guides on how to earn points toward free hotel stays, flights, car rentals and more with Marriott’s brand partners! Travel smart, get the most for your money.
Compare prices for car rentals, trains and flights
Discover best transportation deals to and around Boston with Omio here.
Every woman should be able to date without being the next victim. Check out my safety tips guide for women.
That’s a Wrap!
From tasting the fresh and delicious oysters to meeting the passionate growers and farmers, you’ll have an unforgettable experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for oysters and the Maine oyster industry. So, grab your friends and family and hit the road to discover the Maine oyster trail for yourself. It’s a journey that you won’t forget!
Have you ever been on the Maine Oyster Trail? Would you go? Comment below…
Thank you so much for being apart of this journey with me! I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.
Until next time… keep it real.
You might also like: