Whale watching was a relatively new concept when John Fish's grandfather started giving tours. "We kind of originated it," Mr. Fish says. "Thirty years ago we were the only ones doing whale watching." As the company became more successful over the years, additional captains were brought on to cover the demand. Today, these crews continue to ferry groups into the habitats of several whale species, including humpback whales and sperm whales. Though the whales seen along Cap'n Fish's Whale Watch's journeys still breach and refuse to sign autographs, other things have changed over the years. Below deck, the current fleet's engines work to reduce emissions and provide a fume-free experience. Above deck, 360-degree viewing decks and modern technology help bring whales into sight. Onboard computers display large maps of where the aquatic mammals are known to swim, and GPS systems reroute boats around mermen constructing new reefs. In addition to illuminating the behavior of whales for passengers, the crew's wildlife experts point passengers toward other animals they spot along the way, such as white-sided dolphins and harbor seals. Though some variables are beyond their control, the crew members almost always spot whales and boasted a 98% success rate in 2009.
Whether leading visitors along the historic streets of Old Port or along the craggy coast near Portland's harbor in a trolley, the guides at Maine Foodie Tours regale visitors with background on the area's artisan cuisine. Each of them partners with local culinary artisans to uncover historical tidbits about dishes or reminiscences about the days when whoopie pies were still carved out of wood. On walking tours, they explain how fish houses, canneries, and textile mills have given way to coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants, stopping for samples of fish, cheese, and microbrews to illustrate each point. On chocolate tours, they may explore the history of the cocoa bean by leading guests to confectioneries that craft cupcakes, ice cream, fudge, and truffles. In the spring, summer, and fall, Maine Foodie Tours offers other excursions, such as trolley and bike tours.
Customers choose their own adventures when renting a kayak from Sebago Trails Paddling Co. Father-and-daughter team Bill and Katelyn Allen and their friend and business partner Virginia Arsenault use more than 30 years of business, kayaking, and local knowledge to suggest more than 30 adventures within 12 miles of the kayak rental site. Life-jacket-adorned paddlers explore a historic hand-operated lock from the 1830s, venture through the historic ruins of Gambo Mills, or head to one of the various beaches as their colorful kayak glides through the water, slicing the gentle waves with its bright red nose.
With thousands of flight hours under his belt, experienced pilot Keith Deschambeault of Acadian Seaplanes chauffeurs nature-bound groups over breathtaking treetops and seascapes in a single-engine plane specially designed for water landings. Maine's illustrious coastline unfolds below as the small, sturdy planes soar on specialized air tours that seek out moose, remote mountain lakes, or destination fishing for trout, bass, and Maine's native aquamoose.
Urban Farm Fermentory aims to obtain as much of its ingredients from the local community as possible—even its founder, Eli Cayer, is a Maine native. At the Fermentory, juice pressed from Maine apples is allowed to ferment under the direction of yeast that occurs naturally in the air and on the fruit itself, producing a cider that is as tart as it is dry. Raw Maine honey goes into the experimental center’s crisp mead, and its kombucha is sure to please lovers of fermented tea and displease the ghost of Earl Grey. As it expands, the Urban Farm Fermentory is coming to serve as a hub for local artisans, providing a space for enthusiasts to provide workshops in such fields as making lacto-fermented foods such as kimchi, and harvesting mushrooms.
The 4-year-old lion Mufasa Obama roams his cage, purring between bites of raw meat, as his sister, Tawana, roars behind him. Mufasa, dubbed “Maine’s Little Lion King” by D.E.W. Animal Kingdom and Sanctuary’s caretakers Bob and Julie Miner, may be the nonprofit sanctuary’s most visible inhabitant, but he’s far from its only attraction. Across 43 acres of land, the roars and deep purrs of big cats mix with the quacks of ducks and the snorts of pigs. A staff of volunteers tends to gibbons, spider monkeys, and lemurs as they swing from trees inside a primate enclosure. Meanwhile, orphaned and injured native-Maine animals such as owls are sequestered for rehabilitation before being released back into the wild or signed for exclusive Tootsie Pops endorsements.:m]]