A red-and-gold sky softly illuminates Belfast Bay at sunrise. Photo by Joe Devenney

Belfast arrived a little late to the party that saw many Maine ports change from sleepy, commercial ports to pleasure-boat shangri-las in the 1980s. But sometimes the late arrivals can make a pretty grand entrance, and the city of Belfast, tucked away in the northwest corner of Penobscot Bay, is certainly worth a visit by boaters looking for a respite from Maine’s more crowded harbors.

 Live Zoomable Map
 Getting There
 Dockage, Moorings and Service
 Launch Ramps
 Boat and Kayak Rental
 Things to Do and See
 Where to Eat
 Where to Stay
 Getting Around
 Fishing Information
 General Information

Belfast Chart

Once a major seaport and shipbuilding center, Waldo County’s seat and chief municipality fell on hard times in the 1960 and ‘70s. Up until the 1980s it was home to a foul-smelling chicken-processing plant, and the waterfront in general was decidedly industrial. The city was pretty rundown and not very inviting to boaters (or anyone else).

SAT map Belfast

Today, the poultry plant and industrial look are gone, replaced by an attractive waterfront that is seriously interested in drawing more recreational boaters. And Belfast as a whole displays renewed pride in its nautical heritage.

You can rent a slip or mooring from the harbormaster or drop anchor just outside the harbor and leave your dinghy or skiff at the city docks, at the foot of Main Street. From there you can make the easy stroll to downtown, where you’ll find some interesting and unpretentious shops and restaurants. Note that Belfast’s Main Street is nothing like tony Camden or Rockland Harbor. However, the city has managed to maintain the best of its past, including a variety of historic homes and buildings. Perhaps best of all, most of the stores and restaurants in downtown Belfast are less than 5 blocks from the city docks.

Belfast is still a working harbor, home to numerous commercial vessels. Photo by Joe Devenney

The former Route 1 automobile bridge, now reserved for pedestrians, makes an attractive ambling way from drowsy downtown Belfast to highway-oriented East Belfast, just across the Passagassawakeag River. (Warning: pronunciation of this river should only be undertaken by locals; play it safe and simply refer to it as the “Passy”.) Located about a block from Main Street, the old bridge spanning the river is popular among walkers and fishermen. And speaking of walking, keep a eye out for the numerous tour panels comprising the “Museum of the Streets”—a series of plaques with old photographs that explain sites of historic importance around the city.

North of the footbridge, the Passagassawakeag turns into a quiet little backwater that seems as if it belongs to more distant ports in far eastern Maine, not the heavily visited Midcoast area. It’s an ideal spot for kayaking, rowing or exploring in a dinghy. Or maybe bagging a striper.

A calm morning in Belfast Harbor. Photo by Joe Devenney

Transient boaters can usually find a slip or mooring at the city landing or Front Street Shipyard, which purchased the Belfast Boatyard in 2012. Photo by Joe Devenney

The Passagassawakeag River flows into Belfast Harbor below the Rte. 1 bridge. Photo by Joe Devenney