By: Suzanne Gianattasio
Summertime for our family means heading to our cottage on Maine's Sebago Lake. This is the place we can all kick back, relax, play games, and make some wonderful family memories.
When our kids were little they were content to splash around near the shore and could spend hours digging in the sand. While they can still spend a fair amount of time swimming and diving from the dock, now that they are older (10 and 12 years old) it takes more to really entertain and excite them.
This past summer we've discovered a way to take our family fun up a notch by purchasing an awesome water tube. After looking at lots of options, we decided on an Airhead Shockwave water tube for three people so that both kids (and a friend!) can ride at the same time. And we've found some gorgeous out-of-the-way places to explore in the process.
In and Around Sebago Lake, Maine
The Sebago Lake Region is one of Maine's not-so-hidden gems, but within its borders lie some less-frequented coves and stretches of water that are great for tubing. Located just northwest of Portland, Maine, and just a bit over two hours north of Boston, Massachusetts, the Sebago Lake area is a great weekend destination for watersports of all kinds--and especially for some great tubing action.
With 29 miles of water to explore, you're sure to find a quiet cove where you'll have plenty of room for some all-out fun. We've spent countless hours exploring these lakes to find the best places for swimming, tubing, and an all around good time.
As the second largest lake in the state (number one is Moosehead Lake in northern Maine), you'll have lots of room for some great tubing. We like the northern shore of Sebago; with the often north or northwest prevailing winds you don't have to worry about big waves quite as much. When the wind picks up on Sebago, the waves can get BIG. That can be fun for older kids, so if that fits your family, head for the waves!
From the northern end of Sebago, you'll find many options for tubing. For a bit of open water and an exciting destination, head southeast toward Frye's Island. You'll have plenty of room for looping, sending your kids flying outside the wake. Once near Frye Island, you can opt to navigate the narrow channel, or even stop to jump off Frye's Leap--the lower ledge is great for kids; the higher ledge is only for real daredevils!
On your return, snake in and around the Dingley Islands for some fun and great island views.
Once on the northern shore, we like Witch's Cove; just big enough to circle comfortably, but nicely protected for your smallest family members to have fun.
Close to Witch's Cove is a beautiful sandbar at Sebago Lake State Park; perfect for a picnic lunch or a swim, it's a great spot for a break before heading up the river to your next tubing destination.
Songo River and Songo Lock
Leaving Sebago Lake from its north shore, and adjacent to Sebago Lake State Park, is the Songo River, where it's headway speed only. The river trip gives you time to relax and recharge before you next tubing adventure; the lower part is undeveloped park land, where wildlife is abundant.
My youngest likes the lazy ride up the river reclining on the tube; it gives a different perspective than from the boat, and you may spot white-tailed deer, great blue herons, or turtles as you pass by.
About two miles upriver is the historic Songo Lock. Built in 1830 as part of the Cumberland and Oxford Canal, this is the last remaining hand-operated lock in the US. Part of the State Park system, the rangers have sometimes let my kids help push the heavy wooden gates open--part of the fun of going upriver!
Brandy Pond is a small lake, but gives you some great options for tubing. At about three miles in length, even with wind the lake is safe for your youngest tubers. We like the northwest cove for smooth, calm waters where you don't have to worry about excessive waves or boat chop. Pass through the tiny Chute River under the Naples Causeway Bridge to Long Lake.
Naples Village sits on the south end of Long Lake and can be a bit busy. With four marinas in the downtown area, here's the place to fill up with gas and supplies for your trip up the lake. You'll also find two water sports shops, restaurants, and a beautiful boardwalk along the causeway and under the bridge, making a great side trip.
Back on the water, head up the lake toward Harrison, 11 miles to the north. Long Lake is less than a mile wide in places, but it broadens out in several coves and inlets along the way. The farther you get from Naples, the less boat traffic you'll encounter. Check out Mast Cove, about 3 miles up the lake on the west shore, Cape Monday Cove on the east shore closer to Harrison, and the waters near Salmon Point on the Bridgton side.
Whatever your favorite--quiet coves with water like glass, exciting wave action, or lazing through the river, the Sebago Lake area offers some of the best water tubing in Maine.