Maine in May

Imagine stepping out onto the porch of your little cottage, feeling a warm breeze flutter by, gazing at a cloudless sky, and taking in the crisp scent of salt in the air. You’ve just dreamed up the weather on the Maine coast in May!

Maine in May is warm but not the warmest, and thus not as crowded as Maine can be. While there may be fewer things to do, the rates are lower and it’s cheaper to visit. Maine is a beautiful state with a wonderful coast, and taking a trip there in May is definitely worth it.

Best Guidebooks

We’ve experienced different seasons of Maine over the last two decades and helped countless tourists enjoy their visits. Read on to find out exactly what you need to know to make your stay epic!

Is May a Good Time To Visit?

Maine in May – Overview

May is a good time to visit Maine. The trees typically leaf out in mid-May and the moderate temperature and scarce rainfall allow you to explore the state’s awesome outdoors. However, you may find the ocean temperatures too low to swim as often as you’d like.

While the weather in May is warm, this is far from the warmest weather window in Maine, meaning the crowds are smaller and vacation rates are lower, but also that there may be fewer activities to engage in.

Tip: If you are looking for more season tips, read our complete best time to visit Maine guide!

Tour Tips for May and Hotels

Not everything is open in May. Check out at least one of the three activities (see above), that are available. We have done them all!

💡 Tip: Book your May accommodation as soon as possible to save money! Save the link and search for your preferred town: Maine Hotel Deals (via Booking.com).

Weather

Temperatures/weather in Maine during May.

May in Maine brings mostly pleasant conditions with average highs ranging from 54°F to 68°F (12-20°C). The weather remains relatively clear and sunny over the course of the month and it rains about 3.5 inches (9 cm).

While these are averages, May is a transitional time, so weather can vary depending on the part of Maine you’re in and the time of the month.

If you are on the coastline, you’re likely to have cold ocean water and a nipping breeze at night but pleasant days in general.

Unlike the Warm Coast, Inland Maine Is Generally Cool in May

If you’re in the far north, the weather is much more characteristic of Canada in May, with very cool temperatures but calm winds. We locals don’t mind the changes, but visitors may be shocked by the rapid changes in different parts of the state.

Early vs. Late May l Costal Town Temperatures
Regardless of the week in May, visit Portland and the Portland Head Light!

Average Temperature Highs in Ogunquit:

  • Early May: 59°F (15°C)
  • Mid-May: 62°F (17°C)
  • Late May: 68°F (20°C)

Average Temperature Highs in Portland:

  • Early May: 58°F (14°C)
  • Mid-May: 61°F (16°C)
  • Late May: 67°F (19°C)

Average Temperature Highs in Bar Harbor (Acadia National Park):

  • Early May: 54°F (12°C)
  • Mid-May: 57°F (14°C)
  • Late May: 63°F (17°C)

Good to know: In May, sometimes you might get fog in coastal Maine on an otherwise sunny day. Also, it won’t be as cold at night as it is inland, nor will it warm up as quickly.

Typical May daily temperature progression in Rockland (Maine):

  • Early Morning (7 AM): 49°F (9.4°C)
  • Afternoon (2 PM): 59°F (15°C)
  • Night (11:30 PM): 50°F (10°C)

While the temperature of Maine in May is appropriate for enjoying the state’s wonderful outdoors, the changes in temperature over the course of the month can make packing difficult.

Your attire at the beginning of the month should mainly consist of something like a light sweatshirt and pants. But you should also be ready to change into shorts and a t-shirt in case of a warm spell. We’ll cover that in greater detail later in the article.

Rain

If there is one predictable thing about the weather in Maine in May is that there’s little rain. Statewide, an average of 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) of rain falls, but this doesn’t tend to occur in large, heavy bursts.

While you’ll occasionally get a rainy day, most of the rain showers in May subside within a few hours.

Swimming in May | Water Temperature

Ogunquit beach view.

One of the somewhat unpredictable things about the weather in May in Maine is the ability to swim. While there are sometimes days warm enough to warrant a quick dip in the ocean, even we locals find the water much too cold for swimming most days.

In May, the average ocean temperatures fluctuate between 45°F and 50°F.

Maine Guides and Hotels

We highly suggest getting the Moon Coastal Maine Guide. Tip: Buy the paperback version if possible. It’s one must-have guide we always carry with us on our trips to coastal Maine.

💡 Tip: Check out the best hotel deals in Maine for May (save your preferred hotels), via booking.com:

What To Wear/Packing List

Acadia NP in Maine on a sunny afternoon in May

If you visit Maine in May, you’re going to want to bring a variety of clothes. On a typical day, you should wear light pants, a t-shirt, and a sweatshirt. But you should also pack shorts for when it gets warm. You might also need a windbreaker for when you’re on the coast.

💡 A nice jacket may also be nice in case you’re dining out. This isn’t necessarily due to a level of formality (though there are some instances where this is the case) but more for comfort. Even so, most places don’t have a serious dress code.

Exactly what you should wear is really up to how comfortable you are in cold temperatures. If you’re from Canada, Denver, or another colder area, you might be just fine in a set of shorts. You might want a light jacket if you’re from Florida, the US South, or even the Mediterranean.

We locals are used to the cold weather, so you might see us out in shorts and a t-shirt, but you certainly won’t be turning any heads if you’re wearing pants and a shirt.

The most important thing you can do is wear layers to give you options to regulate your body temperature. If you don’t have lighter clothes and it gets very warm, you’ll sweat too much, and your clothes won’t keep you warm if it gets cold!

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It’s also helpful to have a light waterproof jacket or windbreaker, especially on the coast. The air is more humid on the coast, and you can also get an occasional blast of seawater that can get you wet.

Here is a full packing list of what you might want to bring with you:

  • Socks
  • Undergarments
  • Jeans
  • Khakis
  • Skirt
  • Polo shirt
  • Blouse
  • Long sleeve casual shirt
  • T-shirt
  • Sweater
  • Sweatshirt
  • Rain jacket
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Nice shoes
  • Shorts

How Busy Is May? | Crowds and Rates

It’s not that busy. Dining in Bar Harbor.

May is fairly busy in Maine, but since the temperatures are still somewhat cold, there are not nearly as many people as there are in June. The exception to this is Memorial Day Weekend when it gets very busy.

Typically, many tourist attractions don’t have that many people waiting in line, which is particularly true in the north of Portland. There is often still same-day vacancy at hotels and inns, though this often isn’t the case after Memorial Day Weekend.

Overall, if you’re trying to avoid crowds, May is a great time to visit Maine.

Is Everything Open In May?

McLoons Lobster Shack in Sprucehead Island – Google Maps Location 

By May, most restaurants, hotels, and attractions are open, with the exception of a few seasonal locations and groups that rely on the ocean.

Sailing Excursions: Most sailing excursions are still closed in May, as the operators typically start their tours on Memorial Day Weekend or later in June. This is because the water is still very cold, making it hard to enjoy a long day on the water. The occasional boat tour is open, however.

Selected sailing tours which are available in May:

  • Maine Boating Adventures – Located in South Portland, ME. Prices range from $50 to $150 per person. Open from April to October.
  • Schooner Olad – Located in Rockland, ME. Prices range from $50 to $150 per person. Open from mid-May
  • Portland Schooner Co. – Located in Portland, ME. Prices range from $50 to $150 per person. Open from early May.

As you can see, some sailing excursions are already open in early May or by mid-May. We highly recommend the Portland Schooner Tall Ship Cruise on Casco Bay (check availability) Their crew is awesome! You will have the time of your life!

Lobster Shacks: Some lobster shacks are open in Maine year-round, but by May, even the seasonal lobster shacks begin to get fresh lobster. May is when tourism groups begin prepping, so shacks start opening. Most of them are open in early May, some later.

Please find below our lobster shack tips and their opening times (subject to change):

  • Lobster Shack at Two Lights: Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
    Hours: Open 7 days a week from 11 am to 8 pm
    Season: from April 1st to late October
  • The Lobster Shack: Ogunquit, Perkins Cove, Maine
    Hours: Open 7 days a week from 10 am to 8 pm
    Season: from early April to late October.
  • The Clam Shack: Kennebunkport, Maine.
    Hours: Open 7 days a week from 11 am to 8 pm
    Season: from May 1st to October 31st.
  • Parson’s Lobster: Bar Harbor, Maine.
    Hours: Open 7 days a week from 11 am to 8 pm
    Season: from May 1st to October 31st.

Tip: From the famous Maine lobster rolls to classic boiled lobster, there is no better way to experience this delicious seafood than directly from a lobster shack.

Seasonal Gift Shops: By the end of May, most seasonal gift shops begin opening. You won’t find everything open, but many will be.

Black Flies and Mosquitoes

Perhaps the only bad thing about visiting Maine in May is that black flies are often out in full force. Black flies are the worst from the middle of May to the beginning of June, so you may need to contend with these insects.

Fortunately, the coastal areas in Maine aren’t affected by black flies as much as inland due to the sea breezes. I’ve found they’re not much of an issue directly on the coast.

Additionally, long sleeves and insect repellent are normally enough to fend off these monsters.

Things To Do in May

Hiking

Most hiking in Maine is open year-round, but by May, conditions are beginning to improve with most snow melting off the mountains. Some snow and mud may still exist but walks like the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, most of Acadia, and more, are in good condition.

Just keep in mind, that depending on the amount of snow that has fallen during winter and the spring melt, early May could still be muddy on some trails.

Park Loop Road, Acadia

An absolute must when visiting Acadia National Park is the Park Loop Road, which is open in May.

This 27-mile (43.5 km) drive takes you to the park’s best attractions and outlooks. Marvel at the crashing waves of Thunderhole, take a stroll around stunning Jordan Pond and enjoy the scenery.

Portland Head Light, Portland

Located just outside the city is one of Maine’s most iconic lighthouses. Accessible in May (it’s usually open year-round), a visit to the Portland Head Light is a rite of passage for any Maine vacation.

With a beautiful Atlantic backdrop, the lighthouse makes a perfect photo-op to begin your journey.

Brewery Hopping, Portland

Besides lobster and ocean views, Portland in Maine is also well-known for its incredible craft beer scene.

With 16 breweries to choose from, you’ll have no shortage of beers to try. Some of the most well-known breweries include the Shipyard Brewing Company and Allagash Brewing, both located in the city proper.

More about Portland later.

Whale Watching

The whale watching season in Maine runs from mid-May to late October. Since tour operators start their excursions either in mid-May or late May, early in the month is not yet a suitable time for whale watching.

If you are visiting anytime within the last two weeks of the month, we highly recommend booking a tour to see these amazing creatures.

You may spot Northern Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, and Northern Fin Whales. Maybe even a North Atlantic Right Whale, an endangered species with a very low population.

10 Best Coastal Towns to Visit | Things to Do in May

Cape Elizabeth Light, Maine

By the end of May, basically, everything is open in the coastal towns. That means you have a wide range of options for restaurants, shops, and tours to choose from in the towns along the coast.

You might be wondering which towns you should visit. We got you covered and offer unique insider tips for the 10 best coastal towns:

1. York

Maine

York is the southernmost coastal town in Maine we suggest visiting. That means, coming from Boston, you don’t have to travel that far if you’d like to see a typical seaside town. It’s an hour’s drive: Google Maps Route: Boston > York. Travelers describe York as a fun-filled, family-oriented summer resort town. While definitely not as big as Portland, York is one of the slightly larger towns along Maine’s coast.

Long Sands Beach & Nubble Lighthouse: While not as impressive as the golden sand beaches in Ogunquit (see below), the gray sand beaches in York are still great. A walk on Long Sands Beach leads you to a view of the remarkable Nubble Lighthouse at Cape Neddick. Not as iconic as the Portland Head Light (see below) but still one of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine.

Short Sands Beach is located downtown, with restaurants and shops right there. Plus, it’s perfect for a fun time with kids: York Wild Kingdom Zoo and Fun Park are at Short Sands Beach, as well as a bowling alley overlooking the ocean. Locals say York has a sort of carnival atmosphere with arcades at the beach and the amusement park area.

Special Food Tip: Visit Dunn’s Ice Cream Stand at Nubble Lighthouse at least once! We had one of the tastiest homemade ice creams we ever tried. Our recommendation: The blueberry ice cream.

Lobster Shack Tip: Drive the 10 minutes to Kittery and eat a lobster roll at one of the best shacks. Bob’s Clam Hut is open in May: Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery – Route from York

Tip: Don’t overlook the popular outlets in Kittery. They are also open throughout the year, and some offer nice discounts in the wintertime.

2. Ogunquit

Maine

Ogunquit is a fantastic year-round destination, but the first month for an unforgettable time for us is May.

The main attraction of this coastal town is the gorgeous beach with fluffy white sand. It is known as the most beautiful beach in New England and is worth visiting any time of the year.

Marginal Way Tips: This famous paved path is a must-do. It offers gorgeous scenic ocean and cliff views. There are dozens of benches if you’d like to rest. Get there early (around 9 AM) when visiting in on the weekends or on Memorial Day Weekend to avoid the crowds and to find a parking spot.

We prefer Perkins Cove (Google Maps). The parking lots at Marginal Way fill up quickly between spring and fall. However, even in the summer, you can enjoy almost solitude by starting the walk around even earlier at 8 AM. Alternatively, get there in the late afternoon, when many visitors already left.

Memorial Day Weekend: Ogunquit Beach gets busier in late May. Tip: Stay there one night, so you can get up early enough to avoid the crowds and parking hassle. Also, check the tide times for low tide, as it’s much more relaxed during low tide. At high tide, the beach can feel extremely crowded.

Stay One Night: We highly recommend staying at least one night in Ogunquit (in a gorgeous beachfront hotel or a resort) to dodge the crowds and explore the stunning beach and coastal area in solitude in the morning. Otherwise, it’s easy to day-trip Ogunquit from Portland (45 minute drive).

3. Wells

Maine

Wells is located midway between Ogunquit (see above) and Kennebunkport (see below) and is only a very short 10-12 minute drive from both towns. It’s smaller, without a nice downtown area, fewer shops, fewer restaurants, and fewer hotels. While the beaches are beautiful in Wells, locals say that Ogunquit is definitely better as far as impressive beaches go.

Wells in a Nutshell:

  • Nearby Ogunquit and Kennebunkport but smaller
  • Smaller and less touristy than Kennebunkport and Ogunquit
  • Fewer restaurants, shops, and hotels but cheaper rates
  • Great beaches but not as gorgeous as in Ogunquit

Best Lobster Rolls: We recommend driving a few minutes to Kennebunkport and eating at the excellent ‘Clam Shack’ (see below).

Pizza Tip: In case you already had enough lobster rolls, try the best pizza in Wells at Seacoast Pizza and Pasta

Tip: If you plan to visit in early May expect a quiet time with fantastic scenery. The best place to stay in the town is the Village by the Sea (via booking.com with price match). Their beautiful indoor pool and hot tub are perfect for relaxation after a walk at the beach.

4. Kennebunkport

Maine

Just a 20-minute drive from Ogunquit and a 30-minute drive from Portland, you’ll find this historic town with the typical New England charm.

Late May is a great shoulder season period for visiting here. You will enjoy pleasant weather without the heavy summer tourist crowds. Also, all the restaurants and shops are open, and almost every activity, from sailing tours to kayaking, is possible.

Activity Tips: The 15 best things to do in Kennebunkport via TripAdvisor

Kennebunkport vs. Ogunquit: Kennebunkport is located very close to Ogunquit (north of it) and offers similar beautiful beaches, also a great downtown area, shops, seafood restaurants, and the famous ‘Clam Shack,’ known as the best lobster shack on our planet, for quite a while. Locals say that Kennebunkport is classier while Ogunquit still has the ‘younger vibe.’

5. Portland

Portland is Maine’s cultural center and a vibrant city throughout the year. There is something to do in Portland every season. Visit captivating museums, explore attractions downtown, and the brewery scene, and eat lobster in the best restaurants,

Maine

Great Base: Portland is the best base if you want to enjoy food, shopping tours, and see the magnificent coastal scenery. It doesn’t offer as many outdoor and hiking options as other places along the coast.

Day Trips: Portland is also the perfect location for day trips to gorgeous coastal towns like Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, or Camden, as they are just nearby via a short drive (35-45 minutes).

Islands via Ferry: The ferry is an iconic and inexpensive way to visit the nearby Casco Islands, or just to view the stunning coastal scenery is a must-do activity. Check Casco Bay Lines for the schedule. They are operating in May.

Food Tip & Lighthouse: The restaurant with the tastiest lobster roll is Eventide! And don’t forget to see the historic and iconic lighthouse Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, which is probably the most photographed lighthouse in the whole world!

6. Boothbay Harbor

Maine

Boothbay Harbor is a year-round town and is great in May. There are enough restaurants and hotels open, even early in the month.

Boothbay Harbor is one of the tinier and less touristy coastal towns:

  • A beautiful harbor
  • No beach
  • Fewer crowds in peak season
  • Not as busy as Camden, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, etc.
  • It has a downtown area but is not as big as other coastal towns with those dozens of shops and galleries.

Must-Do Things:

Best Lobster: Visit Kaler’s Lobster directly in Boothbay Harbor (they are usually open from mid-May)! However, we also recommend that you either walk half an hour or drive the 6 minutes over to Robinson’s Wharf in Southport (open year-round). They offer excellent lobster and a great outdoor opportunity to watch the boats while eating.

7. Rockland

Maine

Rockland is located alongside Penobscot Bay. The best period to visit is from spring to fall, with May being a great time.

Like other mid-coast towns, Rockland is not known for its beaches, as the shoreline along this section of Maine’s coast is very rocky. That means you won’t find those beautiful long beaches here like in towns of Southern Maine. However, the views are just stunning!

Foodie Haven: Rockland is recognized as the one mid-coast town with the most restaurants, including the famous Primo: ‘A farm, with a restaurant at the edge of it’.

Things to Do: Visit the art museum, photograph the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, take a schooner (‘Windjammer’) sailing trip, and more: TripAdvisor – Best Things to Do in Rockland – Maine

Local Tip: Do something uniquely different: Visit the island of Vinalhaven with the Maine State Ferry Service in Rockland.

8. Rockport

Maine

Rockport is situated right between Rockland and Camden (10 or 5 minutes drive to each town) and is home to the historic coastal Samoset Resort. Rockport is smaller and less touristy. There are also fewer activities being offered.

Activity Tip: Since Rockport belongs to the Rockland/Rockport/Camden area, you’ll find at least one excellent sailing tour operator here: Schooner Yach Heron (an unforgettable sailing experience!)

9. Camden

Maine

Camden is a larger coastal town in Maine and can be visited year-round. However, May is a great time: You will ll find plenty of opportunities for eating and lodging.

Views and Shops: You’ll find truly captivating scenic views of the bay in Camden Hills State Park’s overlooks and in Camden itself along the coastline at any time of the year. If you’re looking for uniquely crafted items, visit the gift shops on the main street downtown.

A must-visit is Camden Harbor Park, with a gorgeous landscape design and a beautiful panoramic view of the harbor.

Special Tip: Visit Camden Library and take a stroll around it. It’s a beautiful building with an impressive view of the harbor.

Restaurants: Waterfront vs. Petter Otts? The Waterfront Restaurant is the perfect place for eating delicious burgers and, of course, lobster rolls. Tip: Wait for a table outside and enjoy the fantastic view while eating.

However, for lobster and other seafood, we recommend ‘Peter Otts on the water.’ It’s the perfect seaside restaurant, and the lobster is fantastic (first, eat a burger at Waterfront and then lobster at Peter Otts). Both restaurants offer lovely views. Visit Megunticook River Falls as well.

10. Bar Harbor

Maine

Bar Harbor is the gateway for all your explorations in Acadia National Park. Additionally, you can do so many things right in Bar Harbor: Eat fresh and tasty seafood, discover all sorts of shops and even art galleries, and explore the village environment.

Save the 3 Best Activities