Best Peaks Island Golf Cart Rentals to Explore Island off Portland Maine

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Peaks Island Golf Cart Rentals are a great option when you’re exploring this picturesque island off the coast of southern Maine for a few hours or more. That way, you’ll maximize your visit, whether it’s a great day trip from Portland ME or you’re staying on Peaks Island. Keep reading to find out more about getting around Peaks island by golf cart, and what you’ll see when you’re on this delightful little island.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in Nov. ’21. I’ve updated it in October of 2023 to keep it helpful and up to date.

scenic view of the coast on Peaks Island Maine

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn all about Peaks Island, Maine and how best to see it, including:

Exploring Peaks Island in Peaks Island Golf Cart Rentals

If you’re headed to Peaks Island, a Peaks Island golf cart rental is a great way to get around. They are affordable, easy to drive, and electric. They will help you get around the island and maximize your day trip to Peaks Island.

Where Is Peaks Island, Maine?

map of Casco Bay showing Peaks Island location
Peaks Island is just off the coast of Portland ME

You’ll find Peaks Island, Maine just off the coast of Portland Maine. This small, picturesque island is a short ferry ride from the mainland, across from Great Diamond Island. It only takes about 20 minutes to get there by taking the Casco Bay Ferry. That makes it a perfect day trip, especially if you’re staying in Portland ME.

This charming island is part of the city of Portland, located 3 miles (4.8 km) from Portland’s downtown. It’s only 1.5 miles long by 1.25 miles wide, but offers an amazing coastal drive that circumnavigates the island.

Peaks Island is home to about 1,200 year-round residents, but the population swells to about 4,000 in peak summer season. The island has its own elementary school, library, and police station and is one of the most populated islands on Casco Bay — but you wouldn’t know it exploring.

You’ll also enjoy exploring each home-grown local business on the island, with plenty on offer for keepsakes and services. You can also explore other nearby islands, like Great Diamond Island, Little Diamond Island, Long Island, Chebeague Island and numerous others in Casco Bay.

Brief History of Peaks Island

In the late 19th century, Peaks Island was a popular vacation destination known as the “Coney Island of Maine.” Visitors would come to enjoy the variety of hotels, cottage rentals, theaters, and amusement parks.

During World War II, the island played an important United States military role. In fact, you can still explore the remnants of the island’s military history, from the WWII military fortification, Battery Steele, to the cement bunkers along the coastline, to the Fifth Maine Regiment Museum, which explores Civil War battles and more. These historic sites are fascinating — even if you’re not a military buff.

Today, Peaks Island is a beautiful breath of fresh air away from the city scene. A visit here is sure to include a taste of nature, wildlife, and of course, stunning coastal scenery.

You’ll still find a handful of inns and rental cottages, along with a restaurants, cafe, and an ice cream parlor. In addition, there’s a grocery store, kayak rentals, art galleries and Peaks Island golf cart rentals. And don’t forget the unique Umbrella Cover Museum.

You can spend the better part of a day on Peaks Island if you explore at a leisurely pace, and you can stay overnight at one of the charming inns. You can also see quite a bit of it in just a few hours when you rent a golf cart.

How to Get to Peaks Island

Ferry dock at Peaks Island Maine

You can pick up the Ferry at the Casco Bay Lines Ferry Terminal at corner of Commercial & Franklin Streets in downtown Portland. It departs Portland for Peaks Island 14 times daily and will cost you just over $4 for a round-trip ticket.

If you’re staying at the Portland Harbor Hotel, like I did, you’re within walking distance of the ferry terminal.

If you have to find parking, make sure you leave plenty of time to find a spot and get to the ferry terminal. There are parking options for the general public within a half block of the ferry terminal, like the Municipal Parking Garage, but they can fill up.

You can also take your car over on the ferry, but it’s not recommended. That’s because there’s limited space on the ferries, and it’s not really that big of an island. If you do decide to bring your car, you’ll need to buy a round trip ticket and be sure to be in queue at the ferry terminal at least 15 minutes early. Also note that the driver’s ticket is included in the fare, but passengers are extra.

Dogs are welcome on the ferry, but require a ticket and must be on leash at all times.

The Ferry Ride to Peaks Island

On the ferry ride over, you’ll take in a gorgeous views of Portland’s waterfront, pass Fort Gorges, and you’re likely see both large and lovely sea vessels on Casco Bay, too.

You are free to bring food and drink on the ferry, which you can eat on the ferry or plan ahead for a picnic on Peaks Island. The ferry ride is comfortable and short, and there are restrooms available on board.

When you step off the ferry at the Peaks Island ferry terminal, you’ll be at Forest City Landing on Peaks Island. This landing has been used since the 1880s!

If you don’t want to take the ferry, you can also charter a private boat or take your own boat to Peaks Island. But it’s hard to beat the rate and daily departures.

Note: The ferry terminal and the ferry itself are federal properties, so at the time of this writing, you’ll need to wear a mask in the ferry terminal and indoors on the ferry even if you’re vaccinated.

Related Article: Read this detailed review of the Portland Harbor Hotel.

What to Expect on Peaks Island

roses blooming along white picket fence
blue bicycle with basket leaning against fence

Peaks Island an excellent destination to visit by yourself, as a couple, or as a family. There’s not a lot to do on Peaks island – and yet at the same time, there is.

It is a breath of fresh air from the busy city, and an ideal getaway to enjoy a taste of nature, wildlife, beautiful scenery, and more.

When you disembark the ferry onto the island, you’re steps from the island’s humble center. Depending on the season, you’ll be welcomed by climbing roses and other beautiful flowers as you ascend Welch Street toward the intersection. 

Lobster boats docked at the Peaks Island pier

It’s worth noting that you’ll find public restrooms and Mike’s Golf Carts to the right. Opposite that is Peaks Cafe where you can grab a tasty sandwich or fresh-made pastry and some coffee before you begin exploring the island. (I recommend the cinnamon buns!)

If you continue up Welch Street, you’ll see the The Inn on Peaks Island on the diagonal. There, you might make dinner plans for a locally-sourced meal, and even consider staying overnight. Their luxury guest rooms feature Jacuzzi tubs, private decks, and skyline views of Portland. They even offer an apartment-style suite with four bedrooms that sleeps up to eleven if you’re traveling with your family or other couples.

At the intersection of Welch and Island Ave., turn left. You’ll find Brad’s Bicycle Rental, Peaks Island Golf Carts, a grocery store, and The Cockeyed Gull restaurant (which has waterfront views) along this way. Every thing is practically right next door!

These businesses are a good start once you arrive, but the real attraction is in fully navigating this beautiful island.

Best Ways to Get Around Peaks Island

Peaks Island golf cart parked alongside the shore

There are more than a few ways to get around Peaks Island. After all, the island isn’t very big and the scenic loop trail (best traversed from March to November) is about 4 miles long. The loop goes from the ferry landing straight up Welch Street, right on Island Avenue, and then you’ll follow the signs to the scenic route. You can also navigate the residential streets to enjoy beautiful views of Victorian cottages, representing both private property and vacation rentals.

Here are some of the most common ways to get around Peaks Island:

  • On Foot – You can easily take a short walk, jog, or run this mostly flat 4-mile route that circumnavigates the island
  • Ride a Bicycle – For a small fee, you can bring your own bike with you on the ferry; or rent bikes on island
  • Take a Taxi – You’ll usually find taxi service at the ferry stop from 7:30 AM – 7:30 PM in season
  • Rent a Golf Cart – Get a Peaks Island golf cart rental for a few hours or weeks at a time if you’re staying on the island; (minimal rental: 2 hours)
  • Take a Guided Tour – Peaks Island Tours offers 75-minute guided tours on the island
  • By Car – If you bring your own car over on the ferry, this is also an option, although not recommended

With only a few hours to spend on this island, I chose to explore the scenic beauty on a Peaks Island golf cart rental. It was a great mode of island transportation! Peaks Island Golf Carts provided us with a lovely, electric golf cart rental for two hours so I could write this review based on our experience.

I was very happy motoring around on a golf cart! It was exactly what I needed to explore the beauty of Peaks Island for the afternoon.

Benefits of Renting A Golf Cart on Peaks Island

Hydrangeas bloom alongside a new England home
Sun reflecting off the water
Porch with ornamental finish work

What I loved about seeing Peaks Island by golf cart is that:

  • You can see whole island in a short time
  • You’re protected from sun under the canope
  • You can carry your belongings with you without being burdomsome, such as your backpack, camera, water bottle, and lunch
  • There are plenty of pull offs to the side of the road where you can walk down footpaths, sit on benches overlooking the water, and get a closer look at other scenic places
  • It’s really easy to drive a golf cart (who knew?!)
  • The island isn’t very big, and the scenic coastal route is well-marked so you can’t get lost
  • You can fully explore the inland roads to see beautiful cottages nestled in the woods for an authentic glimpse of island life
  • It’s a fun way to get around!

What to Expect When Renting A Golf Cart on Peaks Island

Golf cart on Peaks Island, stopped by the ocean

At Peaks Island Golf Carts, you can rent a golf-cart by the hour, day, or week. For two hours, the rate for our electric golf cart was $40 (plus tip), which is very affordable. If you’re visiting Peaks Island for an afternoon, two hours is plenty to scout around the island.

But if you are vacationing for the weekend or a longer stay, you’ll want to consider the weekly rate.

For Peaks Island Golf Cart rentals, you must be at least 21 years of age with a valid driver’s license and major credit card. Anyone driving the golf cart must be 18 years or older with a valid driver’s license.

You’ll want to make reservations in advance for day or weekly rentals–at least the day before and earlier during peak season. Hourly rentals are on a first-come first served basis. So, be sure to make a prior reservation.

Getting to Peaks Island Golf Carts for a Rental

Peaks Island Golf Cart is a small, family run operation that’s open between May and October. It was the first golf cart rental service established on the island. Those in the know bypass the crowds at the ferry landing and head on up to Peaks Island Golf Carts on Island Ave.

Take a left at Down Front ice cream parlor and you’ll find Peaks Island Golf Carts located before the Umbrella Cover Museum.

If you reserve a golf cart in advance, Peaks Island Golf Carts’ friendly and knowledgable staff will have it ready and waiting for you. In fact, if it’s close to the end of the season, I highly recommend reserving in advance even for hourly rentals because toward the end of October, the rentals are by reservation only.

The full fleet numbers 20 quality golf carts. Most of them are electric, which are more quiet and better for the environment than their gas-powered counterparts.

About the Golf Carts – How to Drive & Road Rules

Close up of golf cart rear seating

When I walked up the hill from the ferry to pick up our golf cart, it was ready waiting for us. Matt gave me a short, easy lesson on driving the golf cart and the road rules. They travel easily along Peaks Islands paved roads.

There really isn’t much to driving a golf cart. Of course, you have a key, a steering wheel and an accelerator pedal to make it go. It has two gears, forward and reverse, and a break pedal.

In some ways, it’s a bit like riding in a jeep, with two comfortable seats before the windshield, a covered roof, and no doors – but much slower.

The golf cart seats four passengers. In the back is a rear-facing bench, sort of like a trundle seat. It opens up to a storage space for your belongings.

As far as island rules go, you can drive all over the island – and don’t worry, you can’t really go too fast in the golf cart – they are low-speed vehicles! Your top speed is about 14 mph downhill.

But you do have to yield to—basically everyone and everything. And if there is a car behind you, you need to simply pull over and let them pass by. 

Where to Go Around Peaks Island | Things to Do

Cockeyed Gull restaurant on Peaks Island
Rocky coastal formations

You’ll want to travel the coastal loop for incredible vistas of the ocean. Truly, you’ll discover unparalleled ocean views! You can make a few stops along the way as your curiosity is piqued, or you want to stroll along the sandy beaches at low tide or the rocks looking for sea glass and other souvenirs of your trip.

There are several beaches on Peaks Island, both rocky and sandy. However, they are not all open to the public. The three public beaches on Peaks Island are:

  • Sandy Beach
  • Cairn Beach
  • Centennial Beach

If you’re looking to swim, opt for Sandy Beach or Centennial Beach.

Along the way, you’ll pass by the expansive Peaks Island Nature Preserve, home to all kinds of birds and wildlife. You’ll also pass by a World War II bunker and Battery Steele.

As you follow some of the roads that lead to the interior of the island, you’ll see lots of victorian cottages with gingerbread trim, lobster boats, and plenty of other beautiful homes along the way.

You’ll also come across many working artists’ galleries worth a visit.

In fact, you might plan a stop in to Island Lobster Company, a family-owned, sustainable Maine trap-to-table seafood restaurant. (You’re probably getting a little bit hungry by now.) There, you’ll enjoy the Captain’s daily catch by the water, and can even sign up for a traditional seaside New England Lobster Bake!

Peaks Island pier Maine | Enjoy Travel Life
Peaks Island dock and bay.
Peaks Island military lookout | Enjoy Travel Life
Remnants of the past.
Peaks Island ME seashells | Enjoy Travel Life
Mussel shells and other beach finds.

Final Thoughts on Peaks Island Golf Cart Rentals

If you’re expecting a vacation on par with Martha’s Vineyard or a New Hampshire getaway, you’ve got the wrong idea about Peaks Island. And that’s one of the best things about planning a trip here.

Instead, you’ll find a peaceful retreat on a small island where you might feel like you’ve pleasantly stepped from the ferry dock back in time to quieter days. The closer to the off-season, the better, and preferably by golf cart.

There’s no better way to explore the beautiful scenic views, rocky beaches, and fun things to do at this friendly destination.

If you love exploring these beautiful Islands off coastal Maine, then read about Bailey Island, next!

peaks island golf course | Enjoy Travel Life
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Peaks Island

Here are answers to some common questions people also ask about Peaks Island and renting a golf cart on Peaks Island.

Do I need a golf cart on Peaks Island?

Most people rely on golf carts as a common way to get around Peaks Island, including tourists and the locals. It’s a great way to explore the island and to see the island-wide views and attractions. While you might not need a golf cart since it’s a small island, it’s the most convenient and efficient way to get around. It’s also the most popular mode of transportation.

How do you get around on Peaks Island?

You can explore Peaks Island on foot, rent a bicycle, or rent a golf cart. Those are the most common means of transportation on Peaks Island. Once you get off the ferry, you’ll find Peaks Island Golf Carts and Mike’s Carts, as well as Brad’s Bike Rental, steps from your disembarkment point on Island Avenue. Just be sure you check the minimum rental times and make a prior reservation with the rental companies.

Can you walk around Peaks Island?

Absolutely! Peaks Island features a lovely loop trail that encompasses the island. This scenic, easy trail along the coast is just about 4 miles long – and very walkable! You’ll likely want to to stop and enjoy the beauty en route, so allow for a little extra time in your Peaks Island itinerary. Alternatively, you can rent a bike or golf cart to cover more ground.

How long is the ride to Peaks Island?

From Portland to Peaks Island by way of the Casco Bay Lines ferry, a ride to Peaks Island takes about 15 minutes to cover the 3 mile distance. So, even if you don’t plan to spend the weekend, overnight, or even spend a day on this charming Maine island, you can visit by boat to watch a lovely sunset and be back in Portland in minutes.

Are there Ubers on Peaks Island?

Surprisingly, yes – you can hire an Uber, Lyft, and Taxi ride on Peaks Island, despite the island’s small 740 acre size. But, why bother? The best way to enjoy this charming island off the coast of Portland Maine is on foot, bicycle, or golf cart. Doing so makes the experience an unforgettable time!

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18 thoughts on “Best Peaks Island Golf Cart Rentals to Explore Island off Portland Maine”

  1. Love the article. Is it possible if arriving by cruise ship in Portland to take ferry to Peaks Island, rent golf cart, tour the island and take ferry back to Portland? Ship arrives in am and leaves about 5pm?

    • That is absolutely doable, Mary! The Casco Bay ferry from Portland to Peaks island runs multiple times a day. You can rent a golf cart through the beginning of December, but be sure to book it in advance. They don’t do same day rentals on the island in the shoulder season. You can explore the island and be back well in time for your cruise departure. Have fun!

  2. This is a great idea! I haven’t really thought about using golf carts but it’s indeed a great way to get around. Will keep this in mind should we have a chance to visit Peaks Island. Thank you for sharing these tips.

  3. Peaks Island sounds like an amazing day trip from Portland! Riding the ferry and feeling the ocean breezes and the sun would be perfect. I would love exploring by bicycle but the golf cart sounds fun too — perhaps a little more economical and fun to share with friends.

    • There are so many ways to enjoy the trip to Peaks Island, Tami. Biking is a great option, too!

  4. There is no doubt that the island is naturally pretty. However the thing that got me the most excited is that you can explore it with a golf cart. I have always wanted to do that and this place is built for it. Love the fact that you can stop almost anywhere and even stumble upon artists at work. Love the tips you have included to plan the trip!

    • I agree, Ami – It was so fun to ride around this beautiful island in a golf-cart! And I’m always partial to artists’ havens. 😉

  5. We stayed in Bangor, Maine for three weeks a few years ago. We never heard of Peaks Island. From your pictures and description, it sounds like a smaller Martha’s Vineyard. Lobster should be plenty and cheap! And I would love to see the Umbrella Cover Museum~

    • Hi Carol, Peak’s Island is much smaller than Martha’s Vineyard: It’s just over a square miles (while MV is about 88 sq. mi). You can tour the whole thing is a few hours! If you happen to stop into Portland for the day on your way up to Bangor again, a tour over to Peak’s Island is a great take.

  6. I have driven golf carts before and I know how much fun they can be. However, I never drove them outside of golf courses. Renting a golf cart to explore Peaks island sounds like a great way to see all the sights in a short time.

  7. I love Maine! Although, I never really thought about visiting one of the islands. Interesting. My husband would totally go for the golfing. It looks like such a fabulous place to explore!

    • I love Maine, too, Jennifer! You’ll find so many islands to visit next time you go…and Peaks Island is cool!

  8. Peaks Island looks beautiful! Too bad I haven’t heard about it when we went to Maine last summer. And I think $40 fee for golf cart rental is affordable. I would like to visit this island next time we go to Maine.

    • I hope you have a chance to revisit Maine and check out Peaks Island, Umiko. It’s a great way day trip from Portland!

  9. Never heard of Peaks Island but if it’s the Coney Island of Maine, then we’re absolutely convinced of going! My family is a part of a country club where we’re from and growing up, I would driv around the club with a golf cart. I can only imagine the sceneries and views we would get if we would tour around a place like Peaks Island instead. Thanks for the rental tips, will bookmark this if we get the chance to visit Peaks Island!

    • That is absolutely true about the scenery, and if you already have experience driving a golf cart, you’ll feel right at home! Hope you get a chance to visit this little island gem in Maine.

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