Maine : Safety by City
- Bar Harbor
- Carrabassett Valley
- Presque Isle/Caribou
- South Portland
Rockland, Maine, is one of the top tourist destinations for those exploring the Mid-Coast region.
You also get great access to nearby islands that dot the landscape.
The city started as a shipbuilding yard before turning to lime production.
Tourism became a bigger deal as the railroad was built throughout the city.
While it’s still a small fishing town of fewer than 7,000 people, tourism is fueling the economy.
The population is growing as people realize the safe and serene beauty of “Vacationland.”
The ferry terminal here tears down boundaries to other cities with service to Boston, Portland, and the Fox Islands.
It’s important to know that there could be name confusion in this area, as Rockland and Rockport are just seven miles apart.
Even I got a little turned around for a second writing this article.
They are both great cities and close enough that even a simple booking error wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but just pay close attention when you’re doing searches.
The Maine Lobster Festival is held in Rockland each year, which is quite a big deal since Lobster is such a part of the culture and cuisine here.
Rockland’s region includes Thomaston, Owl’s Head, and St. George, the latter of which is on a peninsula.
The region is a blossoming arts community with museums and main streets to explore during any season.
Parks are scattered along the rocky coast for exploring and wildlife watching.
The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is a popular spot with a walking path all the way to the front door.
Owl’s Head State Park also has a lighthouse and other park amenities.
Throughout Mid-Coast Maine, you can find more secluded beaches with smaller crowds, but a sandy shoreline becomes harder to find than in Southern Maine.
Warnings & Dangers in Rockland
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low overall risk here, with just six violent crimes reported in 2021 and low theft rates as well. Even though this might appear to be a remote area on the map, it's quickly becoming a no-so-secret getaway along the coastline. Maine is the second-safest state in the nation too, so traveling around to the different cities won't increase your safety risk.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You won't find public transportation here, and taxis/rideshares might be hard to come by. Having your own car is really the only good way to get around if you want to explore the entire region. The city is very walkable, and bicycles are available for rent too.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
This is a low risk. Of the 75 thefts, not a single one was a pickpocket. 25% of those were car break-ins, so that's a risk no matter how safe a city is. You exponentially lower your risk if you lock your car and leave nothing in plain sight inside.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Hurricanes, nor'easters, intense winter weather, and flooding are the biggest concerns here. Any weather risk comes with plenty of warning, but since this is a more secluded area, you should understand severe weather safety before your visit. Knox County Emergency Management's website has all kinds of that information.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
No robberies have been reported in several years, so this is another low risk. Don't let your guard down just because of that. Crime has been increasing nationwide, and you should always be aware of your surroundings and avoid dark streets or alleys.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
This is low risk with a region full of small towns and fishing boats. Portland would likely be the one potential target in this state, but there's no overall concern about Maine being a terror target.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Maine is dealing with an affordable housing crisis, which has made rental scams add insult to injury. You should use extreme caution if you're renting a home here. Follow up with the Better Business Bureau for references, check with local travel agencies, and never wire money to pay for a rental. If you suspect a housing scam, report it to the Rockland Police Department.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
As long as female travelers understand it is a remote region that comes with outdoor risks and safety protocols. Otherwise, this is a safe, enjoyable, and relaxing part of the country.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report from the Rockland Division shows full compliance and no violations. Mainewater.com has a list of frequently asked questions if you want to learn more about the water quality testing process.
Safest Places to Visit in Rockland
Look for the Mid-Coast region of VisitMaine.com to get the official tourism site for Rockland and surrounding cities.
Also, look at the DownEast section, as that’s just to the north of this region, including the popular city of Bar Harbor.
The website also has categories of events by season, which is a great way to rule out any closed attractions during your visit.
Main Street Rockland is the center of “action” in this quaint town.
You’ll find restaurants and shopping here, with the Rockland Harbor just a short walk away.
The Rockland Ferry Terminal has routes to Matinicus, North Haven, and Vinalhaven islands.
Route information and ticket prices are available at the Maine DOT website.
The Maine Lighthouse Museum is right near the harbor.
You won’t find another collection with so many artifacts and memories of lighthouses and the Coast Guard anywhere else in the United States.
The museum is open seasonally but not nearly as limited as the hours of more “summertime” attractions.
You can visit here during specific times in the winter.
The Project Puffin Visitor Center is where you can learn about seabirds and the efforts being made to create safe nesting areas for all birds in this region.
Start with the film “Project Puffin” to learn about the initiative before exploring.
I can’t write this section without thinking of the scene from Elf when the arctic puffin says, “Hey Buddy.
Want to pick some snowberries?”
The Coastal Children’s Museum is for children of all ages (even adults!) to learn about the place where the ocean meets land and the unique features created throughout the ages.
You will need to book tickets online ahead of time.
30 spots are available for each time frame.
The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is just offshore but has a stone walking path to it.
The granite blocks can be slippery, so wear shoes with a good grip on them.
Ensure those shoes are comfortable before the lighthouse is a mile out in the water.
One of the newest places to visit is a bit somber but quite stunning.
The El Faro salute is a sculpture that pays tribute to two Rockland sailors lost at sea when the El Faro freight ship was lost at sea during Hurricane Joaquin in 2015.
Acadia National Park is a two-and-a-half-hour drive if you don’t have a boat, but it’s well worth the trip.
The nearly 50,000-acre park is home to historic buildings, carriage trails, shorelines, wildlife viewing, mountains, and various outdoor activities during each season.
Closer to Rockland, Camden Hills State Park is open all year with hiking trails and a great spot atop Mt. Battie for scenic views.
You’re also close to the small but charming town of Camden.
Places to Avoid in Rockland
No dangerous neighborhoods to unsafe sections of the city exist, but there has been a rash of juvenile crime in late 2022, which was escalating.
This is important to know because some of the suspects were as young as 12.
The groups of juveniles have been trespassing, disturbing the peace, and even getting physical with adults a few times.
While normally, you think a group to avoid would be a group of adults, here, you’ll need to keep an eye out for rowdy kids too.
You should study Maine wildlife safety – everything from the large animal like moose to the smaller animals like ticks – and pack a recommended safety kit.
You likely won’t have mobile phone service in the wilderness or on the islands, and you’ll need to be self-sufficient.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Rockland
- Before you visit Rockland, call the main police line to ask about the rash of juvenile crime. These situations can be easily squashed or quickly become more violent. If the trend continues, police might even be able to tell you the hot spots where the crime is happening. You can call them at (207)594-0316 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The department also has a Facebook page that is updated with information daily.
- The Report It, Fix It tab on the city’s website allows you to report issues you see, such as potholes or storm damage. You will need to create an account, but you’ll also be able to see what other people have reported.
- March and April are what’s known as “Mud Season” in Maine. As the snow melts and the ground is oversaturated, even walking across a lawn can leave you ankle-deep in mud. You will likely find better deals during this time of year, but that’s because even a hike in the woods can leave your shoes lost several feet in the mud. Cars easily get stuck on a dirt road that is now just a mud pit. If you rent a home, confirm there aren’t dirt roads if you’re staying this time of year, and don’t risk driving down a muddy road.
- While Rockland has great indoor attractions in the winter, many of them will ask you to remove your outdoor boots and change shoes. Bring an extra pair of sneakers with you as you walk around the area.
- The walk to the Breakwater Lighthouse is long, and the rocks can be slippery when wet. Dozens of accidents happen each year because people aren’t paying attention. Put away your phone or stop to take pictures. Don’t get distracted while walking. The stones can be uneven too.
- The wilderness areas along the coast of Maine can have mosquitos and ticks, which are common nationwide. However, the Browntail Moth is also a concern. This invasive species is first a caterpillar covered in poisonous hairs that can leave painful welts. Don’t touch them. Since the hairs can be airborne, you can inhale them and have difficulty breathing. Allergy oral and lotion medications can help reduce the impact.
- When visiting the shoreline, especially rocky ridges like are found at Acadia National Park, stay away from the edge of the cliffs and don’t put yourself between the rocks and the pounding waves. Never turn your back on the ocean in this area so a rouge wave can’t creep up on you.
- Anglers need a fishing license from the state’s wildlife department, and Rockland has a section with licensing information for saltwater and freshwater. Be sure to carry your license with you at all times when fishing.
- Winter parking bans are common throughout Maine. From December 1 through March 31, you can’t park on a public street from 2:00 am to 6:00 am. If there is a recent snowfall, cars can’t be on public streets. You can apply for a permit, but you’ll need to do that through the city hall.
- If you’ll be using the Maine Ferry Service, sign up for cancelation notifications. High winds, inclement weather, or staffing shortages can cause routes to be delayed or canceled for the day. Create a New England 511 Traveler Information System account to sign up for alerts and check your driving routes for delays or closures.
So... How Safe Is Rockland Really?
In what has been an otherwise calm city, in December 2022, some people described the juvenile crime wave as “terrorizing the city.”
More than 100 incidents were reported in three months and showed no signs of slowing down.
Waves of juvenile crime are common as crime rates grow in America.
The challenge for law enforcement is that law enforcement can’t hold them in custody.
The kids know that, so they keep committing crimes, also knowing it won’t go on their public record until they are adults.
On top of that, juvenile detention centers will only take youth accused of violent felonies, leaving many juveniles with no repercussions for their actions.
“It is a small group, but unfortunately, they’re making a lot of noise.
There’s disorderly conduct, trespassing, terrorizing,” Rockland Police Chief Tim Carroll told local station WGME.
“These are serious crimes.”
“It is a majority of females that are lashing out verbally and physically,” Rockland Parks and Rec. Director Donald Prescott said.
There isn’t an easy solution to this without appropriate counseling and mental health services for the youth, and now officers are worried the kids will grow up as criminal adults.
It might seem odd to think that a group of teenage girls is causing so many problems, but that’s the reality in the community.
Is it enough to scare you off?
Just remember to keep your doors locked and avoid groups of teenagers at local parks or in public spaces.
Other than that blemish, the crime rates in this city are incredibly low, with a violent crime rate of 86 per 100,000 people, while the national average is 399 per 100,000.
How Does Rockland Compare?
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|La Paz (Bolivia)||52|
|Sao Paulo (Brazil)||45|
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International tourists need a U.S. Visa or Visa Waiver (if your country is eligible). The U.S. State Department oversees this process and offers detailed step-by-step guides on its website. Plan to start the process about three months ahead of time. Make sure you have a valid passport too.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency used in America, and you'll want to exchange currency before you arrive to get the best value. Carry some cash with you for emergencies, but keep it in a safe hiding place, like a secret jacket pocket.
Pack long sleeves and pants any time of the year, but bring summer clothes mixed in for June through August. Winter can be dangerously cold, so bring layers of insulation and waterproofing to protect yourself from the elements while still enjoying all Maine has to offer. Waterproof boots and jackets are essential. Bug spray and sunscreen should also be added to your luggage.
You're about two hours on the road from Portland International Jetport, and Bangor's international airport is 90 minutes through the forest and on a remote two-lane road.
Flight delay or cancelation risks mixed with nature's natural risks should add up to smart travel insurance investments. Ensure you have car insurance on your rental, even if you have to buy supplemental insurance. There are too many road hazards here to risk it.
Rockland Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Maine - Safety by City