Purists often enjoy their half-shell oysters unadorned by even a dab of mignonette or a spritz of lemon. In the vernacular, those are “naked” oysters, and they’re an invigorating, if acquired, taste of the sea. In other contexts, naked isn’t always a good thing. The original version of the Maine Oyster Trail, for instance, felt a bit too naked. When Maine Sea Grant, the Maine Aquaculture Association, the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center, and University of Maine Cooperative Extension kicked off the trail in 2017, it was a bare-bones list of oyster farms and oyster-shucking restaurants, potentially useful but not real user-friendly. Thanks to some reenvisioning inspired by the popular Maine Beer Trail, plus a grant from the Maine Office of Tourism, the new platform is a much handier guide to a coastal Maine mollusk crawl. An easily sortable interactive map points travelers to whatever suits their interests — raw bars down east, shuck trucks on the midcoast, farm tours around Casco Bay — and generates an itinerary for multiple stops. Plus, there’s a new Oyster Passport program: register online, enter codes from participating venues, and earn Maine Oyster Trail swag by racking up visits. The oyster trail is a far more appealing resource now that it’s all dressed up.
Unique check-ins at participating oyster operations, via the new Oyster Passport, to earn a Maine Oyster Trail–branded koozie. More visits fetch additional prizes: a baseball cap, a canvas tote, and, after 50 check-ins, a secret grand prize.
Pounds of oysters harvested last year, down about a million pounds from the previous year on account of the pandemic’s deflating effect on seafood markets but still more than double the haul from just a decade earlier.
Participating growers on the midcoast’s New Meadows River, the densest stretch of the trail — a rich environment for oysters and for travelers looking to fill out their Oyster Passports.
Oyster-related businesses, from sea farms to raw bars to kayak tours to oyster food trucks, that have joined the Maine Oyster Trail.