In New England, the term Down East is applied in several different ways. In the narrowest sense, Down East refers to the coast of the U.S. state of Maine from Penobscot Bay to the Canadian border, but it is sometimes used as a loose term for the entire eastern portion of the state. Scores, perhaps hundreds, of companies and organizations in Maine have "Down East" as part of their name, ranging from a hospital  to a magazine  to a company making hard cider.
Down East, The Magazine of Maine explains the origin of the term in New England: "When ships sailed from Boston to ports in Maine (which were to the east of Boston), the wind was at their backs, so they were sailing downwind, hence the term 'Down East.' And it follows that when they returned to Boston they were sailing upwind; many Mainers still speak of going 'up to Boston,' despite the fact that the city lies approximately 50 miles to the south of Maine’s southern border."
As a cultural region, Downeast Maine encompasses the rural communities of Hancock and Washington counties. Principal Downeast towns include Bucksport, Lubec, Calais, Eastport, and Machias. Bar Harbor, Blue Hill, and Ellsworth can also be considered Downeast communities. The term generally excludes Mount Desert Island, although usage varies. Villages in the Schoodic area include Gouldsboro, Winter Harbor, Prospect Harbor, Steuben, and Milbridge.
See also 
- Down East Community Hospital
- Down East magazine
- Downeast Cider House
- "Frequently Asked Questions". Down East. Archived from the original on 2001-10-21.
- Woodard, Colin. The Lobster Coast. New York: Viking/Penguin, 2004, pp. 27–32 (for full discussion of the term and the cultural region). ISBN 0-670-03324-3.