The Southern Maine Coast boasts dozens of beaches catering to diverse seaside preferences. From family-friendly shorelines to hidden spots ideal for treasure hunting like sand dollars, these beaches boast unique offerings for visitors of all ages, whether they’re looking for summer excursions or winter getaways.
Each beach along the coastline holds a distinct charm, standing out in its way. From the notable Ogunquit Beach to lesser-known sandy enclaves, there’s a wealth of oceanfront destinations among the best beaches in Southern Maine ready to please the varied tastes of Maine’s visitors.
Coastal Gems of Kittery Maine
Fort Foster in Kittery presents multiple sandy retreats open to the public including Pier Beach South, Whaleback Beach, and Rocky Beach (aka Scuba Beach). While mobile connectivity might be challenging, a park map can guide visitors to these scenic spots. Additionally, canine companions are welcomed seasonally.
Best Beaches in York
York Harbor Beach
At the heart of the harbor, this sheltered beach offers gentle waves and an ideal setting for families to enjoy tide pools and the serenity of a protected bay. Adjacent is a cliffside path providing diverse coastal scenery.
Parking near the beach is restricted to residents; however, a two-hour public parking space is available on Route 1A.
Long Sands Beach
Spanning over a mile, Long Sands Beach provides a quintessential Maine coast vista, featuring an eclectic mix of sandy stretches and rocky outcrops, with the famed Nubble Lighthouse gracing the horizon. It’s also a go-to spot for finding sand dollars.
Metered parking is available on a first-come basis, and visitors should be mindful of the high tide’s reach toward the road.
Short Sands Beach
Deceiving in name, Short Sands Beach is densely packed with appeal, boasting a blend of sandy beach with rugged coastline, where impressive waves create a dynamic backdrop.
As part of Ellis Park, the area is a hub for local events. Metered parking is available, and the beach is conveniently a short walk to York’s Wild Kingdom.
The Uncharted Shores Around York
While Sohier Park provides no sand for sunbathing, its view of Nubble Lighthouse is captivating, earning it a spot on the distinguished Voyager II photograph collection. Parking here is free, offering visitors a chance to enjoy a budget-friendly, picturesque setting.
Cape Neddick Beach Hideaway
Often escaping the travel brochures, this small arc of sand at Cape Neddick is framed by Shore Road and Intervale South Road, creating a perfect nook for visitors en route to Mount Agamenticus. Parking is available at a neighboring campground for a nominal fee.
Coastal Gems of Ogunquit
Coastal Stretch of Ogunquit
The coastal area of Ogunquit, Maine, offers a serene, expansive beachscape that spans approximately three miles. It is a popular destination with distinct areas catering to various preferences:
- Main Beach: This area is bustling with visitors and is conveniently located close to the town’s center. It’s the primary beach zone for those looking to be in the heart of the action.
- Footbridge Beach: For those seeking a quieter beach experience, this spot can be reached via a charming footbridge. It serves as a tranquil alternative to Main Beach, especially during peak times.
- North Beach: Offering seclusion, North Beach is accessed through a hidden parking area. Visitors are advised to respect private property boundaries as they enjoy the adjacent stretches of sand.
Parking requires credit card payment or the Passport Parking mobile application since cash is not accepted.
Cliffside Pathway: Marginal Way
Not every coastal path leads directly to sandy shores and the cliffside walk known as Marginal Way is a great example. One point of interest visitors don’t want to miss is the public access to a stony waterfront towards the Marginal Way’s northern extremity. It’s a visually captivating route that winds towards the vicinity of Main Beach’s entrance.
Beaches in Wells, Maine
Crescent Beach boasts a secluded shoreline shielded by the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. With parking spaces leading to a stairway, visitors arrive at a rocky ingress which quickly transitions into sandy serenity just steps to the north.
The lengthy Wells Beach can be approached either by foot from Crescent Beach or through one of the two car parks situated at each end of the seven-mile sand expanse. Renowned for its peaceful sunrise views, this beach is bordered by private residences contributing to a tranquil atmosphere.
Amenities like eateries and restrooms are closer to the southern parking area.
For those seeking a smaller, more private beach scene, Harbor Beach is a choice destination with boats adorning the adjacent harbor. Limited free parking is available on site, and visitors can also peruse nearby shops for paddling and fishing gear.
Drakes Island offers a stretch of sand marked by seclusion alongside a sizable paid parking lot and a nearby complimentary lot with ramped beach access. With its signature jetty, the site is great for exploring, but visitors should be mindful of the gaps between its boulders.
A hidden gem within the Wells Reserve is the pristine Laudholm Beach, approached through Barrier Beach Trail. The route to this infrequently visited beach unveils diverse ecosystems, expansive low tide views and rich tidepools. Visitors who come back more than once should consider taking varied routes to enjoy all the beach can offer.
Beaches in Kennebunk, Maine
Located at the southern entry point to Kennebunk via Beach Avenue, Gooch’s Beach is the first sandy expanse visitors encounter. Visitors can find ample space for relaxation and recreation during low tide.
The beach extends over a half-mile and features a jetty suitable for fishing activities. The area also boasts popularity among the surfing community due to its conducive wave conditions.
Advancing along Beach Avenue, Middle Beach presents a rockier shore, providing a contrast to the sandy Gooch’s Beach. With the high tide limiting the extent of the beach, it becomes an ideal locale for tide-pooling and discovering marine life at the water’s edge.
Mother’s Beach is a sanctuary for families, named for its gentle waters that facilitate a safe environment for young swimmers. The beach features a playground, adding to its family-friendly appeal. Visitors should take the time to explore the tidepools that become visible at low tide.
Beach Escapes in Kennebunkport, Maine
A Visit to the Town’s Seaside Retreat
Nestled to the south of Dock Square rests a charming coastal stretch with no admission fee. A visit here isn’t just about lounging on the sand; it’s an opportunity to observe Kennebunkport’s maritime activity up close, with boats gliding gracefully in and out of the harbor.
Goose Rocks Shoreline
A picturesque barrier buffers Goose Rocks Shoreline, ensuring calm waters for a perfect day at the beach. Stretching two miles, the beach is framed by the Little River and Batson River, known for fluctuating water quality.
Should the tides permit, adventurous visitors can trek to Timber Island — but they should heed the tidal timetable to avoid an unplanned island stay.
Blowing Cave Park
Positioned at the conjunction of Ocean Avenue and Endcliffe Road, Blowing Cave Park offers more than a simple coastal view. Adventurous visitors appreciate climbing the rocks for a dramatic oceanic display, especially during high tide, when the sea cave comes alive with the thunderous sound of waves colliding with ancient stone.
Visitors to these areas are encouraged to relish the natural beauty while being mindful of environmental conditions and safety considerations.
Coastal Attractions of Biddeford, Maine
Fortune’s Rocks Beach
Fortune’s Rocks Beach remains a beacon for visitors with two miles of sandy shores. Named for a sailor’s romantic tale, the beach’s curved coastline offers an ideal setting for surfing enthusiasts and family outings.
Adjacent to its more populous neighbor, Middle Beach offers a quieter retreat. This slice of coastline provides a relaxed environment, especially on days when other spots are bustling with beachgoers.
Boucher Park at Biddeford Pool
Considered to be a hidden gem tucked away, Gilbert Boucher Park at Biddeford Pool presents an intimate beach experience. With the entrance to parking concealed, visitors can discover a serene segment of the Biddeford coastline near the spiritual oasis of the Marie Joseph Spiritual Center set against the ocean backdrop.
Beaches of Saco, Maine
The Wharf at Camp Ellis
At the wharf in Camp Ellis, visitors can find a quaint area of sand to relax while observing lobster boats as they drift through the harbor. A substantial jetty invites exploration, and on the northwest side, there’s an opportunity to rent kayaks or boats for adventures into Saco Bay or towards Biddeford Pool. The wharf is also known for its freshly caught seafood offerings.
Bay View Beach
The shores of Bay View Beach often buzz with visitors. Its standout feature is a beach mat that creates an easy pathway for wheelchairs and strollers to navigate the sand.
Within the dunes, there’s a protected nesting ground for Piping Plovers, which patrons are encouraged to observe respectfully from a distance. This beach provides parking options for both permit holders and hourly rates.
Adjacent to Bay View Beach is the tranquil Kinney Shores, offering glimpses of nature from the Goosefare Brook Observation Deck. This secluded beach lacks amenities but invites exploration, especially when the tide recedes to reveal its sandbars.
Ferry Beach State Park
Ferry Beach State Park is an enclave of natural wonders, featuring diverse landscapes from a tupelo swamp and dense forests to protective dunes, all interconnected by a series of trails.
These paths are home to intriguing natural formations, dubbed sea monsters and witches, amidst trees that seem to stand on their roots. The beach itself is a peaceful retreat from the bustling town beaches, where long stretches of fine sand provide a sense of solitude.
Coastal Highlights of Old Orchard Beach
Old Orchard Beach
With an expansive seven miles of shoreline, Old Orchard Beach beckons sun-seekers and families. Known for its lively ambiance, the beach’s proximity to the iconic pier means bustling crowds throughout the warm weather months.
Tip: Arrive early to secure a prime location along this popular seaside destination.
Adjacent to the vibrant Old Orchard Beach is the tranquil Ocean Park. This community offers a more subdued beach experience, ideal for those seeking a peaceful retreat along Maine’s coast. With its Chautauqua heritage, Ocean Park embodies a tranquil alternative to Old Orchard’s energetic atmosphere.
Note: As you plan your visit to either beach, keep in mind the availability of amenities like restrooms, which may be scarce, especially away from central areas.
Beaches of Scarborough, Maine
State Beach Park of Scarborough
State Beach Park has been noted for its exceptionally invigorating waters during the summer months and spacious sandy areas. Visitors are treated to a panoramic vista, combining the open sea, sandy coastline, and an inland dominated by stately pines.
This beach offers an extensive swathe of sand that appeals to surf enthusiasts and those looking to commune with the sea via a scenic jetty. Facilities including restrooms and showers complement the beach experience, and fishing fans can enjoy surfcasting with the appropriate permits.
Positioned uniquely, this beach extends from the Nonesuch River around to Western Cove, providing a less crowded environment perfect for beachcombing. While it’s not the prime location for surfers, it offers ample space for exploration.
Known for its powdery white sand, Higgens Beach is a haven for those who prefer to avoid pebbly coastlines. Although lifeguards are not present, amenities like public restrooms and showers enhance the beachgoing experience.
Coastal Highlights of Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Fort Williams Park
Visitors often flock to Fort Williams for a glimpse of the iconic Portland Head Lighthouse, but the park’s Ship Cove offers a welcoming sandy retreat. From here, the distant Ram Island Lighthouse is visible, accentuating the maritime charm of the area.
Crescent Beach State Park
Crescent Beach State Park features a mile-long expanse of sand that beckons beachgoers year-round. The landscape transitions into a stunning snowy scene during winter, while warmer months provide panoramic views of passing ships and distant islands.
Two Lights State Park
Adjacent to Crescent Beach, Two Lights State Park combines the rugged appeal of Maine’s rocky coast with sandy beach spots. The park’s 41 acres are laced with trails offering sights of Portland Harbor’s boating activities. Amidst the rocks, grassy patches with picnic tables invite visitors to pause and appreciate Maine’s coastal beauty.
Coastal Gems of Portland, Maine
Pebble-Strewn Shores of the Eastern End Beach
At East End Beach, the city’s proximity becomes an afterthought against the backdrop of the pebble and sandy coastline. City echoes surrender to the lapping waves as the area boasts an impressive stretch adjacent to the East End Promenade Trail, which meanders more than two miles along the scenic coast.
For adventurers and sea enthusiasts, kayak and small boat rentals offer an aquatic perspective of Portland’s Eastern waterfront.
Coastal Charm in South Portland
Willard Beach offers a vibrant atmosphere teeming with local wildlife and the soothing sounds of the ocean. In addition to its sandy shores, visitors can enjoy the picturesque views of the Portland Head Lighthouse from the grassy knoll and take leisurely walks along the northern breakwater to reach the historic Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse.
Coastal Retreats in Yarmouth, Maine
Those seeking solace on the water can find a tranquil escapes at Lanes Island. Adventurers can embark from the Royal River or Winslow Memorial Park in Freeport. Timing a visit with the tides is essential to avoid the inconvenience of navigating the flats during low tide.
Littlejohn Island Preserve
Littlejohn boasts a mix of sandy expanses and rugged coastline amidst a forest backdrop. Reachable by water trail or by vehicle, parking is limited, so plan accordingly. The 23-acre area includes a nearly 1.5-mile shoreline path that invites beachgoers year-round, particularly in autumn.
Coastal Retreats in Freeport
Memorial Park Beachfront
Nestled within Memorial Park & Campground, this intimate beach offers a unique experience as its size varies due to tidal changes. Surrounded by lush greenery and trees, the beach features a blend of sandy patches and rocky areas, providing a diverse terrain for exploration. Visitors can enjoy expansive views of the sea and dotted islands, creating a picturesque backdrop for relaxation.
The Top Beaches on the Southern Maine Coast Are Calling
Whether during the bustling summer months or the serene winter season, the shores of Southern Maine’s coast beckon. Tourists should keep up-to-date with current conditions via the Maine Healthy Beaches Dashboard and familiarize themselves with tidal schedules to optimize their visit.
Visitors often pair beach outings with stays at inviting accommodations and savoring local cuisine at regional eateries. Added it all, it can make for the perfect beach getaway for visitors of any age. The beaches with their soft sand and picturesque views are waiting to be explored, so book your southern Maine beach getaway today!