Acadia Hidden Beaches

Discover the Wonders of These Hidden Beaches and Coastlines of Acadia

The beaches of Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island face brutal waves, with barely a stretch of sand to be found if you don’t know where to look.

Maine’s coastline, which includes all intertidal zones where water meets land, stretches 3,500 miles. Only 70 of those miles are sandy beaches. Half of those are south of Portland. Then, the Midcoast gets several sandy miles in places like Reid State Park, Pemaquid Beach, and Popham Beach.

The bedrock of Downeast Maine is hardy; it resists erosion. Traditional beaches are made up of quartz or more erosive rocks mixed in with shells. Maine is left with what the Ice Age left behind and cold saltwater slows down what erosion can happen.

Now you know why any sandy beaches around Acadia National Park are beyond amazing – they are geological anomalies with much to offer. Let us help you find them and other unique waterfront options.

Sand Beach-Acadia
Sand Beach | photo via emily_minion

Sand Beach

This iconic beach stands out for more reasons than the average Maine tourist realizes. It’s one of two beaches north of Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with dunes and is filled with calcium carbonate shell fragments — a rarity in boreal climates.

What makes Sand Beach so special has nothing to do with the beach. When you’re standing at the beach, look out a half mile. You’ll see a rocky island known as “Old Soaker.” The headlands of the cove and Old Soaker prevent heavy wave action at Sand Beach.

Without the protection, the sand of Sand Beach would be carried away.

The same Old Soaker protection makes this one of Maine’s best family-friendly beaches. Sand Beach is one area open year-round, but the large parking lot fills quickly. The Island Explorer shuttle takes you from Bar Harbor to the beach. You can also park at the Great Head Trail and hike less than half a mile to reach the sand.

Boulder Beach-Acadia
Boulder Beach | photo via jbbeatty

Boulder Beach

Our next beach is one you won’t find on any Acadia National Park map and one we maybe shouldn’t even be telling you about if you’re not steady on your feet. Right off Ocean Path, between Otter Cliffs and Thunder Hole, there’s a boulder-filled beach that requires some scrambling to access.

Watch your step on the loose, slippery, and unpredictably loose boulders, and take a seat. You’ll have the ultimate sunrise view in the park (sorry, not sorry, Cadillac Mountain) and far fewer crowds than Sand Beach. It’s the worst-kept secret in Acadia and worth the effort if you don’t sprain your ankle.

This area is part of the park, so it’s perfectly legal to access. Acadia National Park has several “secrets” like this to prevent crowds from causing more safety hazards. Ask about Anemone Cave if this interests you.

Little Hunters Beach -Acadia National Park
Little Hunters Beach | photo via millersmakingmoves

Little Hunters Beach

Looking more like Little Boulder Beach, the pocket beach of Little Hunters Beach is easy to miss if you don’t stop at the small pullout on Park Loop Road. The parking area is just 1.6 miles from the Otter Cove Bridge on the south side of the road.

About 100 feet down on the trail, you’ll arrive at the smooth, cobblestoned beach in a quaint little cove. This is one of several places where weddings are allowed in Acadia National Park.

Don’t let the headlands fool you – this is not a safe (or allowed) spot for swimming. Watch your step, too, as those cobblestones can be slippery and tough to walk on. However, it is easier to walk here than Boulder Beach. The view just isn’t as epic.

Hunters Beach

While Hunters Beach is less than a half mile from its little version, you’ll need to drive more than six miles to get there. That’s because Hunters Beach is accessed outside of the park boundaries off Cooksey Drive in Seal Harbor.

The trail to get there is 1.2 miles out and back. Well, the MARKED trail, anyway. The former Sea Cliff Trail winds to the west and is now (not so well) known as the Lower Day Mountain Trail.

It loops back around with the Hunters Beach Trail. You’ll face exposed ledges and untrustworthy metal railings along the way, but experienced hikers will love this beach add-on.

WHAT IF: One can only imagine what kind of sandy beach prospects you might find on the Hunters beaches if they had their own version of Old Soaker.

Otter Cove Beach | photo via csebolka

Otter Cove Beach

One way or another, you’re going end up at an Otter “something” in Acadia National Park.

Less than six miles from Bar Harbor on Park Loop Road, you’ll end up at Otter Point. The east side is where the impressive Otter Cliff is found, while the west side offers Otter Point Overlook before you go over the Otter Cliff Causeway and Bridge on Park Loop Road.

This extension of the road was built in the late 1930s on land donated by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The “beach” here is on both sides of the road since the bridge slices it in half. It’s a mix of rocky and sandy(ish) beach, with silt coming down from Otter Creek.

No parking is available at Otter Cove Causeway, but you can get here a few ways. First, park at Gorham Mountain Trailhead and take Otter Cove Trail. You can also explore the (not so) secret Fish House Road that leads to a small parking area with the best views of the tripled-ached causeway.

Across the cove from Fish House Road, there’s a little nub of land that sticks out less than 1,000 feet from the end of the bridge. A small parking pull-out area is available to overlook Otter Cove.

FUN FACT: The Otter Cove Causeway’s design was supposed to shore up the north end to create a swimming area in the original plans. That never happened, but it explains why the road was put here in the first place.

Seal Harbor Beach

Getting to Seal Harbor Beach means skipping the Acadia National Park roads and taking the island’s routes less than eight miles from Bar Harbor. It’s also right by the park entrance to Stanley Brook.

Since Sand Harbor, a village in the town of Mount Desert, isn’t off the main park road, many people don’t realize there’s a (sort of) sandy beach here! Glacial silt works its way down the Stanley Brook Watershed.

The beach is near the town green, with a parking lot across the street. This is an affluent section of Mount Desert Island, with Martha Stewart’s mansion topping the bluff on the east side. The yachts in the harbor are also a sign of wealth, but the beach is open to the public.

A local group called the Seal Harbor Village Improvement Society rakes and cleans the beach every day. We would suggest checking the weather and marine forecast before a winter visit, as this beach takes a beating during nor’easters, especially at high or king tide. Even Martha Stewart posts to Instagram when it happens!

Barley Beach

Not even a mile west of Seal Harbor Beach, you’ll come to the causeway between Bracy Cove and Little Long Pond. The rocky beach facing the cove is Barley Beach. It might as well be called “Barely” Beach since it’s barely there.

A rock seawall would require minor scrambling to reach the flat surface of the beach. The high tide won’t leave much room to walk. You will see a small pull-out parking area, and a carriage road leads up along the shore of Little Long Pond with a water access point just a few steps in — part of the Land & Garden Preserve.

Echo Lake-Acadia National Park
Echo Lake | photo via musings_of_a_wanderlust

Echo Lake Beach

How did a sandy beach end up at the south end of a glacier-created body of freshwater? This part of Acadia National Park was home to a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) group in the 1930s. They built this as a recreation area, importing sand to create the beach, which now mixes in with glacial silt.

As the only freshwater beach swimming hole in the park, it gets crowded on hot summer days. Swimming is allowed only from May 15 through September 15. Restrooms are available on-site, and a paved path now makes the beach and bathrooms wheelchair-accessible.

Seawall

If you find a photo of a stunning Seawall Beach in Maine, with long stretches of mocha-colored sand – it’s not this one. That’s the one near Morse Mountain in Phippsburg.

Before you get too bummed about that, there’s something special in the waterfront at Sewall you can’t find anywhere else in Maine. At first blush, it looks like another cobblestone beach. However, this is “Seawall,” a place formed by fire, water, and pressure.

Instead of the granite that dominates the island, this is a series of rocks formed by powerful volcanoes. The volcanic tuff is known as the Cranberry Island Series, formed up to 400 million years ago.

This rocky beach is more than another beautiful site. The wave energy shoves rocks onto the beach, and the water withdrawal only takes smaller rocks (and any hope of sand) with it. This forms a natural seawall. One of Acadia’s most popular campsites, Seawall Campground, is on the other side of the road from this dramatic beach.

Wonderland Trail Beach-Acadia
Wonderland Trail Beach | photo via ristich54

Wonderland Trail Beach

The Wonderland Trail access is just one mile from Seawall Picnic Area. A lollipop loop takes you around to Bennet Cove, where some of the best tidepooling on the Downeast coastline awaits. Just be sure to visit at low tide.

The trail threads through a coastal forest, with just 1.4 miles of a relatively flat path that was once a road. The bedrock here is granite, in a stunning peach/pink tinge that appears to almost glow in the sun. Once at the shore, walk around to the west, where a cove awaits. At low tide, you can connect to the Ship Harbor Trail.

Hadley Point Beach-Acadia
Hadley Point Beach | photo via megan_hanscom

Hadley Point Beach

At the northernmost tip of Mount Desert Island, Hadley Point is less of a beach and more of a water access point and clamming location with mud flats where the water meets land.

Whether you want to get your hands dirty looking for clams (be sure to get a shellfish license) or paddle out into the calmer waters of the Mount Desert Narrows, be sure to plan that around sunset at Hadley Point.

For the best access to the mudflats, go at low tide.

Hulls Cove Beach

Take a morning walk or bike ride from Bar Harbor to Hulls Cove and watch the sun come up. When the tide is low, you can walk surprisingly far into the cobblestone landscape.

If you’re driving, park alongside the road in the designated areas. Just be sure to stick to the public beach and don’t walk too far around the edge to the private properties.

If you like the views here, plenty of restaurants and rentals are available with views just as good of Frenchman’s Bay. Acadia National Park’s Hulls Cove Visitor Center is just a half mile south.

George Dorr’s Pebble Beach (Old Farm)

If you take the Compass Harbor Trail near Main Street and Old Farm Road, you’ll be walking in the footsteps of the Father of Acadia. George Dorr never married, having devoted his heart, soul, and inheritance to preserving the park.

The path splits, with one taking you to a small rocky neck, the other to a cobblestone beach, one of the many places Dorr liked to swim in any season.

Dorr’s beloved Old Farm is now nothing but stone walls and an old fountain, but don’t be surprised if you see the spirit of Dorr and his faithful caretaker wandering this shoreline — a place Dorr considered heaven on Earth anyway.

Schoodic Point-Acadia
Schoodic Point | photo via trailname_ziplock

Schoodic Point

Over on the Schoodic Peninsula, the “Quiet Side of Acadia,” you can’t beat the views at Schoodic Point. As a bonus, flat, weathered granite slabs greet you, offering a place to sit comfortably without walking on pebbles or boulders.

Waves pound these rocks, so stay where it’s dry and don’t turn your back on the sea. Whether you’re bold enough to walk right up to the edge of the water or prefer to stay back from the rocky edges, there’s room for everyone here.

Blueberry Hill Parking Area Beach

Just a mile east, a parking area for the trailhead up to the Anvil or Schoodic Head Trail also offers another rugged coastline look. This access point is more expert-level for the slabs of granite mixed with everything from pebbles to boulders, none of which offer secure footing.

If you’re steady on your feet, you’ll likely have this view all to yourself.

Seawall-Acadia
Seawall | photo via paigehannaguthriecox

More Beaches to Explore

The most popular beaches in Maine are tested between Memorial Day and Labor Day as part of the Maine Healthy Beaches initiative. On Mount Desert Island, that includes Hadley Point, Hulls Cove, Town Beach, Sand Beach, and Seal Harbor.

Another safety aspect concerns the south-facing beaches. During tropical storms and nor’easters, waves can crash onto the beach, seawall, road, and parking areas. Seawall, Seal Habor, Sand Beach, and Otter Cove are particularly risky in storms. Check park conditions before you go to the beach.

One last thing — While good ole George Dorr liked swimming in the cold waters, you probably will not. The warmest the saltwater gets is about 58 degrees.

Discover One of Acadia’s Hidden Beaches For Yourself

The beaches of Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island are truly a sight to behold, treating visitors to swaths of sandy beaches and incredible views of Maine’s coast. If you know where to go and where to look, the beaches of Acadia are hidden pockets of paradise, waiting for you to come and explore!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *