8 Top-Rated Beaches in Maine
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When you think of Maine, the most northern state in the east, most people would be surprised to learn it boasts more coastline than California. However, granite rocks and windswept pines scenically line most of that mileage, making water access difficult. The coveted 70 miles of sandy shores are properly enjoyed and treasured by all who make the trip north.
Inviting, crystal-clear waters will ease any hesitation to dip into what can be frosty temperatures.
Maritime history in the Pine Tree State is everywhere, as are an abundance of picturesque lighthouses and seafood shanties. It won't take visitors long to appreciate what a unique coastal destination Maine's beaches offer. With more than 5,000 miles of shoreline, visitors can rest assured that they will be able to find a wide variety of beach experiences.
Jewel-like coves; craggy, impressive cliffs; and some of the top sandy beaches in the United States make for an unforgettable vacation in Maine. Find the top areas to relax by the sea with our list of the best beaches in Maine.
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1. Kennebunk Beach
While the Kennebunks might be well-known for their shopping, this area can also boast about some beautiful beaches. Kennebunk Beach, aka Mother's Beach, is a short and sandy section with protected waters and awesome views. The sand here is a good example of the concept of sand as talcum powder - soft and gentle on the feet.
The ribbons of beaches all connect to one another. Stickers are required from June thru September and can be obtained at Town Hall. Amenities are few, but there are portable toilets and seasonal lifeguards. Children will enjoy the new playground. Dogs are welcome on the beach off-season before 9am and after 5pm, and must be under the control of their owners. Make sure to check the calendar for different activities and festivals taking place throughout the year.
The Kennebunks are renowned for their fantastic bed-and-breakfast accommodations. Combining history and charm, Captain Fairfield Inn, 1802 House Bed & Breakfast Inn, and The Captain Jefferds Inn are a few favorites that also offer sumptuous breakfasts, keeping guests returning year after year.
The Nonantum Resort is an excellent option for families or those looking for an extra-special getaway, offering an astounding range of on-site activities and amenities. The resort has an outdoor heated pool equipped with kids' toys and a fence for safety, as well as a kids' club so parents can enjoy a little time to themselves. There is on-site entertainment and dining, and the resort is close to Dock Square; a free shuttle to area attractions is also available for guests, as well as trolley and boat tours.
Address: Beach Avenue, Near Routes 9 & 35, Kennebunk, Maine
2. Wells Beach
Sandwiched between the Wells Beach Jetty and Crescent Beach, this 1.5-mile stretch of sand on the coast of Southern Maine is a postcard-worthy version of what comes to mind with the thought of a traditional New England beach experience. Seagrass and dunes act as a buffer from Atlantic Avenue. The tidal pools and marshes offer wonderful spots for kids' exploration, and the jetty is a popular spot for anglers. The beauty and location of this area makes it popular in the off-season as well.
Adventurers who like to get on the water will find access for kayaks and boats in the area. Free parking can be found at the end of Mile Road, and closer to the beach are some private homes and resorts offering parking for a fee. Amenities include restroom facilities, a snack bar, and gift shops, as well as an arcade and a few restaurants.
Adjacent Moody, Crescent, and Drake's Islands provide additional options along this stretch of Southern Maine. Nearby, golf courses are plentiful, and lighthouse boat tours are also available.
For the typical New England bed-and-breakfast experience, the Holiday Guest House Bed & Breakfast is a good choice for couples who want a romantic getaway in Wells. This adults-only B&B features both the beach and a pool, as well as a lovely terrace and on-site entertainment. The Elmwood Resort Hotel is an excellent option for families, offering a large pool and suites with up to three bedrooms and fully equipped kitchens.
Address: Atlantic Ave., Wells Beach, Wells, Maine
3. Sand Beach, Acadia National Park
The granite and spruce islands of Acadia National Park make it a top selection for visitors who love the outdoors. In addition to amazing hiking trails with scenic views that can reach into Canada, Sand Beach is a desirable spot tucked into a small bay off Mount Desert Island.
Shells smoothed by years of pounding surf replace sand in most parts, and temperatures in the salty water can be frigid. The beach is just shy of 1,000 feet, with access through the park entrance. A lifeguard is on duty during the summer season, and restrooms and changing rooms are on-site. Oceanside trails follow the cliffs close by the beach for some dramatic views, and a shuttle bus offers access to different drop-off points.
While there are no hotels directly in the park, the closest, Asticou Inn, is two miles away in Northeast Harbor. Don't miss the nearby Asticou Azalea Garden and the inn's popovers. In addition, the Holiday Inn Bar Harbor Regency offers a pool and Frenchman's Bay views. Kimball Terrace Inn is good value for families, quietly removed from the crowds of Bar Harbor and offering free parking and Wi-Fi, as well as pet-friendly rooms.
Address: Park Loop Road, Acadia National Park, Mt. Desert Island, Maine
4. Crescent Beach, Cape Elizabeth
The aptly named Crescent Beach is one of Maine's prettiest spots. Along with the sandy oceanfront and saltwater coves, there are hiking trails along the water's edge and excellent facilities for lovers of water sports. Fishing, birdwatching, and of course, sunbathing are favorite activities.
The dunes, dotted with seagrass, frame the picnic areas and there is a snackbar and restroom facilities. During low tide, visitors can make their way out to Richmond Island. Portland Paddle offers SUP rentals and sea kayak tours from the beach. There is a fee to enter the park, and if you're a family and will be visiting many Maine State Parks, a yearly pass is a good idea.
The splurge-worthy Inn by the Sea is a pet-friendly beach resort with all the bells and whistles. Choose from rooms in the main building or suites with kitchenettes and porch balconies. The spa and Sea Glass restaurant offer an elegant menu of the best local fresh ingredients. Venturing into Portland, about five miles away, good value can be found at the Holiday Inn Portland By The Bay and Best Western Merry Manor Inn.
Address: 66 Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
5. Ogunquit Beach
Native Americans properly named the Ogunquit area beautiful place by the sea. About 3.5 miles of coastline stretches along the Atlantic, where the Ogunquit River meets the ocean. Often rated in lists of top beaches around the country, this white sandy stretch, where shallow waters and sandbars are the norm, can get very crowded in the summer. Make plans to arrive early and park yourself for a day of sunshine and fun. The mild surf makes it a great location for families.
Taking advantage of the ocean views, the The Sparhawk Oceanfront Resort is perfectly located in this seaside town, where the Ogunquit River meets the sea. Make sure to get a room with a balcony. If you are willing to move a few blocks from the ocean, The Colonial Inn is a historic property with fully updated amenities, including a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, wraparound porch, and complimentary breakfasts; pet-friendly rooms are available, as are family suites.
6. Old Orchard Beach
History and tradition mark the nostalgic vibe at Maine's Old Orchard Beach. Welcoming visitors for more than 170 years, this seven-mile stretch offers beachgoers the only beachfront amusement park in New England. Sitting on four acres of prime property, Palace Playland Park features a Ferris wheel, a huge arcade, and more than 20 rides for both children and the young at heart.
While Mother Nature has taken her toll on the different restored versions of the park, the rebuilt pier stretches out 500 feet into the Atlantic Ocean and is the center of family fun. Fireworks light the sky at least once a week (check the calendar), and lifeguards are on duty during the season.
Nearby, you can find whale watching or bird-watching tours. Golf is available at the Dunegrass Club. Amtrak offers the convenient Downeaster to avoid traffic and deliver you within steps of the beach after a relaxing journey to the shore.
The shoreline of Old Orchard Beach is literally lined with options for hotel stays. The Sea View Inn offers great value for families, a walk to the beach, and free Wi-Fi and parking. For those seeking a bit more luxury, The Beach House is right on the sand, offering free parking and Wi-Fi and rooms with kitchenettes and private balconies facing the ocean.
Address: Seaside Avenue, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
7. Popham Beach, Phippsburg
Many call Popham beach one of the most undeveloped beaches in Maine. From year to year, the shifting sands change the shoreline, but never the beauty of this beach. The three-mile sweep of sand is an unspoiled paradise for summer visitors. Surfers and strong swimmers are lured by the rolling waves, but caution is urged of the area's strong current and occasional riptide.
At low tide, tourists can make their way to the nearby Fox Island; just take care to watch the timing of the incoming tide. This scenic spot is a beach to suit many different interests.
Nearby in Sebasco Estates, the Sebasco Harbor Resort has water views and a wide range of activities for the entire family, including a golf course, tennis courts, outdoor pool, boating, fishing, and hiking. There is also a kids' club and babysitting available, perfect for when the grown-ups want to get pampered at the on-site spa.
Address: 10 Perkins Farm Lane, Phippsburg, Maine
8. Higgins Beach, Scarborough
Care for a shipwreck with your beach experience? You'll want to head to Higgins Beach for an unusual scenic display in the sand that makes for a great photo op. At low tide, this historic spot is complete with the skeleton of a boat exposed directly in the sand. Located at the end of a charming residential summer neighborhood, Higgins is well-known for warmer water temperatures, a surfer vibe, and good fishing. A short drive away are two state parks, as well as great settings for kayaking.
Parking can be tricky, but staying at Higgins Beach Inn, a short walk away, solves the problem. The on-site restaurant has a great reputation for tasty seafood. Surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic, the Black Point Inn Resort is a charming property saturated with many years of history. The rugged coastline Maine is known for shines bright at the tip of Prouts Neck, and you'll find excellent dining on-site. The ambiance and ocean views make for a memorable experience.
Address: Bayview Avenue, Scarborough, Maine