Most people would be astonished to find that Maine, the northern-most state in the east, has more coastline than California. However, the majority of that distance is lined by granite boulders and windswept pine trees, making water availability problematic. Everyone who makes the trip north enjoys and treasures the prized 70-mile coastline of some of the best beaches in Maine.
Welcoming, crystal-clear seas will relieve any fears and concerns about diving into potentially chilly waters. Marine history, as well as a plethora of scenic lighthouses and seafood shacks, thrive throughout the Pine Tree State. It won’t take long for visitors to realize how unique Maine’s beaches are as a coastal getaway. With almost 5,000 miles of shoreline, tourists may be guaranteed to discover a wide range of beach activities.
The crimson coves, rocky, majestic cliffs, and some of the best beaches in Maine, make for an amazing trip. With this list, you can find the greatest places to unwind by the sea.
Editor’s note: Travel restrictions apply during COVID-19, therefore some of these locations may be temporarily closed or require pre-registration. Always double-check before leaving, and heed local health advice.
Best Beaches in Maine
Kennebunk is a small town with few tourist hotspots aside from its beautiful beaches. Kennebunk port is located just across the river from Kennebunk’s Lower Village, which is lined with shops and local amenities. The modest Colony Beach on Ocean Ave, which is overshadowed by the Colony Hotel, is Kennebunkport’s only expanse of sand. Thankfully, that isn’t the only beach in the area.
Beach Ave and Sea Road lead to three excellent public beaches: Middle Beach, Mother’s Beach, and our personal favorite, Gooch’s Beach, all of which are collectively referred to as Kennebunk Beach.
Apart from having a great name, Gooch Beach has vast, sandy portions that are ideal for individuals who are tired of the normal ‘rocks and cliffs’ appearance of the Maine coast. From mid-June to mid-September, beach parking licenses are necessary; non-residents pay $25 per day, $100 per week, and $200 per season.
Regarded as one of the best beaches in Maine, Kennebunk Beach is a short stretch of sand with calm waters and stunning vistas. This sand is an excellent example of sand as talcum powder – smooth and soothing on the feet.
The beach ribbons are all connected to one another. From June to September, tickets are required and can be bought at Town Hall. Portable bathrooms and seasonal lifeguards are among the few amenities available. The new playground is a hit with the kids. Off-season, dogs are allowed on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m., but they must be under the custody of their owners. Make sure to keep an eye on the calendar for various activities and festivals throughout the year.
The Kennebunks is well-known for its excellent bed-and-breakfast establishments. Captain Fairfield Inn, 1802 House Bed & Breakfast Inn, and The Captain Jefferds Inn are just a handful of the many favorites that offer exquisite breakfasts that keep guests coming back year after year.
Locals refer to Wells as the “friendliest town in Maine,” and it is the epitome of a peaceful seaside village. At low tide, the Webhannet River separates Wells Beach from the main island, providing sand dunes, seagrass, and miles of continuous shoreline of one of the best beaches in Maine. Drake’s Island Beach is great for bodysurfing and strolling, while Crescent Beach includes tide pools full of crabs and other sea creatures. When you need respite from the sun, Wells has over 25 antique shops selling everything from antique furniture to beautiful porcelain and handcrafted quilts.
This 1.5-mile expanse of sand on the coast of Southern Maine, wedged between the Wells Beach Jetty and Crescent Beach, is a postcard-worthy depiction of what comes to mind when thinking of a conventional New England beach vacation. Atlantic Avenue is buffered by seagrass and dunes. The tidal pools and marshes are great places for kids to explore, and the jetty is a favorite fishing spot. The area’s beauty and position make it popular even in the off-season.
Kayaks and boats are available for rent in the neighborhood for explorers who enjoy being on the water. There is free parking at the end of Mile Road, and some private residences and resorts offer parking for a fee closer to the beach. Restrooms, a food court, and gift stores, as well as an arcade and a few diners, are available.
Along this area of Southern Maine, the nearby Moody, Crescent, and Drake’s Islands offer additional alternatives. There are numerous golf courses nearby, as well as lighthouse boat cruises.
The Holiday Guest House Bed & Breakfast in Wells is a fantastic alternative for couples looking for a traditional New England bed-and-breakfast experience. This B&B for adults only has a beach and a hot tub, as well as a magnificent terrace and on-site activities. With a huge pool and suites with up to three bedrooms and fully furnished kitchens, the Elmwood Resort Hotel is a fantastic choice for families.
3Sand Beach, Acadia National Park
This magnificent length of sandy shoreline, and one of the best beaches in Maine situated on the east side of Mount Desert Island, is one of Acadia’s most surprising features. The beach is around 300 meters long and attracts sunbathers, strollers, and a few brave souls willing to withstand the frigid water temps year-round for a dip. From here, a lovely hiking track begins. Sand Beach is well-marked and well-liked. Take advantage of the free shuttle service or arrive early to find a parking spot.
Acadia National Park’s granite and spruce islands make it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. In most places, the sand has been replaced by polished shells smoothed by years of pounding ocean, and the salty water can be extremely cold. The beach is a little over 1,000 feet long and may be reached via the park entrance. During the summertime, a lifeguard is on duty, and there are restrooms and change rooms on site. Oceanside pathways follow the cliffs along the beach for some spectacular vistas, and a shuttle bus connects various drop-off spots.
In spite of being one of the best beaches in Maine, there are no accommodations directly in the park, the closest is the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor, which is two miles distant. The neighboring Asticou Azalea Garden and the inn’s popovers are not to be missed. The Holiday Inn Bar Harbor Regency also has a pool and sights of Frenchman’s Bay. Kimball Terrace Inn is a terrific deal for families, offering free parking, Wi-Fi, and pet-friendly accommodations while being peacefully isolated from the throng of Bar Harbor.
4Crescent Beach, Cape Elizabeth
Crescent Beach, as its name suggests, is one of Maine’s most beautiful locations and one of the best beaches in Maine. There are hiking routes along the water’s edge, as well as good facilities for water sports enthusiasts, in addition to the sandy coastline and saltwater coves. Favorite pastimes include fishing, birdwatching, and, of course, swimming.
The picnic spaces are framed by dunes dotted with seagrass, and there is a snack bar and restrooms. Tourists can travel out to Richmond Island during low tide. SUP rentals and sea kayak cruises are available from the beach at Portland Paddle. There is a cost to enter the park, and a yearly pass is a smart option if you’re a family who will be visiting several Maine State Parks.
The opulent Inn by the Sea is a pet-friendly beach resort complete with all the trimmings. Rooms in the main building and suites with kitchenettes and patio balconies are available. The Sea Glass restaurant and spa serve an excellent meal made with the freshest locally sourced ingredients. The Holiday Inn Portland By The Bay and the Best Western Merry Manor Inn are both good value for money if you venture into Portland, which is around five miles away.
The Ogunquit location was appropriately termed a “beautiful spot by the sea” by Native Americans. Where the Ogunquit River meets the ocean, the coastline spans for about 3.5 miles along the Atlantic. This white sandy beach, where shallow waves and sandbars are common, is frequently mentioned in lists of the best beaches in Maine. Make preparations to start early and park yourself for a fun-filled day in the sun. It’s ideal for families because of the gentle waves.
Ogunquit Beach is a five-minute walk east of US 1 along Beach St, a beautiful stretch of family-friendly shoreline. In the summer, hiking to the beach is a good option because the parking lot fills up quickly and parking costs $4 per hour. The 3-mile beach faces Ogunquit Bay to the south, with the warmer waters of the tidal Ogunquit River to the west. Footbridge Beach, 2 miles north of Wells, is actually Ogunquit Beach’s northern expansion. The best way to get to Little Beach, which is near the small lighthouse on Marginal Way, is on foot.
The Sparhawk Oceanfront Resort is well positioned in this seaside hamlet, where the Ogunquit River meets the sea, to enjoy the benefits of the views of the ocean. Make a point of booking a room with a balcony. The Colonial Inn is a historic building with completely updated services, along with a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, a surrounding terrace, and complimentary breakfasts; pet-friendly rooms and family suites are available if you are prepared to move a few blocks from the shore.
6Old Orchard Beach
Old Orchard Beach is the archetypal beach playground, with candy stores, entertainment areas, and neon-lit trinket shacks where sunbathers may have a good time. Old Orchard, one of the best beaches in Maine, has long been a favorite summer vacation for Quebecois families, hence the ambiance isn’t as Americana-esque as you might imagine.
The nostalgic ambiance at Maine’s Old Orchard Beach is marked by history and tradition. This seven-mile length of coastline has been welcoming guests for over 170 years and is home to New England’s first beachfront amusement park. Palace Playland Park, which is on four acres of great real estate, contains a Ferris wheel, a massive arcade, and more than 20 rides for both youngsters and the young at heart.
While Mother Nature has taken its toll on the several renovated models of the park, the restored pier stretches out 500 feet into the Atlantic Ocean and is the hub of family entertainment. At least once a week, fireworks light up the sky, and lifeguards are on duty throughout the season.
Whale viewing and bird-watching cruises are available nearby, making this one of the best beaches in Maine for wildlife photographers and nature lovers. At the Dunegrass Club, you can play golf. After a leisurely journey to the beach, Amtrak offers the handy Downeaster to bypass traffic and transport you within feet of the beach.
The motel possibilities along the Old Orchard Beach beachfront are almost endless. The Sea View Inn is a wonderful deal for families, with free Wi-Fi and parking and a short stroll to the beach. The Beach House, situated on the sand, offers free parking, Wi-Fi, and rooms with cooking facilities and private ocean terraces for those seeking a little more luxury.
7Popham Beach, Phippsburg
With views of offshore islands and the Kennebec and Morse Rivers framing each end, this 6-mile-long sandy strip is one of the most beautiful in the neighborhood, and one of the best beaches in Maine. In July and August, lifeguards are on duty, but be careful that the surf is rough, with undertows and riptides. It’s roughly 14 miles south of Bath, off ME 209. The remnants of Fort Popham, a Civil War-era stronghold near the mouth of the Kennebec River, are a few miles further down ME 209.
Popham Beach is often regarded as one of Maine’s most unspoiled beaches. The shoreline changes from year to year, but the beauty of this beach never does. For summer visitors, the three-mile stretch of beach is an unspoiled paradise. The rolling waves attract surfers and strong swimmers, although the area’s strong current and occasional riptide should be avoided.
Tourists can visit adjacent Fox Island at low tide, but they must be aware of the timing of the incoming tide. This beautiful beach caters to a wide range of interests.
The Sebasco Harbor Resort, located in Sebasco Estates, offers water vistas and a variety of family-friendly activities, including a golf course, tennis courts, outdoor swimming pool, kayaking, fishing, and trekking. There’s also a kids’ club and babysitting services, which are ideal for when the adults want to relax in the on-site spa.
8Higgins Beach, Scarborough
Do you want to combine your beach vacation with a shipwreck? Higgins Beach has an amazingly beautiful display in the sand and is one of the best beaches in Maine that provides an excellent photo opportunity. This historic location is replete with the skeleton of a boat visible immediately in the sand at low tide. Higgins is well-known for warmer water temps, a surfer atmosphere, and exceptional fishing. It is located at the end of a nice residential summer area. Two state parks, as well as excellent kayaking spots, are just a short drive away.
Parking is difficult, but staying at the Higgins Beach Inn, which is only a short walk away, addresses the problem. The on-site restaurant is known for its delicious seafood. The Black Point Inn Resort, which is flanked on three sides by the Atlantic, is a lovely place steeped in history. At the point of Prouts Neck, the rocky coastline that Maine is famed for shines brightly, and there’s superb eating on-site. The atmosphere and views of the water combine for an unforgettable experience.