Dotted with lobster shacks, sandy beaches and dramatic seascapes, Maine’s rugged coastline stretches almost 3,500 miles and draws vast numbers of visitors every year. While the summer months attract kite surfers, kayakers, and anglers, winter is perhaps when the northernmost US state’s seaboard is perhaps at its most atmospheric, with ocean waves crashing against the rocky shore with that bit more ferocity.
Maine has so many stunning beaches, it’s hard to know where to start. Whatever your preferred coastal activity – whether it’s sunbathing, surfing, or sea shell hunting with your kids – there’ll be something to satisfy every taste. To help inspire you, we’ve picked out 12 of the most charming beaches and beach towns that Maine has to offer.
Lamoine Beach, Lamoine
This delightful half-mile stretch of sandy beach offers picture-postcard views of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island and Cadillac Mountain. The nearby Lamoine State Park is a popular spot with visitors thanks to its communal outdoor grills, hot showers, picnic tables, campsites and restrooms. The low-key town of Lamoine itself is best known for its small boat building industry, and several lobster fishermen who work from the town’s harbour at the State Park.
Winslow Memorial Park, Freeport
Situated in the scenic waterfront town of Freeport, this small tidal beach makes for a superb day trip. Visitors can bring their four-legged friends to walk the trails along the water, lap up the beach or settle down for a picnic on the soothing sand. The nearby park is an ideal spot for kids, with camping facilities, playgrounds, picnic tables and walking paths. The town is enjoyable to wander around and is particularly popular with shoppers thanks to its numerous retail outlets.
Crescent Beach, Cape Elizabeth
Nestled in the pretty town of Cape Elizabeth, a short drive from Portland, this long 1.6 kilometre crescent-shaped beach is a popular haunt with young families who come to enjoy its gentle waters, shaded picnic area and plenty of amenities. Beach walkers and kite flyers also gravitate here in their droves, while scenic views of lobster boats and an offshore private preserve make for ideal photo opportunities. For refreshments, a beachside snack bar is handily placed, or traverse the boardwalk for a greater variety of eatery options. Or for an even more memorable culinary adventure, an easy drive will bring you to Portland, where Maine Foodie Tours host regular guided trips to some of the foodie hot spots and local favourites.
Hills Beach, Biddeford
Close to atmospheric wetlands, this small and sandy 500-yard stretch of beach has plenty of appeal for both adults and kids alike. Located in the pleasant city of Biddeford, there’s convenient free parking, although on sunny days many visitors choose to cycle or walk here before cooling off in the tranquil ocean waters. Meanwhile the city of Biddeford is home to a thriving arts community as well as several microbreweries.
Willard Beach, South Portland
A small sand and pebble beach perched between Fisherman’s Point and the campus of Southern Maine Community College, Willard Beach is a perennial favourite with both Portland locals and those travelling from further afield. The beach offers superb views of Cushing Island and Ram Island Light in Casco Bay, providing the perfect back drop for swimmers and sunbathers. There’s also a bathhouse here, open all summer long and with a snack bar and showers. A short walk from the beach’s northern end is the still-in-operation Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. Or for a truly memorable local activity, a 15-minute drive from the beach along the Fore River highway bypass takes you to the starting point for a Portland Ghost Tour, hosted by Wicked Walking Tours. Join them for 75 action-packed minutes, during which local, professional actors and comedians transform Maine’s dark history into theatre and fun.
Long Sands Beach, York
In keeping with its name, this vast stretch of sandy beach extends for pushing two miles and is a popular spot with surfing enthusiasts thanks to its impressive waves. The local scenery isn’t half bad too, with the famous Nubble Lighthouse providing an impressive beacon on the landscape. More prosaically, amenities are good here too, with metered parking available for the entire length of the beach and several food shacks, motels and general stores to be found nearby.
Ogunquit Beach, Ogunquit
A magnet for families and beach sports fans, this buzzing 3.5 mile long expanse of sandy shoreline hums with activity, while managing to retain its prettiness and overall charm. Volleyball, botche ball and frisbee are just some of the recreational activities that regularly take place here, while nearby facilities include food shacks, ice cream salons, restaurant and boutique shops. There’s also ample parking spots within an easy walk away.
Popham Beach, Phippsburg
Considered by many to be Maine’s most attractive unspoiled beaches, this three-mile beach enjoys a dramatic setting, encompassing some 530 acres at the mouth of the thundering waters of the Kennebec River. There are sandbars and tidal pools that can be enjoyed by little ones at low tide, while picnic areas with BBQ grills, walking trails and an abundance of diverse and impressive wildlife offer plenty more allure, if it were needed.
Sand Beach, Acadia National Park
One of the most well-known beaches in Maine is also one of its most exquisitely charming. Part of the fabulous Acadia National Park, with its landscape of woodland, rocky beaches and glacier-scoured granite peaks, Sand Beach is small in size but large in appeal, thanks in large part to its pink sands comprising millions of pulverised shells, magnificent backdrop of rock walls and distant views out to sea. The beach is also a popular stop off for those embarking on regional road trips.
Scarborough Beach, Scarborough
One of Maine’s best surfing spots, Scarborough Beach is located within a superb state park that draws visitors from far and wide. A long, wide, dune-backed sandy swath, the beach offers excellent facilities to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable day out, including a snack bar, restrooms, parking, and chair, umbrella and boogie board rentals. It comes with a fun fact too: distinguished American artist Winslow Homer painted many of his acclaimed works from his studio here.