Crescent beach state park, Cape Elizabeth
Just 20 minutes south-east of Portland, this 1.6km crescent-shaped, dune-backed beach is a favourite with young families, who appreciate the gentle surf, lifeguards, restrooms, snack bar and shady picnic area. It’s also popular among beach walkers and kite flyers, thanks to its length. The serene views extend from lobster boats bobbing in the waters of Kettle Cove to Richmond Island, a 200-acre private preserve just offshore. Elevate the views and escape mundane snack-bar fare by putting on shirts and sandals and walking up the boardwalk to the Inn by the Sea for lunch, perhaps lobster rolls, on the deck.
• Route 77, Cape Elizabeth, +1 207 767 3625, parksandlands.com
Long Sands beach, York
Look out to the Nubble Light from Long Sands Beach, a 2.4km swath of sand. Like most Maine beaches, it is grand at low tide, but at high tide, it shrinks to a sliver. When the tide’s out, Long Sands is a playground for castle builders, kite flyers, and frisbee and ball games; when it turns, the waves attract surfers. Backing the beach is a street lined with lodgings, restaurants and shops, handy for grabbing lunch or beach toys. Bring quarters: metered street parking is 25¢ an hour. Afterwards, visit the lighthouse and get ice-cream at Brown’s.
• Route 1A, York Beach, +1 207 363 4422, gatewaytomaine.org
Ogunquit beach, Ogunquit
Credit Maine’s indigenous Abenaki people for naming Ogunquit, which translates as “beautiful place by the sea”, and the late 19th-century artists’ colony for sharing with the world the 3.5 mile-long beach fringed with sea grass and dunes. When the tide recedes, it goes way out, leaving pocket pools, shallow waters and sandbars. When it rises, be careful of strong currents created by the tidal river behind the beach. Check a tidal chart before visiting: at high tide, the beach all but disappears. Even during the busy peak season, it’s possible to find space by walking north from the Main Beach crowds.
• Beach Street, Ogunquit, +1 207 646 2939, ogunquit.org
Laudholm beach, Wells
You’ll have to hike to this relatively isolated section of beach that’s part of the Wells national estuarine research reserve at Laudholm. Pick up a trail map at the visitor centre, in a former 19th-century farmhouse. The easy 1.5km Barrier Beach trail passes by a maple swamp and marsh before reaching the dune-backed powdery sands of Laudholm, the least busy of Wells’s beaches. Once on the sands, turn north and continue to the mouth of the Little river to view the barrier beaches and the adjacent Rachel Carson national wildlife reserve. Bring binoculars for birdwatching.
• 324 Laudholm Farm Road, off Route 1, Wells, +1 207 646 1555, wellsreserve.org
Goose Rocks beach, Kennebunkport
Let’s get the cons out of the way: parking is extremely limited and a permit is required (available at the General Store), some local property owners can be downright nasty, and there are no facilities other than a portable toilet. So why go? Goose Rocks is lovely, a three-mile strand backed by dunes. At low tide, comb the beach for sand dollars and other gifts from the sea. Bring binoculars to watch for seals sunbathing on the offshore rocks. One of the best ways to enjoy this beach is with a cocktail in hand on the porch of the Tides Beach Club, especially at sunset.
• King’s Highway, off Route 1, Kennebunkport, +1 207 967 0857, visitthekennebunks.com
Old Orchard beach, Old Orchard
Yes it’s crowded, but fans of 11.2km-long Old Orchard beach would have it no other way. Quiet sands – including Scarborough’s Pine Point and Saco’s Camp Ellis – fringe the outskirts, but Old Orchard is famed for its beachside amusement park and historic pier. Go for the sand and the people-watching. Breathe in the scents of pizza, fried dough and French fries. Listen to the French-Canadian accents riding on the breeze. Ride the ferris wheel, carousel and rollercoasters, and stroll along the pier. Be prepared for the pay for toilets (50¢) and be warned that the bars can get raucous at night.
• Grand Avenue/Route 9, Old Orchard Beach, +1 207 934 2500, oldorchardbeachmaine.com
Scarborough beach state park, Scarborough
American master Winslow Homer painted many of his iconic works from his studio on Prouts Neck, a granite-tipped finger of land reaching seaward just south of Portland. Also here is Scarborough beach, a long, wide, dune-backed sand swath. Facilities include the Shack, which sells food and rents chairs, umbrellas and boogie boards. If you plan to brave the chilly waters, do so in the designated lifeguard area, as rip currents sometimes occur. Between the parking lot and the beach is Massacre Pond, site of a 1703 skirmish between indigenous residents and wannabe settlers; of 21 settlers, 20 were slain.
• 418 Blackpoint Road, Scarborough, +1 207 883 2416, scarboroughbeachstatepark.com
Popham beach state park, Phippsburg
Mother Nature hasn’t been kind to Popham, at the mouth of the Kennebec River and near the site of a short-lived 1607 British settlement and a fort dating from 1861. Storms have eroded the dunes and reduced the beach to a shadow at high tide but, at low tide, when you can walk for miles in the sand, it’s a gem. Check the tide times if you’re planning to walk out on the sandbar to rocky Fox Island, one of two nearby islands, or risk being marooned. Further offshore is Seguin Island lighthouse. There are toilets, but no food service.
• 10 Perkins Farm Lane, off Route 209, Phippsburg, +1 207 389 1335, visitmaine.com
Reid State Park, Georgetown
It’s worth the long drive down the Georgetown peninsula, just north of Bath, to find this nature-lovers’ dream with sandy beaches, salt marshes, grassy dunes, a tidal river, a lagoon and rocky headlands. Search for sand dollars along the Mile and Half Mile beaches; pad up Griffith Head for sweeping views of the island-studded seascape; seek treasures in the tidal pools; scan the skies for bald eagles and ospreys. There are toilets and picnic tables, but no food service, so plan to end the day at nearby Five Islands Lobster Co, one of Maine’s best and most scenic lobster shacks.
• 375 Seguinland Road, Georgetown, +1 207 371 2303, visitmaine.com
Sand Beach, Acadia national park
Sand Beach is one of the prizes of Acadia national park. This pocket beach, edging a cove between Great Head and Gorham Mountain, is remarkable not only for its rare existence on Maine’s craggy coastline, but also for its pink sands, comprising zillions of pulverised shells. Go for the mesmerising scenery, enrol kids in the park’s Super Sand Sleuths programme, clamber over the boulders, wade in the stream, hike Great Head for the views, but don’t plan on swimming: the water temperature rarely exceeds 13C. Avoid the crowds by visiting before 10am or after 2pm.
• Off Park Loop Road, Bar Harbor, +1 207 288 3338, nps.gov/acad
Maine-based Hilary Nangle is the author of three Moon-series guidebooks: Moon Maine, Moon Coastal Maine, and Moon Acadia National Park. She shares her Maine travels on MaineTravelMaven.com
• For more information on holidays in the USA, visit DiscoverAmerica.com
Source: Read Full Article