Now that summer is in full swing, we’re rounding up some of the best beach picks from Globe staffers to help readers explore New England’s coveted coastlines.
The water may be colder, the coastline rockier, and in some spots you might as well be in Canada — but Maine’s beaches draw visitors from all over the country. From long stretches of rugged shoreline to sprawling white sand flats that go for miles, beachgoers will find no shortage of quintessential New England charm. Southern Maine beaches are known for their smoother, sandy landscape, while the further north you go, beaches become more secluded, scenic, and windswept. Maine’s coveted coastline is enjoyed by all who make the trip, and we’ve rounded up a few we think readers would like.
Here’s a look at some of the best beaches in Maine:
Old Orchard Beach
This beach lays claim to seven miles of sand that seem to go on forever. At the center is the famed Old Orchard Pier, which features an amusement park that is considered one of the last remaining oceanfront amusement parks in the country. Kids and families can enjoy the excitement of the pier, and beachgoers looking for a quieter day can head to either the northern or southern ends of the beach. Consistently voted Maine’s number one beach by the Portland Press Herald — the state’s largest newspaper — this vibrant beachside destination is well worth a visit. There are several public parking areas that span the beach: Some are metered, and there are several $20 all-day lots. If you don’t mind a walk, you can find free parking, too, according to TripAdvisor.com.
How to get here: 2 Old Orchard St., Old Orchard Beach, Maine, 04064. Click here to see a map.
Nestled between mountains and rocky shores on the east side of Acadia National Park, this small but breathtaking stretch offers spectacular scenery. The beach is largely comprised of unique sand and shell fragments caused by the pounding surf, and the waterline varies significantly between high and low tide. If you’re looking to swim, be ready for frigid temperatures: The ocean rarely exceeds 55 degrees — even in July and August, according to acadiamagic.com. If you’re not in the mood for a bone-chilling swim, there are plenty of hikes nearby to get even better views of this striking landscape. This secluded destination located within the national park was recently ranked among the five best New England beaches by AAA. Access to the park is $30 for vehicles and $15 per person, according to NPS.gov.
How to get here: This beach is accessible via Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park just south of the entrance fee station in Bar Harbor, Maine. The Sand Beach parking GPS coordinates are 44.330185 º N 68.183989 º W. Click here to see a map.
This wide open beach on Maine’s southern coast lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ogunquit River on a long, sandy peninsula with grass dunes. The water is cool and clear, and sand is fine, soft, and expands for miles at low tide. There are shade tents open to the public if sun becomes too much. Walkable from downtown and the Marginal Way cliff walk, this beach boasts plenty of nearby attractions to further explore the area. Ranked among TripAdvisor’s top 25 beaches in the country, it’s been called “one of the most beautiful, walkable beaches.” While there are a number of parking lots in the area, the Main Beach lot is located at the eastern end of Beach Street, and parking is $30 on weekdays and $35 on weekends.
How to get here: 115 Beach St., Ogunquit, Maine, 03907. Click here to see a map.
Located about eight miles south of Portland in picturesque Cape Elizabeth, this dune-backed beach is favored by many. Relatively warm waters and light surf make this location ideal for swimming. With hiking trails along the water’s edge, and optimal spots for fishing, bird watching, and sunbathing, it’s no wonder this beach is a memorable destination for locals and visitors — ranked by both The Guardian and The Maine Magazine as a favorite spot. There are bathrooms, showers, and parking on site — and the occasional food truck. Located within a state park, admission per person is $8 for nonresidents, $2 for seniors, $1 for children ages 5 to 11, and free for children under 5, according to maine.gov.
How to get here: 109 Bowery Beach Road, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, 04107. Click here to see a map.
Don’t see your favorite here? Tell us which spot you’re partial to and we may include it in a future story: