The Ultimate Southern Maine Beach Guide For 2020

The Maine Coast is dramatic and diverse, with villages rich in colonial history, natural wonder, maritime discovery, and some of America's most remarkably untouched shorelines. Maine beaches, like the communities surrounding them, have vibrant, distinguishing cultures and personalities that shape the offerings and treasures of their alluring destinations. In Southern Maine, within one hour of Portland, you can discover some of the most unique and beautiful beaches in the New England area. Check out our picks for the 20 best beaches in Southern Maine.

Long Sands Beach, York

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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York beaches are beloved by locals and visitors alike. Long Sands Beach at York is a gorgeous two-mile stretch of white sand shores set against the backdrop of Cape Neddick and the Nubble Light, with prime surfing opportunities and convenient access to nearby shops, equipment rentals, and restaurants.

Public restroom facilities are open daily from the first weekend in May through Columbus Day.

Paid parking is available May 15 - October 15 from the Sun and Surf Restaurant south to Libby’s Campground, and from the north to the Cuttysark Hotel. Permit parking is available to residents only, through the Town Clerk’s Office. Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach from May 20 - September 20 between 6:00 PM and sunrise. Lifeguards are on duty seasonally from the last week in June through Labor Day between 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM. Long Sands Beach is handicapped accessible, with designated parking and ramps near the bathhouse.

Short Sands Beach, York

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York’s quarter-mile Short Sands Beach in Ellis Park offers a milder experience than its Long Sands counterpart, with its rocky shores, sandy playground, and sea glass deposits. Visitors can enjoy a rousing match on the basketball courts or a stroll along the beachfront promenade, as well as seasonal events. Short Sands beach is a great stop for families, especially when paired with a visit to York's Wild Kingdom, Maine's largest zoo and amusement park - home to more than one hundred species of wild animals and over 22 rides.

On-site metered parking is available from May 15 - October 15, and guests are welcome to bring leashed dogs between 6:00 PM and sunrise from May 20 - September 20. Lifeguards are on-site seasonally from the last week in June through Labor Day between 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM.

Ogunquit Beach, Ogunquit

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Ogunquit Beach spans the peninsula between the Ogunquit River and the Atlantic Ocean, including North Beach (“Moody Beach”), Footbridge Beach, Main Beach, the River-Side of Main Beach, and the Little Beach - Mother’s Beach - Junior Beach collection. Ogunquit's Main Beach at the southern end is its most popular, with outdoor showers, and a lifeguard station, as well as restaurants, and shops along the shore. The River-Side of Main features warm salt- and freshwater blends perfect for tubing and SUP, making it a treasured spot for natural family-friendly adventure.

Moody Beach can be accessed from either the north-end of Ogunquit Beach, or from nearby Wells. Footbridge Beach is a favorite site for fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, birdwatching, and of course taking in the sights from the stroll along the Ogunquit River on the footbridge to the beach.

From Ogunquit Beach, guests may access the Marginal Way scenic trail. Often considered one of the region's most worthwhile coastal walks, the trail covers a winding path, just over a mile, along the Maine coast between Ogunquit Beach and Perkins Cove, a working dock where fishing boats come and go. The Marginal Way provides a pathway to Little Beach, Mother’s Beach, and Junior Beach during low tide, where visitors can explore craggy boulders, tidepools, and surf access - until high tide claims the undeveloped beaches once again.

Public restroom facilities are located just outside the beach entrances, and privately-owned concession stands provide quick snacks seasonally at the entrances to Main Beach and Footbridge Beach. The Main Beach lifeguard station keeps two wheelchairs for guest use on a first-come, first-served basis. Dogs are welcome beach guests between October 1 - March 30, while the Spring Hill Road dog park provides a popular alternative year-round.

Parking is available at Ogunquit, but it is extremely limited, especially during peak season. Paid lots at varying rates can be found at Perkin’s Cove, Obed’s Lot, Main Beach, Lower Lot, Footbridge Beach, and North Beach. Handicap parking is available in all lots. Public transit systems like the Ogunquit Trolley and Ogunquit Beach Caddie are also available for local transportation.

Mother’s Beach, Kennebunk

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Mother's Beach and Gooch's Beach are two of the best beaches in the Kennebunk area, and prime spots for sun, surf, shells, and sand. Both beaches provide lifeguards, and port-a-potties from July through Labor Day. Smaller in size than the neighboring Gooch’s Beach, Mother’s Beach offers more expansive sandy shores during high tide. Mother's Beach also has a playground.

Dogs are welcome all day long from Labor Day through June 15, and from 5:00 PM - 9:00 AM otherwise. Kennebunk Beach Permits are required from June 15 through September 15, from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Day permits are available at the Town Hall or at a beach kiosk. Week and seasonal passes are also available.

Gooch’s Beach, Kennebunk

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Part of a diverse chain of sandy, rocky, tidal pool beaches, Gooch's, Mother's, and the rest of the Kennebunk beaches are all connected by sidewalks for easy beach-to-beach access and exploration of what many claim to be the most enjoyable beaches in the region. There’s plenty of room for jogging, sunning, and sand play at Gooch’s Beach - the largest part of Kennebunk Beach.

While visitors are welcome at Gooch’s, a permit to park at the beach is required from June 15 to September 15. Day, weekly and seasonal passes are available at Kennebunk Town Hall (residents) and at electronic kiosks at the beaches. From Labor Day through June 15, dogs are permitted all day on Gooch’s Beach, under voice control. June 15 through Labor Day, dogs are only allowed on the beach before 9:00 AM and after 5:00 PM.

Colony Beach, Kennebunkport

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Also known as Arundel Beach, Colony Beach is a mixed sand and pebble shoreline with rocky cliff borders at the mouth of the Kennebunk River. This 150-foot span of riverfront beauty is the perfect place for a day of relaxation in the sun, with a small park just beyond the beaches boasting stunning sunset views. Colony Beach is the starting point of The Parson’s Way shore walk, which runs past Spouting Rock and Blowing Cave to Walker’s Point and beyond.

The natural beach area offers a small gravel parking lot, and no parking permit is required. There are no lifeguards or restroom facilities at this location. Leashed dogs are allowed on Arundel Beach, but only at very specific times and dates.

Goose Rocks Beach, Kennebunkport

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The three-mile long stretch of sandy shore known as Goose Rocks Beach is a favorite spot among walkers and sightseers. Its wide, smooth sands provide just the right resistance for a semi-challenging trot or stroll, while taking in the sweeping views of Eastern Goose Rocks and Timber Island. Remarkable supplies of sand dollars serve as secret treasures in the Goose Rocks sands! Its namesake offshore barrier reef is visible at low tide, and a remarkable buffer from the activity of the Atlantic Coast.

There is very limited parking at Goose Rocks Beach, and only by permit, available at the Kennebunkport Police Department and the Goose Rocks General Store. No public restroom facilities are available at Goose Rocks, but there are restaurants and shops to explore nearby. Beach access for dogs is highly regulated.

Biddeford Pool Public Beach, Biddeford Pool

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Biddeford has three public beaches: Fortune's Rocks Beach, Middle Beach, and Biddeford Pool. Fortunes Rocks Beach is a two-mile expanse of undeveloped shoreline in Biddeford from Biddeford Pool to Fortunes Rocks. A hub for the outdoor adventurer, Fortunes Rocks Beach beckons to those in search of wind and waves. Conditions are prime for surfing, bodyboarding, skimboarding, and surf kayaking, and the hard-packed sands provide a uniquely accessible beach trail for joggers.

In contrast, Biddeford Pool is a two-mile span of calming tranquility, with clean and clear expansive beaches, gentle shallow waters, and endless horizons. Biddeford Pool is also a paddleboarding hot spot, and the site of a scenic walking trail to the East Point Sanctuary, with views of the Wood Island Lighthouse, Saco Bay, and the Gulf of Maine.

Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months, and port-a-potties are also available seasonally. Dogs are prohibited on the City's public beaches between 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM from May 25 to September 15. Permit parking for Biddeford Pool is available at Gilbert R. Boucher Memorial Park, a short walk away from the shores. Biddeford Pool has a bathhouse with restrooms and showers, open seasonally.

Old Orchard Beach - 4 miles from pier to tip of Pine Point.

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The Town of Old Orchard Beach is nestled along the Saco Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, making it the perfect site for the traditional beachfront getaway. The seven-mile long beach that shares the town's name is a hive of family-friendly activities and cultural events.

The seaside community of Old Orchard Beach offers quaint shops, local eateries, weekly fireworks, abundant fishing, the Palace Playland amusement park, exciting watersports, and more, all centered around a picturesque coastline, boardwalk, and pier. This is a destination that easily lends itself to a full-day of well-rounded family amusement and New England cultural discovery.

Parking is limited, but available at multiple paid lots and street meters with ranging prices, but for those looking to explore the area at-large, the Old Orchard Beach trolley offers transportation seasonally throughout Old Orchard Beach and neighboring areas for just $1 per person, per ride. Shuttlebus Zoom offers daily local bus service in and around Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, and Portland, while the Amtrak Downeaster train stops in Old Orchard Beach from May through October on a Freeport - Boston route.

The town has public restrooms in the downtown area, but not at beach access points. Regulations regarding area access to dogs vary by date and time, but there is a town dog park at Memorial Park on First Street.

Scarborough State Beach, Scarborough

The extensive, sandy beach at Scarborough Beach State Park provides the setting for some of the best swimming and watersport amusement in the New England area. Warm waters, pounding surf, and unobstructed breezes promote seasonal recreation from windsurfing to kayaking. Rent beach equipment and watercraft on-site, or bring your own gear. Like other primitive, Scarborough-area beaches, this is a site best-suited to those looking to embrace the simplicity of nature and the excitement of outdoor adventure.

Open from April 1 through Halloween, Scarborough Beach parking is limited to 285 on-site spaces and 125 off-site spaces, and seasonal parking passes are available. Visitors will appreciate public-use changing and restroom facilities as well as a snack bar. Lifeguards are on duty from June 10 through Labor Day. Permits are required for surfing and boating, and can be purchased at the control station. No pets are allowed on the beach from March 1 - November 1.

Ferry State Beach, Scarborough

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Ferry Beach is located just off Black Point Road near the Prouts Neck Country Club and Golf Course in Scarborough. This intimate, pristine beach is a quiet respite for the whole family with calm waters ideal for paddleboarding and kayaking. An on-site boat ramp makes access convenient for those wanting to explore by water. Be aware that tidal activity has a significant effect on the shoreline at Ferry Beach, and beach access is minimal at high tide. Ferry Beach is a carry-in, carry-out beach, so a midday picnic should certainly be part of your plan.

Paid parking is available in the Ferry Road lot off Black Point Road. No lifeguards monitor Ferry Beach, but a snack bar and restroom facilities with showers are available on property. Pet regulations are somewhat complicated at Scarborough’s beaches. For more information, check out local ordinances.

Higgins Beach, Scarborough

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Higgins Beach is a local gem and a brilliantly appealing stretch of sand perfectly situated for seclusion. The tip of the beach area juts out to form a small river with a generally calm surf and an overall embrace of the small village town around it.

Scarborough beaches are a hit in fly fishing and kayaking circles, but the undisturbed white sand shores are rife with opportunity for relaxation, sunbathing, and shelling as well. Nestled between Thunder Cove and the Spurwink River, Higgins Beach is also the site of a shipwreck buried within its sandy beaches.

Beach parking is available for a fee at 41 Ocean Avenue, and limited street parking on Bayview Avenue. No parking is allowed on streets April 1 to October 1. Public restroom facilities with showers are also on-site, but there are no lifeguards. Though Higgins Beach is a popular spot for surfers, local regulations set restrictions to surfing access. All surfers much be connected to their board via a 7’-20’ surfboard leash, and surfing is not allowed from 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM June 15 to September 15. Regulations on dogs at Higgins Beach vary by season.

Pine Point Beach, Scarborough

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Pine Point Beach is a long span of sandy beach along the Saco Bay running from the Pine Point jetty to Old Orchard Beach. Located near popular area lobster shacks and seafood eateries, Pine Point Beach is a fine setting for an oceanfront picnic as you spend the day fishing, surfing, and exploring the area via rented cruiser bikes or kayaks. The undeveloped beaches at Pine Point are best for those looking to step away from the hustle and bustle while maximizing the best aspects of a relaxing, no-frills waterfront getaway steeped in New England charm.

Pine Point visitors are welcome to take advantage of the on-site concession stand and restroom / shower facilities. 7’-10’ surfboard leashes are required to surf Pine Point. Paid parking is provided at a municipal lot on Avenue 5 at King Street. Dogs are not allowed on the beach from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. No lifeguards are on-duty at Pine Point Beach.

Crescent State Beach, Cape Elizabeth

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Crescent Beach is the namesake centerpiece of Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth. The mile-long stretch of beach ushers in warm waters and a light surf where anglers and watersports enthusiasts find ideal conditions for a day on the water. Surrounded by lush forested shores speckled with rock ledges, Crescent Beach provides a nostalgic, undisturbed beach experience highlighted by dramatic sand dunes and ocean breezes that gently guide sailboats and migratory birds through the offshore islands and saltwater coves.

Visitors have access to picnic areas with grills, a playground, snack bar, bathhouse, and nearby nature trails. Dogs are not allowed on the beach from April 1 to September 30. Fee-based parking is available at Kettle Cove.

Crescent Beach is also one of many locations on the Maine State Park Annual Pass. The “vehicle season pass” option allows the pass holder and their guests access to day-use facilities at parks and historic sites state-wide for a flat, annual fee of $105. With State Park entry fees sometimes reaching $10 per person, this pass can be a brilliant cost-saving measures for guests looking to visit multiple sites. Lower priced options are available to seniors and individuals.

Cliff House Beach, Cape Elizabeth

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Cape Elizabeth’s Cliff House Beach is a genuinely hidden gem accessible by a cement stairway at the end of Sea View Avenue.

This beach is a local favorite, offering serene seclusion and breathtaking views of Casco Bay. From May 1 - September. 30, no dogs are allowed on the beach or the upland grassy area from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. From October 1 - April 30, dogs are allowed off-leash. Cliff House Beach is located in a residential area, and best approached by foot or bicycle.

Willard Beach, South Portland

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Willard Beach is a four-acre long sand and pebble beach located in South Portland. Known for its gentle surf and expansive views, Willard Beach defines coastal tranquility. Swimmers, beachcombers, and sunbathers can all appreciate the mellow waters, shores lined in sea glass, and the sights of ships coming and going from Portland Harbor at Simonton Cove.

Visitors will marvel at the views of the Spring Point Ledge Light from the shoreline, or opt to take a short hike up the Spring Point Shoreway Trail from the north end of Willard Beach to visit the lighthouse itself.

Willard Beach offers a small on-site snack bar and bathhouse with restrooms seasonally. Parking is available for 75 vehicles just a short walk from the beach on Willow Street. Willard Beach is a dog-friendly destination, with access permitted May 1- September 30 from 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM and 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM and October 1 - April 30 from 6:00 AM - 9:00 PM.

Town Landing Beach, Falmouth

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Falmouth’s Foreside district is bursting with recreational opportunities and boating adventure. The small seaside community offers a boat ramp and launch as well as fishing, swimming, and shelling fun - all against the spellbinding backdrop of Casco Bay.

For amusement beyond the beach, visitors may consider wildlife viewing at Maine Audubon's Gilsland Farm - a 65-acre sanctuary overlooking the Presumpscot River Estuary. The Presumpscot also serves as the setting to the Riverside Municipal Golf Course and the Riverside Grill. Local restaurants and markets lure beachgoers to coastal cuisines and more, for a quick (or lingering) bite before or after their beach visit.

Town Landing Beach is dog-friendly. There is a parking lot with 35 spaces at the intersection of Foreside Road and Johnson Road, but most are reserved for residents. There is also seasonal on-street parking in front of Underwood Park.

Popham State Beach, Phippsburg

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Situated on the Morse and Kennebec rivers, the 529-acre Popham Beach State Park is home to a long stretch of sand beach that provide front-row access to the offshore Wood and Fox islands. Low tide exposed sandbars even allow visitors to wade over to the barrier islands. Popham Beach's spacious shores lure large numbers of beachgoers. The waters are inviting to anglers, swimmers, surfers and shore-shuffling beachcombers, but strong surf and occasional rip tides warrant an advisory to be on guard and aware of changing conditions.

History buffs will appreciate that the Pond Island and Seguin Island lighthouses are clearly visible from the shores of Popham Beach, while the Fort Popham and Fort Baldwin historic sites are just a few miles away.

Popham Beach is Maine's busiest state park beach. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months. Public facilities include bathhouses, picnic areas with charcoal grills, hiking trails, and wildlife viewing areas. The parking lot is relatively small, and visitors can save on entrance fees with the Maine State Park Annual Pass. Leashed dogs are welcome on parts of Popham Beach year-round as well as sections of the state park from October 1 through March 31.

Reid State Park, Georgetown

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Reid State Park is Maine's first State-owned Saltwater Beach, and Boston Globe Magazine’s top-rated New England surfing beach. Reid State Park’s Mile Beach and Half-Mile Beach are prime sites for swimming in the warm inlet waters of the tidal lagoon. The coastal shores and salt marshes provide nesting areas for endangered least terns and piping plovers, as well as habitats for shore birds. Other recreational opportunities at Reid State Park include cross-country skiing, fishing, and hiking.

Reid State Park visitors will find plenty of picnic areas (most with charcoal grills), a snack bar, and bathhouses with restrooms for public use. Park facilities include two seasonal snack bars. Leashed dogs are allowed at Reid State Park from October through March. A fair amount of parking is available within the State Park, but you can save on entrance fees with the Maine State Park Annual Pass.

Regardless of where you choose to stake your beach towel or launch your kayak, you’re sure to find adventure, wonder, and beauty on the beaches of Southern Maine! Plan your next getaway today!