May 26, 2011

Sea's the day

Beach lovers thrill to the promise of sand and surf.

From staff reports

Maine's official beach season kicks off this weekend, rain or shine. Even though the state is famed for its rocky shoreline, a surprising number of sandy swaths can be found up and down the coast.

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A boy beats the heat at Old Orchard Beach last summer by boogie boarding in the surf.

Press Herald File Photos

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Old Orchard on an unusually crowded day during a heat wave in 2006.

Additional Photos Below

While some offer few amenities, others come complete with bath houses, snack bars and picnic areas. Make the most of the short but sweet summer season with this guide to the top beaches in southern and midcoast Maine.

POPHAM BEACH STATE PARK, Phippsburg: A 529-acre park with three miles of beach. There are bathhouses, freshwater showers and picnic areas with charcoal grills. Accessible from Route 209. Admission: $4 residents/$6 nonresidents. 

REID STATE PARK, Georgetown: Located on Seguinland Road, the park includes Mile Beach and Half Mile Beach. There's a lagoon behind Griffith Head, and the park offers bird watching, trails, boardwalks, a snack bar, picnic tables, a bathhouse and freshwater showers. Admission: $4.50 residents/$6.50 nonresidents. 

THOMAS POINT BEACH, Brunswick: A privately operated beach that can be reserved by groups has sheltered swimming, play areas and a campground. Located on Meadow Road and open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission: $3.50 adults/$2 children. 

EAST END BEACH, Portland: Access this beach from the Eastern Promenade (connects with Congress Street) and enjoy views of Casco Bay with picnic tables, a boat-launch ramp, changing rooms and restrooms. The sand and swimming areas are rocky. Dogs must be on a leash beginning Memorial Day. There's limited free parking for 70 cars. Admission: Free. 

WILLARD BEACH, South Portland: Access this beach from Willard Street (connects with Pillsbury Street, then Cottage Road). Willard sports a family beach with a playground, picnic tables, restrooms and lifeguards. A free parking lot for 75 cars is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. A sandy beach with gentle surf almost a mile long overlooks Casco Bay. From May 1 to Sept. 30, dogs are permitted only between the hours of 7 to 9 a.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Admission: Free. 

FERRY BEACH on Prouts Neck Peninsula, Scarborough: Access Ferry Beach from Ferry Road off Black Point Road/Route 207. With a sheltered sandy beach and calm surf, restrooms, benches and a boat-launch ramp, it's perfect for small children. A parking lot holds 100 vehicles. Leashed dogs are permitted throughout summer from 5 p.m. to sunrise, while off-leash dogs are permitted from sunrise to 9 a.m. Admission: $10 per car. 

HIGGINS BEACH, Scarborough: Beach access from Ocean Avenue off Route 77. This sandy beach with large waves is good for surfing, sunbathing, beach sports, kayaking and fishing. There's a convenience store and a market in the area, but no public restrooms. A residential area with limited parking costs $10 per car. Admission: Free. 

SCARBOROUGH BEACH STATE PARK, Scarborough: Access the beach from Black Point/Route 207. A popular sandy beach with a concession stand, public showers, lifeguards, restrooms and bike racks, the park connects with Higgins Beach. A lot with parking for 285 vehicles typically fills by 11:30 a.m. on weekends. Admission: $4.50 residents/$6.50 nonresidents/$2 children. 

PINE POINT BEACH, Scarborough: Access this family-friendly beach off Route 9 and enjoy surfing, a snack bar and restrooms. Parking is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Leashed dogs are permitted throughout summer from 5 p.m. to sunrise; off-leash from sunrise to 9 a.m. Admission: $10 per car. 

CRESENT BEACH STATE PARK, Cape Elizabeth: Beach access off Route 77. A family beach with a snack bar, picnic tables, bike racks, grills, restrooms and lifeguards. Dogs on leash permitted Oct. 1 to May 31. Admission: $4.50 residents/$6.50 nonresidents. 

SEBAGO LAKE STATE PARK, Casco: A day-use area with fresh-water swimming at extensive sand beaches. Picnic tables, grills, a boat ramp, lifeguards, bathhouses, camping, restrooms and hot showers are available. Admission: $4.50 residents/$6.50 nonresidents. 

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Additional Photos

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A kite surfer takes advantage of a strong wind at Pine Point Beach in Scarborough.

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Sun lovers crowd Long Sands Beach in Cape Neddick on a hot and humid summer day.


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Beachgoers play volleyball at Old Orchard.

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