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. 

OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Old Orchard: Access this famous tourist destination from Route 9. The 7-mile beach has a pier with restaurants and shops, an amusement park and arcades. The town also offers free concerts, street dances and weekly fireworks displays. Prices at nearby private lots range from $5 to $10, or you can buy a pass from the Chamber of Commerce (call 934-2500). Admission: Free. 

FERRY BEACH STATE PARK, Saco: Access this sheltered beach off Route 9 on Bay View Road. Amenities include picnic tables, benches, trash cans, restrooms, walking trails, a boat launch and parking. Leashed dogs are permitted from 5 p.m. to sunrise. Parking is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: $4 residents/$6 nonresidents. 

BIDDEFORD POOL BEACH, Biddeford: Access from Route 208. A sandy beach with gentle surf, bathhouses and lifeguards. Sticker parking only; stickers available at City Hall. Parking after 5 p.m. is free. Admission: Free. 

FORTUNES ROCKS BEACH, Biddeford: Access off Route 208 from Route 9. A sandy beach with restrooms and lifeguards. Parking passes are available at City Hall. Parking after 5 p.m. is free. Admission: Free. 

GOOCH'S BEACH (largest part of Kennebunk Beach), Kennebunk: Access on Sea Road off Route 9. A soft, sandy beach with gentle surf, restrooms and lifeguards. Sticker parking only. Resident passes are available at Town Hall, and nonresidents passes are available at the Chamber of Commerce, police station or Town Hall. Admission: Free. 

MIDDLE BEACH (part of Kennebunk Beach), Kennebunk: Located around the corner from Gooch's Beach, this rocky beach has small sandy patches and is appealing to beach walkers. Sticker parking only. Resident passes are available at Town Hall, and nonresidents passes are available at the Chamber of Commerce, police station or Town Hall. Admission: Free.

MOTHER'S BEACH (part of Kennebunk Beach), Kennebunk: A very sandy, well-protected beach with gentle surf, a playground and lifeguards. Sticker parking only. Resident passes are available at Town Hall, and nonresidents passes are available at the Chamber of Commerce, police station or Town Hall. Admission: Free. 

WELLS BEACH, Wells: Access the beach from Mile Road off the Maine Turnpike. Sandy beaches but also rocky ridges with tide pools, lifeguards, restrooms, sand dunes, restaurants, a playground, an arcade and souvenir shops. Parking fees are $15 per day. Resident stickers are available at Town Hall. Parking after 4 p.m. is free. Dogs allowed only after 6 p.m. or before 8 a.m. from June to September. Admission: Free. 

OGUNQUIT BEACH, Ogunquit: Accessible by trolley and several parking areas, Ogunquit Beach is considered one of the prettiest 3.5 miles of peninsula beach in the country. Amenities include restrooms, snack bars and lifeguards. Admission: Free. 

FOOTBRIDGE BEACH, Ogunquit: Beachgoers walk over a footbridge to get to this less crowded section of beach, which has a snack bar, lifeguards, restrooms and several paid parking lots. Admission: Free. 

LONG SANDS BEACH, Cape Neddick: Best-known for its 2-mile stretch of white sand and good surfing action. There's metered parking along Route 1A for the entire length of the beach. Lifeguards are on duty, and there are restrooms at the bathhouse near Oceanside Avenue. Admission: Free. 

SHORT SANDS BEACH, Cape Neddick: Popular for its amusement-park atmosphere with a carousel, playground and arcade, this beach also has restaurants, shops and the Golden Rod candy shop. Amenities include showers, a changing area and toilets. There is metered parking in a lot off Route 1A. Admission: Free. 

HARBOR BEACH, York: A Scenic sandy beach with gentle surf. Parking is free but limited at the entrance to Harbor Park. There are portable restrooms at Harbor Beach Road. Admission: Free.

 

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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.

AP

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Beachgoers play volleyball at Old Orchard.



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