The beach.

When you read that, what did you think of? Sunbathing? Swimming? Surfing? Another word beginning with S?

You may find those activities enjoyable in the summer, but the beach is just as worthy a destination in the winter months, and for people like me, it’s even better at this time of year.

Here are a few reasons why.

The No. 1 reason the beach is best in the winter is the scarcity of humans. This is Scarborough Beach on a delightful Saturday earlier this month. Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

1. No crowds

This is by far my favorite part of going to the beach in winter and contributes heavily to the remaining four reasons in this article.


It could be because I’m more of a lake guy than an ocean guy, but I prefer almost any other summer activity than going to the shore on a busy summer day (though at least one friend or family member finds a way to drag me there every year). This is especially the case at high tide, when many of Maine’s beaches are dwarfed to half their size or less.

Something about laying my towel down between two families of strangers really gets on my nerves, and on a hot July weekend it is often the only choice. Even worse is when you carve out your own isolated spot and someone plops right down next to you. (Go away! I’m trying to have some me time.)

In the winter, you may see two dozen people on the beach at one time. Mother Nature can convince a lot of people to stay in their homes during the cold months. I’m one of them when it’s way below freezing or there’s a storm rolling through, but on a beautiful sunny day, it’s well worth being outdoors, and it’s a good way to ward off that seasonal depression many of us know and loathe.


Any bright day with temperatures above freezing is a perfect beach day. Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

2. The weather

Yes, seriously.


If you pick the right day (I recommend sunny in the low 40s), wearing a jacket, jeans and boots is enough to feel comfortable. I prefer the cold to the heat, but anyone can enjoy a beautiful, crisp and invigorating day at the beach in January or February. No sunburn is a huge plus, as is no sweat. If it’s over 80 in the summer, I’m washing off the sweat in the water every 15 minutes. Yuck.


Seagulls get a bad rap, but they really are beautiful creatures. Maybe it has something to do with the winter light. Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

3. Wildlife

While animals are sparse during the winter, you can occasionally find some wildlife on beaches this time of year. And, if you do, it’s easy to get up closer to observe (another perk of there being no crowds).

Seagulls tend to get a bad rap – squawking, pooping and stealing your food – but they’re pretty tame in the winter, and actually quite beautiful when you get a closer look.

4. It’s cheaper


An obstacle for some to get to the beach in the summer is the need to buy a pass or pay a daily parking fee. Many beaches in Maine, like Scarborough Beach State Park, allow you to go to the beach for free during the winter months.

Who doesn’t like free stuff? Especially in this economy. Put the money you would have spent on the beach fee toward your heating bill.

5. Romance

“I like long walks on the beach” is pretty cliche, but if that shoe fits, winter is the best time to do it.

Walk along the shore, collect rocks or seashells, hold hands. Maybe even kiss your significant other as the waves roll in. If you feel embarrassed by public displays of affection, don’t worry. Did I mention no crowds? No public means no PDA.

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