Find the Best Midcoast Maine Beaches
One of the first questions I get from first-time visitors to midcoast Maine is “where are the best midcoast Maine beaches?” Although there are lots of midcoast Maine beaches, finding just the right one for you and your kids can be tricky if you aren’t in-the-know. It’s taken me a couple of years to find the most convenient, fun, and relaxing beaches in our orbit of the midcoast. Plus, naturally, your ideal beach will depend on what you and your family most like to do. Therefore, I’m going to tell you about some best bets in our area. This isn’t all the midcoast Maine beaches, by any means, and I hope others will share their favorites in the comments.
I’ve included a map here to help you locate all of these spots. The addresses are pretty vague in some cases, due to their locations off of major roads, but plugging the name of the beach into your navigation will often help you pinpoint the parking areas more precisely!
To get started, here are my top five go-to sunning spots, plus one everyone else loves, but we have yet to visit.
Rt. 1, Lincolnville, ME
This beloved midcoast Maine beach is roughly a half hour drive from our house in Rockland. However, it is hands-down one of the top favorite spots for my boys. Lincolnville Beach has a happy collection of features that make it a home run for parents and kids. At high tide, there’s not much sand, but you can still find a place to sit. The sand is relatively free of seaweed and rocks, so it’s phenomenal for digging, which is what my boys do the most! As the tide goes out, a huge shallow area with a sandbar appears, and it’s easy to wade way out into the water and find little sea creatures and shells. You’ll have no problem with the little kids in the gentle surf (even when the ferry creates a wake) and there are usually paddle boarders floating about.
Parents will appreciate that parking is free and right on the beach. There are also three port-a-potties. If you weren’t able to pack a cooler, there’s ample food available at the nearby sandwich shop or the McLaughlin’s Lobster Shack by the ferry. This great little beach is one of our happiest, most convenient places to spend several hours.
Lake Damariscotta State Park
8 State Park Rd., Jefferson, Maine
Open: 9 a.m. to Sunset, Seasonally
If your kids are keen on lots of actual swimming, you should consider the warmer water of the lake beaches. About 25 minutes from us is Lake Damariscotta State Park, with its pristine little beach and wonderful facilities. This beach has a lifeguard on duty during busy hours. There are also unusually nice toilet and changing facilities available, as well as a picnic, grill, and playground area. A group shelter is available by reservation.
Lake Damariscotta is another beach that is great for digging, and my kids always spend half their time there making sand castles. For those who w
ant to stay out of the sun, it is possible to find a limited number of shady spots, but go early on busy summer days.
Since it’s a state park, there is an entry fee.
We never go to Lake Damariscotta without ending the day at Jefferson Scoop, which is a heavenly ice cream stand just next door. They offer one of the most extensive flavor lists around, as well as screened-in porch seating.
Birch Point Beach State Park
Birch Point Beach Road, off Route 73 south of Owl’s Head
Open: Year-round, 9 a.m. to Sunset (facilities closed in off-season)
Of all midcoast Maine beaches, this beach was one of the most confusing for us to find, because locals also call it “Lucia Beach” and we didn’t know what we were looking for at first. This beach is only about 20 minutes from us, and it attracts a lot of families who arrive early and perch themselves up on the rocky promontory to the left of the beach walk entrance. You can see the advantage of this perch when the tide comes in, leaving only a small section of the beach visible. For this reason, I recommend either staking out a spot on the rock early or going when the tide is low.
Birch Point Beach is a good place to come if you want to climb around a little and even take a trail walk. One parental note: kids who are squeamish about lots of seaweed or sand fleas my not enjoy this beach once they start digging. Those two natural elements seem to be in ample supply here! Also, definitely bring a cooler, because this is not really near any convenient source of refreshments.
Because this is a state park, the state expects you to deposit money at an unattended box upon entering and there is decent parking. Permanent outdoor toilet stalls are available near the parking lot. There is no lifeguard on duty here.
This video by Jen W. on YouTube starts on the rocks I mentioned and does a nice pan that shows you the entire beach. Thanks, Jen!
Barrett’s Cove Beach – Megunticook Lake
Beaucaire Lane, off Route 52, Camden, ME
With all the midcoast Maine beaches on our list, it took us forever to get up to Megunticook, even though it is only about 20 minutes away from us. We’re really glad we’ve finally made it! The town of Camden maintains Barrett’s Cove Beach. Free parking is available and the “beach” area is mostly grassy, but the views of the Camden Hills surrounding the lake are just spectacular.
A photo posted by Sadler House (@sadlerhousemaine) on
Megunticook is a great place for older kids to play frisbee and hang out. A port-a-potty is available, but it’s on the rougher end of the spectrum. You’ll want to bring a cooler if you’re staying awhile, since the beach has no food shack, but picnic tables and grills are provided.
The swimming area is warm and shallow and is filled with mesmerizing schools of tiny fish that gave my kids no end of entertainment. There’s also a small diving platform out in the middle of the water. This is a lake where it would be very easy to watch your small children. Digging is tough, though, because of the very limited, packed sand.
This is a great beach for spending an hour or more without making a huge plan. Parental note: be sure everyone has ample insect repellent. Possibly due to its grassy nature, the beach has more mosquitos and small bees than other beaches we visit a lot.
This video has an excellent overview of Barrett’s Cove Beach.
Popham Beach State Park
10 Perkins Farm Lane, Phippsburg, ME
Open: 9 a.m. to sunset, year-round
The only reason this isn’t our go-to among midcoast Maine beaches is the distance – otherwise it would be my favorite! If you are staying farther south than Rockland, going to Popham is a no-brainer. Even if you make a special day of it and drive the hour from Rockland to and fro, it’s still a fantastic beach.
This is another beach that is a state park, and the facilities there are great. Once again, you will pay to get in (unless you have a pass) but parking is available and there are nice buildings with indoor plumbing, toilets and changing areas. There are even freshwater showers outside for washing off sand. The park also provides grills and a picnic area.
I lived in Southern California, so I’ve been to a number of nice beaches, but I’ve never seen anything like Popham. The sheer depth of the beach is remarkable, but the coolest thing about it is how the landscape changes completely with the tide. As the tide goes out, a land bridge appears that leads to Fox Island (as is pictured below). When the tide comes back in, the land bridge vanishes. The beach also reveals large sandbar areas where kids can wade in shallow tidal pools, depending on the tide. I could have stayed there for days! Because of the generous size of the beach, it’s not crucial to know if it’s high or low tide for your visit.
The sand at Popham is lovely for digging, but our kids were excited by playing in the surf which, compared to the tamer beaches up north, provides some fun little waves. There are lifeguards on duty, but you should plan to keep an eye on the younger swimmers, as the beach is a large area.
When it comes to food, bring a cooler, since Popham doesn’t sell refreshments. There’s more to say about eating at Popham, though: I have never seen such aggressive seagulls! It’s like these wily birds have created a seagull mafia that will actually grab plastic sacks. Therefore, my best advice for enjoying food at Popham is to make sure it comes inside a hard-sided cooler! Plastic bags will not cut it.
Although Popham is an hour away from us, our boys have declared it “epic” and “the best beach ever.”
Extra Tips on Popham Beach
I applied to my friends at Doubling Point Cottage for any additional insider tips, since they are located right near Popham Beach. They suggested that if you get to Popham on a nice day, it’s wise to go early or later in the afternoon or the parking lot may be full. If you do go on a busy day and the parking is chockers, you can drive down the road to the area of Percy’s Store and Fort Popham and check out the beach there. In their words, “With Popham…you can never go wrong.”
As a bonus tip, they offered that, if you’re willing to hike a mile over Morse Mountain, you can get to Seawall Beach, which is accessible only by foot. It’s right next door to Popham but feels totally remote.
Reid State Park
375 Seguinland Road, Georgetown, ME
Open: 9 a.m. to sunset, year-round
Reid State Park is located near Popham Beach and was lauded by Boston Globe Magazine as New England’s best surfing beach. According to Maine State Tourism information, this beach has parking, a picnic area, and restrooms. As with other state parks, a fee is charged.
This park features “Mile Beach” and “Half Mile” beach, and is known as a great area to observe wildlife and also sand dunes, which are not found everywhere in Maine.
For a gorgeous aerial view of this entire beach, check out this beautiful video by Mainely Aerials on YouTube.
A common piece of advice for visiting this beach is to be sure to bring insect repellent. I’d heard a lot about insects and, to be honest, they were only a minimal annoyance on the sunny July day when we went, but I can imagine at other times of the day or the year, that could be different.
One thing I loved about Reid is how chill it felt. On a day when Popham was chock full, we had no trouble parking at Reid. The sand is not quite as awesome for digging and building stuff, but our kids rated the waves better and the driftwood was top notch for building! I highly recommend Reid for a laid-back change of pace and the bathroom facilities there are just fine.
Other Midcoast Beaches: Honorable Mention
Crescent Beach in Owls Head
There’s a much-loved beach just 15 minutes south of Rockland called “Crescent Beach” but NOT to be confused with the very popular Crescent Beach farther south in Cape Elizabeth. This one is named for its very long, narrow slice of lovely sand, and it’s great for a quick stop.
Why do I say quick stop? There are no bathrooms.
Since this is a residential neighborhood, it’s lacks a feeling of privacy you might get at some of the other area beaches, and parking is also very limited. However, it’s a lovely place to spend an hour with or without your kids and it has many fans among the parents of the area.
Ron Hawkes gives us a concise and helpful pan of Crescent Beach in his YouTube video:
Laite Memorial Beach – Camden
Bay View St, Camden, ME
Laite is a small beach right in the town of Camden. It’s another spot that would be great for taking the kids for a short trip. There’s parking, a restroom, a playground, and a swimming platform. Plus, you can enjoy watching all the boats coming and going in one of the country’s most beautiful harbors!
If you want to go to lunch or dinner afterward, you’re moments from the heart of Camden on foot. Read more about Laite Beach and see photos here.
The Midcoast Maine Beaches are Waiting…
I hope this overview gives you a handy place to begin exploring the midcoast Maine beaches! I know there are many lovely spots I haven’t covered here, so if you would like to suggest an addition, please leave a comment and I’ll add new beaches as I can.
For a listing of all the food trucks you can visit on your way to and from these beaches, check out our article on Food Trucks and Shacks in Midcoast Maine and see what is on your way!