There may be no greater reason to visit the state of Maine than the myriad of gorgeous beaches not far from Portland. Whether you're vacationing in the city proper or a little outside of it, it is safe to say that a beach is never far away - and is often within walking distance. So kick off your sandles, grab a blanket, and trek to the local beach, all the while being careful of the hot concrete beneath your toes, par for the course of the Maine summer experience!
East End Beach
After a morning of shopping in Portland's Old Port, go for a dip at the East End Beach, Portland's only public beach. At the bottom of the hills of the Eastern Promenade, this beach, though a bit pebbly, is the ideal place to take in the panorama of Casco Bay. Sailboats from the local marina breeze in and out of the harbor, and the islands of the bay are in full view. If you're lucky, you may catch a seal in the distance, clumsily maneuvering its way onto the shores of a small patch of land or rock.
If you're looking to take a scenic, short trip, try Higgins Beach off Route 77 outside of Portland. Just the drive is enough to inspire a visit to this beach as curvy, tree-lined country roads pass farmhouses and rolling fields. Higgins Beach, endearingly referred to as "Higgins” by locals, is an expansive stretch of sand with the tip of the beach jutting out to form a little river. The surf is mostly calm and the beach itself is soft and inviting. Classic New England cottages line the backside of the beach, and lend to the feel of this perfect escape by the sea.
Willard Beach, located in South Portland, is a favorite among locals. Beach-goers can plop themselves down under the shade of trees or wade amongst the rocks and soft sand. This beach offers it all: front-row seats to a incomparable view of Spring Point Ledge Light
, as well as cruise ships coming in and out of the harbor. Sailboats bob up and down not far from shore, and the gentle surf makes this beach especially kid-friendly. A small snack bar provides sustenance to the famished swimmer, and cute bakeries and cafes are nearby. Be sure to pick up a piece of sea glass before you leave; it lines the beach in abundance.
Ferry Beach/Western Beach
The gorgeous haven of Ferry Beach comes with a small fee ($10 per car) but is worth the price. The crystal clear water and the quintessential Maine lobster boats, rocking back and forth nearby, are an invitation to dive into the cool Maine water. Long grass, blowing in the warm breeze, begins where the sand ends at the top of the beach and at the bottom rests the clear sea. Plop your towel between the two and take a peaceful nap. The quiet surf is enough to lull one into a summer daze.
Western Beach, adjacent to Ferry Beach (both located in Scarborough), also has sheltered white sand beaches with a nearby salt marsh, but keep a watchful eye because there is no lifeguard on duty.
Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth is located eight miles south of Portland on Route 77. The mile-long Crescent Beach State Park is popular with families due to its gentle surf. The park has a snack bar, picnic tables, bike racks, restrooms, cold water showers, lifeguards, and plenty of parking.