Welcome to summer in Maine! It’s hot, humid, and the temperature is variable depending on how close to the coast you are.
Although there aren’t that many beaches in the actual city of Portland, there are many in the vicinity. Southern Maine is the gem of the state for sandy beaches… most of the beaches in Central/Northern Maine are rocky and non-swimmable.
I absolutely recommend getting to most of the beaches on this list early in the morning. By 11 am, especially on the weekends, the parking lots of these beaches are filled up and parking is unavailable otherwise.
If you’re looking for a sandy beach to spend your day near Portland, Maine, look no further! I’ve compiled this list of 10 Beaches Near Portland, Maine – they are all within 10 minutes of downtown!
Check out our other articles about Portland:
– The 7 Best Coffee Shops in Portland, Maine
– 46 Fun Things To Do in Portland, Maine
– 3-Day Portland, Maine Itinerary
– 8 Easy Hiking Trails Near Portland, Maine
1. Willard Beach, South Portland
Stop by this off-the-beaten-path beach for a day of sun and family fun.
Shore paths lead from the Southern Maine Community College campus to the sandy city beach on Simonton Cove. There is no entry fee, and it is easy to find free parking nearby.
The four-acre beach is a popular spot for swimming and recreational boating, offering a spacious sand and pebble shoreline. Don’t miss the beautiful views of Casco Bay landmarks such as Spring Point Ledge Light, Fort Gorges, and Cushing Island.
During the summer, dogs are only allowed on the beach before 7 am and after 7 pm, so there is no need to worry about unruly dogs interrupting your day.
There are lifeguards, shower facilities, restrooms, a children’s play area, and a snack bar. Honestly, you can’t ask for much more out of a free, public beach!
2. Crescent Beach State Park, Cape Elizabeth
This mile-long sandy beach is shaped like…. you guessed it, a crescent. This beautiful beach is about 8 miles south of Portland in Cape Elizabeth and has been open since 1966.
There is an amazing variety of landscapes to explore, including saltwater coves, wooded areas, rock ledges, and of course the sandy oceanfront beaches. You’ll also get views of Richmond Island and Seal Rocks out in the ocean.
Sit back and listen to the songbirds or try to spot some water fowl catching fish – this is a great place to birdwatch.
For those who like to walk, there is an almost 3 mile loop trail that goes from Crescent Beach State Park to Kettle Cove State Park and back. Since it’s a state park, it has bathroom and shower facilities, ample parking, kayak rentals, and several picnic tables. There is even a food truck to grab some snacks from.
Please note that since it is a state park that there is a fee to get in. It is $6 per Maine resident or $8 per non-Maine resident.
3. Scarborough Beach State Park, Scarborough
Looking for warm ocean water to swim in? This is the place to go!
Scarborough Beach State Park has some of the warmest water temperatures in New England, staying in the high 60s throughout July and August.
This beach is a hot spot for surfers because of the sizeable waves that often come through. This combined with some strong rip currents might deter any families with small children from coming here. For these reasons, try to stay in the designated lifeguard area while swimming.
There are several food trucks that offer up burgers, ice cream, sandwiches, and other snacks.
Once again, because this is a state park, there is an entrance fee. During the summer, it costs $8 per Maine resident, and $10 per non-Maine resident. Additionally, it’s important to know that the parking lot fills up very quickly on nice days. Get there early if you want a parking spot!
4. Ferry Beach State Park, Saco
If you’re looking for a day at somplace more than just a beach, try Ferry Beach State Park in Saco. Of course there is a beach (otherwise it wouldn’t be on this list!), but there are also wooded walking trails, picnic areas, and a large swamp to watch wildlife.
Long before highways were common north of Boston, beaches provided travelers relatively safe and easy transportation routes. A ferry crossing at nearby Saco River served beach travelers, and thus Ferry Beach State Park received its name.
A stand of tupelo (black gum) trees envelopes the woods in this state park. These trees are rarely found at such a northern latitude, so definitely take in the sights while you’re there.
This beach is a great spot for both families and groups of friends looking to hang out.
A nice perk of going to state park beaches is that they always have facilities. A drawback of going to state park beaches is that they usually charge an entrance fee during the summer.
The fee is $5 per Maine resident and $7 per non-Maine resident. Note that the parking area is not right next to the beach, so you may want to bring a wagon or cart if you have kids or a lot of stuff to carry.
5. Pine Point Beach, Scarborough
Visit this spacious, four-mile beach on Maine’s Saco Bay. There is plenty of room to relax on the beach – take your time to swim, play catch, take a nice walk, read, go kayaking, fishing, or surfing. These are all options at Pine Point Beach!
For all of you anglers out there, take your chance at catching some yellow perch, pikerel, or smallmouth bass from the shoreline. For the surfers looking for a few waves, go catch some off the coast of Pine Point.
About 1/4 mile down the road, you can find some bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, etc. to rent and enjoy on the coast! Along the road, find some food trucks and other restaurants to enjoy for lunch or dinner during you afternoon on the beach.
Park in the municipal lot for $10 dollars, or try to find free parking down the street and walk to the beach. Either way, you’ll have a great time at this awesome, sandy, Southern Maine beach.
6. Old Orchard Beach, Old Orchard Beach
If you’ve ever seen pictures of a beach in Southern Maine, it was most likely Old Orchard Beach. This is without a doubt the most popular beach in the state, and for good reason!
The beach itself is 7 miles long boasting white sand and clean, warm water. Close to the actual town of Old Orchard Beach is the Pier that extends 500+ feet out into the Atlantic Ocean.
On the Pier, you’ll find just about anything you could ask for at a beach including shops, restaurants, arcade games, nightclubs, and whale watching tours. Watch the fireworks on the Pier every Thursday night between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
On shore next to the beach is Palace Playland, New England’s only beachfront amusement park.
This is a great place to have fun and get your party on! It is certainly not the beach to visit if you’re looking for a quiet day near the water.
7. South Beach, Long Island
I am betraying myself by putting this beach on the list because for years now, it has been my best kept secret of the Portland area.
This is the absolute best, most peaceful, and beautiful beach I’ve ever been to. It is located on Long Island, so it requires a ferry ride. It is also across the island from where the ferry drops you off, so unless you have a car on Long Island, it requires at least a 2 mile walk round trip.
For these reasons, the beach is never full and there is plenty of room to spread out down the shore. Bring a picnic, some ~adult~ beverages, a volleyball or a book, and you have yourself an entire day planned.
Check out the mail boat or other ferry schedule here, and don’t miss the ride back! You’ll be stuck on the island all night if you miss the last ferry.
South Beach is definitely not a beach trip for the faint of heart, but it’s absolutely worth it if you’re willing to jump through some hoops.
8. Sandy Point Beach, Yarmouth
You won’t find many websites suggesting Sandy Point Beach on their list of Portland, Maine beaches. But that doesn’t meant you should overlook. I’ve added this to my list because there aren’t many beaches north of Portland and this one is not particularly well-known.
Sandy Point Beach is a small sandy beach located on Cousins Island. There is a bridge that leads from Yarmouth to the island, so it can be accessed by car, unlike South Beach above.
The beach looks backs on the coast and out towards the open sea where a view of several islands awaits you. It is never crowded and there is absolutely no cost to enjoy the coast.
9. Higgins Beach, Scarborough
Only about 20 minutes outside of downtown Portland, you’ll find an expansive stretch of sand on the ocean that is perfect to spend a hot day on.
Higgins Beach is not as crowded as other popular beaches in the area, so you probably won’t have a hard time finding a spot on the sand to set up. However, it’s suggested to plan around the tides, as high tide covers a lot of the sandy beach area.
The beach is lined with green hills that can be seen blooming beautiful pink sea roses and lupines in June. At low tide, look for the remnants of the Howard W. Middleton schooner shipwreck on the beach that has been there since 1897.
Be warned that there is very limited parking near the actual beach. There are only 6 1-hour metered parking spots directly in front of the entrance. Many people have complained about getting tickets (even if they fed the meter!), so I’d be wary if you do happen to get one of these spots.
The suggested parking area is the city parking lot at 41 Ocean Ave – it’s about a .3 mile walk to the beach from there.
10. East End Beach, Portland
This is the only public beach within the city limits of Portland. With that being said, I will be very honest here and warn you that it is not a beach you’ll want to post up all day on.
Over the years, East End Beach has unofficially transformed into a dog park/beach. Although city ordinances prevent dogs from being unleashed between 9 am-5 pm in the summer, this isn’t really enforced.
Dog owners bring their pets here, both leashed and unleashed, at all times of the day. Unfortunately, they don’t always pick up after their dogs either.
If you have a dog that wants to run around and swim, I certainly recommend taking them here if they are well behaved with other dogs! Otherwise, stick to the Eastern Prom or some other beach for sunbathing and swimming.