During the colder seasons (and on your chillier summer days), it can sometimes be hard to believe that Maine’s beaches (and north Atlantic waters) attract as many swimsuit-clad visitors as they do. But a crowded beach is a common site during Maine summers, and to find an empty (or even just quiet) stretch for beachcombing, romantic strolls, or private beach parties requires a bit of savvy. Your best bet is to stumble upon a “pocket beach” sandwiched between two headlands, and accessing these often take a bit of scrambling over rocks (it’s also always wise to check the tides before heading out). Some are sandy, some are rocky, but Maine still hides a few beaches far from the madding crowds — not that the water’s any warmer on a secluded beach than a noisy public one, but at least there are fewer people around to hear you gasp when you wade in.
Barred Harbor, Isle au Haut
The only access to the beach at Barred Harbor is via seaside Goat Trail or the island-spanning Median Ridge Trail. It’s a couple miles of hiking either way, which keeps the crowds away. The horseshoe-shaped cove often harbors seabirds, and beachcombers will find the occasional lobster trap and other picturesque fishing detritus scattered among the rocks.
Visitors to this midcoast gem first have to hike just under two miles over the 177-foot seaside hill known (rather grandiosely) as Morse Mountain. The reward is a sparsely trammeled, white-sand pocket beach framed by rolling dunes and swaying beach grasses.
Birch Point Beach State Park
It’s a bit surprising that the crowds stay away from the beach at Birch Point State Park, because the tourist superhighway of coastal Route 1 is only six miles up the road. But stay away they do, and the sandy crescent beach at Birch Point is a great place for a picnic with a view of the Muscle Ridge Islands.
Wrapped around Howard Cove at the end of a country road south of Machiasport, Jasper is a pebble beach known for its smooth, round, colorful stones. It’s backed by lagoons and a salt marsh that attract migratory birds. Jasper’s pretty rocks would pack in beachcombers farther south, but sparse foot traffic so far up the coast keep it a hidden treasure.
Sandy Point Beach
The beach at Sandy Point Beach Park near the town of Stockton Springs is cozy, wedged between a pair of rocky headlands, looking out over the point where the Penobscot River widens into Penobscot Bay. It’s a great place to spot nesting osprey, hike a couple miles of boggy trails, and spot a half-buried passenger steamboat at low tide.