Category Archives: Beaches

Top Things to Do on the Southern Maine Coast

If Maine is the way life should be, you should be here… we think the best of Maine is the southern Maine coast. Its easiest to reach, has the most sandy beach, plenty of lighthouses and lobster, everything iconic Maine, without the long drive upta Bar Harbor and beyond….

  1. Lobster – get ya lobstah just ovah the bordah… (Maine slang) you can stop in York, Kittery, or carry on further “down east” to satisfy your crustacean craving. We love the lobster at York Harbor Inn or Dockside, both have a water view, for a lobster roll, baked stuffed lobster, steamed and more. See How to eat a Maine lobster
  2. Lighthouses – Southern Maine has a dozen lighthouses, including two of the world’s most majestic and most photographed- Cape Neddick’s Nubble Light, and Portland Headlight – Maine’s oldest – 1791. See this Guide to Maine Lighthouses on the southern Maine coast.
  3. Beaches – our coast is loaded with lovely sand beaches, from York’s Long Sand and Short Sands Beach to Ogunquit Beach, Wells Beach, several beaches in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport and Goose Rocks, to Old Orchard Beach and near Portland Ferry Beach, Scarborough and Higgins beach. Sand, surf, salt air and sea views…. Here are Maine’s best beaches on the south coast.
  4. Boating – the best way to see the Maine coast is by sea. Charter a sailboat cruise, hop on a lobster boat tour to pull some traps, take a Whale Watch to the outer banks, a Ferry around Casco Bay, or just kayak the harbors and along the coast. See our guide to Boating, Sailing and Fishing Charters.
  5. Bike around the beautiful country roads and scenic ocean side drives in southern Maine. To rally appreciate the serenity and scenery of Maine, take the road less traveled and pedal, along Ocean Ave in Kennebunkport, or the Eastern trail, or the more adventurous mountain bike paths of Mt Agamenticus.
  6. Shop the treasure of southern Maine. Whether its that weathered antique you seek from a Wells boutique- the antique shoppers capital of Maine, or a cool Maine made craft from Perkins Cove in Ogunguit, to the bargain hunters haven of Mardens  and Reny’s in Biddeford. Last but not least is Kittery – the outlet capital of Maine, and Freeport – home to LL Bean, open 24/7/365.
  7. Explore the seaside towns – many of New England’s best towns are in the southernmost part of Maine. Kennebunkport has its cute shops, galleries and restaurants, while Portland’s Old Port is packed with cool boutiques and bars. Ogunquit is an art community with flair, while Freeport has a beautiful hidden waterfront – on the Harasseeket – most don’t see when they beeline to the outlets on Main Street..
  8. Eat Maine – its not just lobstah and buttah. Maine has a real up and coming foodie scene. Top Chefs are coming to Maine and the cuisine is up and coming because of it. Portland has amazing restaurants, James Beard award winning chefs, and Maine is home to some hot food and wine festivals like Harvest on the Harbor and The Kennebunkport Festival – fun food and wine infused celebrations on the cusp of going big.
  9. Stay for a day, a night or two. Since southern Maine is so easy to get to, just over an hour from Boston, you can come for just an overnight or two, play all day – hit the beach, the boutiques, have that bite of lobster, go for a boat ride, and book a beautiful room at The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, a waterfront resort like The Cliff House or Stage Neck Inn, or a cozy BnB like Captain Lord Mansion or an inn like Breakwater Inn and Spa in Kennebunkport or The Seaside right on Kennebunk Beach.
  10. Leave only your footprints on the beach, but take lots of photos. Maine is a most photogennic place, so you’ll want to snap lots of picks to post on facebook and instagram  #visitmaine #vacationland #Sea you soon on the southern Maine Coast!

    See also  Visit Maine Lodging Directory and Kennebunkport Maine Lodging Guide.

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Shore Signs of Spring In Maine

Spring has arrived in Maine…sometimes its slow to arrive, with snow in April and skiing til May at Sugarloaf. Maine winters can be long, cold and snowy – skiers and snowmobiler love it but some folks just long for spring. Longer warmer days, beach weather and beautiful flowers. Cheers – spring is here!

Here are 7 shore signs of Spring in Maine:
Flowers popping their tender heads out of garden beds… the bright yellow daffodils, purple pansies, regal red tulips and golden forsythia buds busting forth – say that 3 times!

Shrink wrap ripping of boats as trailers and hauls drop boats into the water – well not literally dropping the boats – that would be a bad start to the yacht season!

Shorts – As the barometer peaks over 60, bold brave eager Mainers shed their long LL Bean layers and don shorts for the first time since September. Beware the bright white legs that have been under rap all winter.

Decks at your favorite Maine restaurants on the water are opening up faster than you can say “let’s get a drink down by the water.”

Portland’s Sea Dogs are playing ball. Nothing says spring in Maine like a home opener of baseball at Portland’s Hadlock Field with Slugger the Sea Dog and the Boston Red Sox Double A Team.

Lawns – the purr of lawnmowers returns as homeowners greet and groom the green grass they have missed  – buried under a winter coat of snow.

Lobster – yes it’s the season to start cracking into Maine lobster again. Here’s praying for a plentiful yield of crustacean this year. Maine lobstermen have set and exceeded their records for the biggest catch for seven straight years… insert clap of claws here.

Cheers to spring in Maine! Get in your short, get on a boat, go to the beach, catch a ballgame, enjoy a beer on a waterfront deck, and enjoy some Maine lobster.

For Maine lodging, visit Southern Maine Coast Lodging Guide , Visit Maine Lodging Directory, and Kennebunkport Maine Lodging Guide.

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Why Maine vacationers should know about tides

wells-so-beach3You don’t have to be a meteorologist of maritime student to appreciate the cause and effect of tides. Vacationers to Maine should know about tides because they are dramatic – up to 11 feet of water rises and falls on the Maine shoreline twice every day. Tides are caused by the gravitational interaction of the Earth and Moon. The gravitational attraction of the moon causes the ocean to rise in the direction of the moon.

3bass-harbor-lighthouse-acadia1Full moons cause very full tides, but every day in Maine the tides are significant – ranging from 8-11 feet of water ebbing and flowing – up and down the shoreline, the beach and in the rivers that flow to the ocean. Tides are fascinating, and fun when you work with them, and challenging if you are naive to them.

Why you should know tides when you are on a Maine vacation:

Where you place your beach chair in Maine matters…
wells-mid-beachIf you arrive at a Maine beach at low tide and place your picnic towels and chairs near the ocean, you may well get very wet in just a few hours, loose your stuff, or at minimum have to move your beach gear quickly as the waves reach suddenly higher up the sand.

Arriving at the beach at high tide, that’s the least amount of sand of the day, so you can feel free to get very close to the water and set up your beach blanket knowing that the water will continue to retreat for the next 5 hours. Note: Maine beaches can be busier at high tide, there’s just less space due to the ebb…

sup-kennebunkportKayak, canoe and SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board) excursions vary greatly with the push and pull of the tide. Going up river with an incoming tide is great fun, you get an extra push from the incoming flow of water, just know that if you don’t wait until slack tide or the reverse tide- it will be a stiff current and hard work returning into an incoming tide.

Smart kayakers, canoers and SUP go with the flow, then have a rest, picnic or swim kayak-penobscott-bay (4)at peak tide at their destination before turning around as the tide turns – you feel like a hero both ways with the assistance of the powerful tidal current. Conversely, fighting the tide, or following an incoming mid-tide then returning into the tide can make for an exhausting workout .

Boating in Maine with the tides…
Tides have hung up many a Maine boater. Passing between islands, or within a harbor castine-tour-boator river at high tide things look completely safe, while 5-6 hours later exposed ledges, rocks, reefs and ground appear. Imagine 11 less feet of water and the many dangers that lie below. Having a navigational chart handy at all times and being aware of your depth is key when cruising around Maine’s tidal harbors and rivers.

Enter and anchor at low tide.
Smart boaters tend to enter harbors at DCIM100GOPROGOPR0442.low tide when shoals, rocks, reefs and sand bars are visible. Entering in high tide may seem safer, but you must study your chart very carefully as hazards are not apparent to you. Ignorance is not bliss when boating in 11 foot tidal areas.

If you anchor, you should put out enough scope for high tide, but also know the radius of your boat, multiply your “rode” (anchor line) by at least 7 to 10 times the depth of the water… and be aware of any danger at dead low for your boat’s draft (draw) which is the amount of water need from the bottom of your boat so as not to run aground, hit your prop or breakwater-river-view7keel.

A fish finder or depth finder alone is not sufficient to knowing where you are in your boat and what lies beneath. A depth gauge will often sound an alarm when its too late and you have just struck a ledge, shoal or sand bar. You should know where you are on a chart at all times. Chart depths are marked with the depth at normal low tide. A dramatic low tide can be -1 foot or more below the chart indicated depth.

Winter Surfing in MaineFinally a word of caution on RipTides.
Riptides in Maine are strong tidal currents caused by the ebb and flood jets created in restricted tidal areas which can be dangerous to swimmers and small crafts. Rip current is different, describing tidal wave action.

Maine has a semi-diurnal tide – two relatively similar high and low tides each day. See our Maine tide charts here. To Mainers, especially Maine fisherman and Maine lobstermen, the tide chart is as ipineapple-ketchmportant as their traps and pots. Tide charts are unique to each Maine town, region and harbor, changing daily, geographically.

Enjoy your Maine vacation  and keep in mind the tides – the Maine tide can be your friend or your frenemy!

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Vacation Guide to the Southern Maine – Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, York, Old Orchard Beach – Resorts Inns

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The changing coastline of Maine

pineapple-ketchThe Maine coast has been a retreat for city folks for over a century – people continue to love to escape for a summer by the sea. There is something so relaxing and restorative  about the cool ocean breeze and the quiet natural setting of Maine.

At the turn of the century and even into the 1920s, people from away, Boston and New York,  would come to southern Maine and stay for weeks, even months or the entire “season” by the sea, staying in a summer cottage or one of the grand oceanfront resorts in York, Ogunquit, Kennebunk Beach and Kennebunkport, Old Orchard Beach and Portland. shawmut-kennebunkportThere were large hotels on the water, with grand porches, pools and beaches.

Today, many of those historic seaside hotels have closed, converted to condos like the Narragansett on Kennebunk Beach, or were torn down and replaced with massive private mansions like the Shawmut Inn (pictured here courtesy of Kennebunkport Conservation Trust) formerly located off Ocean Ave in Kennebunkport, now a private residence.

pineapple-ketch-nonantumBut a few gracious and grand hotels remain on the coast, from the Wentworth in Newcastle New Hampshire, to the York Harbor Inn in York, The Cliff House in Ogunquit, the Colony Hotel, Breakwater Inn and Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport, and the Seaside Inn on Kennebunk Beach.

Guests can no longer afford to stay for a month or the summer season, time and stripers-fishing-boatmoney constraints in our fast-paced lives don’t allow for such long lavish getaways, but a few days at these top seaside hotels can feel like a grand getaway even if its just for a few days.

Sipping a cocktail on The Colony porch’s gazebo overlooking the Atlantic, or watching the sunset over the Kennebunk River from an Adirondack chair at the Breakwater Inn is rejuvenating…and reflective of the good ole’ days on coast in the summer.

colony-kennebunkport-festival-aspenConsider a summer escape to the southern Maine coast… the way life should be, by the sea.

See our southern Maine lodging guide, and things to do on the southern Maine coast from boating, the best beaches, shopping and dining.

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