Longing for some alone time with the ocean? These picks for the best New England hidden beaches are quieter alternatives to the region’s better-known spots.
By Kim Knox Beckius
May 30 2017
Parsons Beach in Kennebunk, Maine.Photo Credit : Laura Snyder Smith
What would you do to reach a beach where there’s no competition for a spot to unfurl your towel? Drive a bumpy dirt road? Hop a ferry and bike a few miles? Keep your eyes peeled for an easy-to-miss sign? New England’s best hidden beaches may be challenging to find, but once you do, you’ll treasure your seaside time all the more.
Turquoise water, shimmering waves, and a magical sandbar revealed at low tide that leads to a neighboring uninhabited isle: You’ll feel as if you’ve teleported to the Caribbean … until you plunge into the water. Brr! It’s Maine. Still, this sand-dollar-and-seashell-strewn beach is worth the journey to Chebeague, the largest island in Casco Bay. Stay at Chebeague Island Inn, and a shuttle will whisk you to the well-hidden swath of sand; alternatively, it’s about a 3-mile walk or bike ride from the Chebeague Transportation Company’s ferry dock (or half that distance if you arrive on Casco Bay Lines’ boat from Portland). Preserved by the Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust for public use, this beach ensures that you’ll probably be able to count the “public” on your fingers while leaving your toes buried in cool sand.
Indian Point Road, Chebeague Island, ME. ccltmaine.org/pages/properties/island/indian-point.php
Wouldn’t it be bliss if your ancestors had scooped up prime Maine coast real estate and preserved it, wild and undisturbed, for more than a century? This half-mile arc of pillowy sand at the mouth of the Mousam River is the next best bequest. As you sunbathe, brave chilly waves, cast for stripers, or picnic on sandwiches you picked up at nearby Bennett’s Store, you can whisper thanks to the Parsons family and neighboring landowners who allow the public to enjoy this private beach. There is one catch, though: In season, you’ll need the same parking pass required at other Kennebunk beaches to claim one of the 20 spots on Parsons Beach Road. Otherwise, park free on Brown Street and walk half a mile to the beach. The plus is that you’ll never share the view of Mount Agamenticus—or compete for sea treasures in tidal pools—with more than a scattering of beachgoers.
Parsons Beach Road, Kennebunk, ME
You’ve rumbled along a terribly narrow dirt road for more than a mile to a parking lot that holds a mere half-dozen cars. You’ve trudged uphill maybe 200 yards, squishy sand shifting beneath your feet. You’ve lugged a cooler filled with cocktail shrimp, oysters, and other treats picked up at Mac’s Seafood Market on the Wellfleet Town Pier. And now, as you stand 50 feet above Cape Cod Bay with the tip of Provincetown visible in the distance and a carpet of shivering grasses and wind-sculpted dunes below, you reap the huge dividends. Head down to this remote beach, where if you bump into anyone at all it will likely be a local. At low tide, the massive stretch of sand is littered with mesmerizing aquatic life. At sunset, you’ll have the best seat on the Outer Cape.
Bound Brook Island Road, Wellfleet, MA
When Narragansett’s town and state beaches are pricey and packed in the summertime, in-the-know folks tote their beach chairs to this secret state-owned fishing area, where it doesn’t cost a penny to play in saltwater. Sure, the waves aren’t super-vigorous, and the toilets are the portable type, but the sunsets and the heart-stirring view of Point Judith Light more than compensate. Here’s the thing: You could drive Ocean Road toward the lighthouse a hundred times and never notice the turnoff for this secluded little beach. Your clue is a tiny white sign for the Fisherman’s Memorial. It’ll be on your right as you drive south, and on your left after you miss it the first time.
1399 Ocean Road, Narragansett, RI. 401-222-6800
Historic Guilford is so well known for its classic New England town green, it’s easy to forget the seashore is a mile and a half from town center. Understandably, this Connecticut community doesn’t advertise its petite jewel of a town beach, which is tucked out of sight on a narrow dead-end street. Yet a day pass offers visitors access to a wide patch of sand and a calm, clear, sun-warmed saline pool, protected by a jetty. When gleeful shrieks from the playground punctuate the quiet, look up from the novel in which you’re immersed and across Long Island Sound to spy Connecticut’s second-oldest lighthouse, on Faulkner’s Island. And when your appetite is piqued, drive around the corner to the equally hidden Guilford Lobster Pound for hot lobster rolls and brothy chowder.
Seaside Avenue, Guilford, CT. 203-453-8068; guilfordparkrec.com/facilities-parks-beaches.htm