Beaches of Acadia
One of the most often asked questions by visitors of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park is something like, “Where is the beach?” On a hot summer day, it can be the only place that can provide satisfaction and is always a great place for family recreation. Many lasting memories often revolve around water, whether it be swimming, building sand castles, or simply sunbathing to the sound of children's laughter and the steady sounds of waves lapping against the shore.
Three Beaches on MDI
There are three beaches on Mount Desert Island (MDI). Two are within Acadia National Park on opposite sides of the island. One is salt water and the other is at a fresh water lake. The third beach option is right next to the park in Seal Harbor to the southeast. The following map shows where they are on Mount Desert Island in relationship to Bar Harbor (seen at the upper right corner as a red star). In addition, there are a couple of beaches located not far away on the mainland directly North in Lamoine, on the eastern side of Trenton. One is in Lamoine State Park, a popular place for families and for launching canoes and kayaks. The other is a small public beach a little further east called Lamoine Beach Park. All except Lamoine Beach Park have some form of rest room facilities. During season, the Mount Desert Island beaches can also be accessed via the Free Island Explorer Shuttle Bus Service.
Sand Beach is synonymous with Acadia National Park. Located on the eastern side of Mount Desert Island next to the Park Loop Road, it has a southerly view of Thunder Hole and all the way to Otter Cliff. The beach is 290 yards (265 meters) wide and is comprised of unique shell fragments that were deposited over thousands of years. It is situated between two "walls" of granite in a snug little ocean cove. The water temperature is a very cool 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8 Celsius) even in the summer. A park entrance pass is required to enter and may be purchased at the main Entrance Station a short distance north on the Park Loop Road just before entering. The beach is approximately 5 - 6 miles (8 - 9.6 km) from downtown Bar Harbor.
Sand Beach GPS: Latitude 44.330198; Longitude -68.183998
Echo Lake Beach
On the western side of Mount Desert Island is the fresh water beach known as Echo Lake Beach. This is also within Acadia National Park but accessed via Route 102 between Somesville (to the north) and Southwest Harbor (to the south). For locals and many frequent visitors to the park, this is the preferred beach. It has warmer water, smaller summer crowds, and is situated in a spectacular setting right beside the cliffs of 839 foot (256 meter) high Beech Mountain. Located about 12 miles (19.3 km) from Bar Harbor, it will take about 20-25 minutes to get there.
Echo Lake Beach GPS: Latitude 44.314308; Longitude -68.336482
Seal Harbor Public Beach
This beach is located right in the center of Seal Harbor on the southeastern side of Mount Desert Island. It has a southern view of the ocean with Sutton Island and Islesford on Little Cranberry Island in the distance. There are usually many very nice yachts and lobster boats in the harbor. The beach is next to Route 3 and is about 9 miles (14.5 km) from Bar Harbor, or about 20 minutes drive time. The parking area is on the opposite side of the road from the beach and has a small public rest room next to it.
Seal Harbor Beach GPS: Latitude 44.296198; Longitude -68.24096
Lamoine State Park Beach
In addition to the three beaches on Mount Desert Island, there is another one fairly close in Lamoine on the mainland. The beach in Lamoine State Park is one of those secret little places that most visitors know nothing about. It seems far from the touristy crowds in Bar Harbor and on Mount Desert Island yet has spectacular views of Cadillac Mountain and the northwestern side of Mount Desert Island. There are ocean side picnic tables and campsite areas, showers, a dock, a pebble beach, and boat access. It is east of Trenton and southeast of Ellsworth, the main commercial center and Gateway to Down East Maine.
Lamoine State Park GPS: Latitude 44.454201; Longitude -68.300478
Use the Map
The kids want to go to a beach! Right? Well, not just little kids, but big kids, grown-up kids as well. On a really hot day, it is the only thing that fits the bill. Thankfully, there are several options on Mount Desert Island. Each one has its own special character. Being familiar with the layout of roads on MDI will really save some time. For instance, if you are on the Park Loop Road, Sand Beach is the first and logical choice. To get to the public beach in Seal Harbor, continue on the Park Loop Road until you reach Wildwood Stables (on the right). Take the next left. This will take you directly to the beach area which will be ahead on the left when at the stop sign. Echo lake Beach is more of a drive as it is on the southwest side of the island.