Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by admin
Sand Beach in Acadia National Park is the only sandy beach in the entire park. While Acadia has miles of rugged coastline, Sand Beach stands out as the only place where you can dig your toes in the sand and watch the waves roll in. (Or swim if you don’t mind freezing cold temperatures!) Sand Beach is also near some of the park’s most popular trails, so you’ll definitely want to make sure to add Sand Beach to your Acadia National Park itinerary. In this post, we’ll share everything we know about Sand Beach in Acadia National Park!
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About Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is comprised of 3 primary regions:
- Mount Desert Island (MDI): This is the main area of Acadia National Park. Although it is an island, you can drive directly into the park. Most of the park’s most popular attractions are on Mount Desert Island. The Beehive Trail is located on Mount Desert Island.
- Schoodic Peninsula: This is the only portion of Acadia National Park that is on the mainland. It’s typically less busy than Mount Desert Island, as it’s across the water from the main portion of the park. (That means you need to take a longer drive to reach it.)
- Isle au Haut: This island is accessed only by a year-round passenger ferry. You can catch the ferry at Stonington, which will then take you to Isle au Haut. The ferry ride is approximately 45 minutes long.
In addition to the 3 regions listed above, the town of Bar Harbor is located adjacent to Acadia National Park. Most visitors seek lodging or dining options in Bar Harbor after a busy day at Acadia.
|Check out our full guide of 22 things to do in Acadia National Park here!|
How to Get to Sand Beach
Once you enter Acadia National Park, head straight to the Sand Beach parking lot right off Park Loop Road. The Sand Beach parking lot is located just .7 miles south of the entrance station. There are restrooms located at this parking lot. The parking lot is very large and can fill up quick, but there also tends to be a lot of people leaving at any given time. We recommend arriving early to grab a parking spot, but you can always wait for a spot if you arrive on a crowded day. Another option is to take the Island Explorer free shuttle to the parking lot.
|Rain in the forecast for your visit? Check out our guide to rainy day activities at Acadia here.|
About Sand Beach
Sand Beach is a natural pocket beach located in Newport Cove. The beach is unique in that there is water on both sides of it. Behind the beach is the Beehive Lagoon, and directly out in front of the beach is the Atlantic Ocean. To the east you’ll see the Great Head Peninsula. The mountain across the road from the Sand Beach parking lot is the Beehive.
The beach is 290 yards long, with plenty of space for everyone to enjoy the views. The sand from the beach is partially made from shell fragments that have broken down over time by the surf.
The beach is a popular spot for people to play along the shores. Although the water temperature is extremely cold year-round, you’ll often find people splashing in the waves on warmer days. Expect the water temperature to be around 55 degrees! If you touch the water, it will definitely wake you up! For swimming information, view the park’s website here.
Things to Do Near Sand Beach
One of the benefits of stopping at Sand Beach is that there are tons of things to do in this area of the park. You just need to park your car once and you have hours of activities at your fingertips. Below are a few things you might want to check out!
Hike the Beehive Trail
The first hike we completed at Acadia National Park was the Beehive Trail. We love to go hiking, and this was one of our favorite hikes. What I liked about it most was the experience of using the iron rungs, ladders, and hand bars to scale up the rocks. The view from the top was absolutely incredible. We saw Sand Beach below us, as well as Frenchman Bay.
The trail is 1.4 miles roundtrip and will take you up a 450 foot cliff trail. It took us about 2 hours to complete the hike. We stopped frequently for photos and had a mini-lunch at the top. I wouldn’t recommend this trail for children. The granite is extra-slippery when it’s wet, so it might not be advisable to hike it on a rainy day. It’s a good idea to always check out current advisories on the park’s website, as well as speak to a local park ranger.
You can easily access the trail across the street from the Sand Beach parking lot. You can read our full article about the trail here.
Great Head Trail
The Great Head Trail at Acadia is accessed from the Sand Beach parking lot. The trail is about a 2 mile loop, and it will take you along the headland of the peninsula. There are steep cliffs along this trail, so exercise caution and be mindful if you have children accompanying you. You can read a full trail description here.
If you’d like a nice coastal walk, you should check out the Ocean Path. The trail is also accessed from the Sand Beach parking lot. The Ocean Path is a trail that connects Sand Beach to Otter Point. The trail is about 2 miles one-way. There are several points of interest along the way, including Thunder Hole, Monument Cove, Boulder Beach, Otter Cliff, and Otter Point.
The lagoon behind Sand Beach is called the Beehive Lagoon. While at Sand Beach, be sure to take a look at the lagoon and see if you can spot any wildlife.
Where to Stay Near Acadia National Park (Best Hotels!)
We recommend that you stay at least one night near Acadia National Park, so that you can make the most of your trip. The closest town to Acadia is Bar Harbor, and there’s a lot of really charming hotel properties in the town. Here’s a few hotels to consider:
- Saltair Inn: This waterfront bed and breakfast is one of the most picturesque inns I have seen. The home was first built in 1887 and has beautiful views of Frenchman Bay.
- Bar Harbor Grand Hotel: This hotel is a replica of the historic Rodick House, which was one of the early grand hotels in the area.
- Bar Harbor Inn & Spa: Portions of this hotel date back to the 1800s. This historic hotel is right on the coast.
- The Inn on Mountain Desert: This is one of the newer hotels in Bar Harbor (built in 2018). The inn is located in downtown and is in a very walkable area.
For a full list of lodging options near Acadia National Park, click here.
What to Pack With You
Here are a few things that we recommend that you pack with you for your trip:
- Selfie stick and tripod: You’ll be able to take photos of yourself and/or your whole family with the most stunning backdrops.
- Plenty of water: Make sure you bring enough water to stay hydrated.
- First aid kit: Always hike with a first aid kit and the 10 essentials. (We have a list of the 10 essentials here.)
- Sun protection: Much of the beach and nearby trails are exposed, so make sure that you have adequate sun protection. We usually pack a hat and sunscreen.
- Power bank: While you’re out on the trails, make sure that your phone doesn’t run out of battery. We always travel with one or even two power banks fully-charged just-in-case!
- New England guide book: New England is a stunning place to visit, and this guide book gives you an overview of the entire region.
- Camera: If you don’t have one already, pack a nice camera to really take advantage of the spectacular scenery.
- Waterproof hiking boots: You’ll want to explore the coastal trails, and with a pair of waterproof hiking boots you won’t have to worry about mud. I’ve been using the Columbia brand for years and have loved my pair. My boots have taken me all over the USA, and I even hiked the Inca Trail with them in Peru! I’ve linked a pair for women here, and a pair for men here.
- Acadia Guide Book: Lonely Planet has an excellent guide book that covers Maine and Acadia National Park. It’s a great resource as you prepare for your trip!
(Click on the above images for current pricing and shipping information.)
Our Adventure at Sand Beach
We visited Sand Beach after completing the Beehive Trail. After seeing the beach from above at the summit, we were struck by its beauty! The beach was nestled in the cove and the water looked so pure. After we finished our hike, we headed to the beach to walk along the shore.
Even though we were visiting in the late spring, the beach itself wasn’t too crowded. We touched the water and we can definitely attest that it was very cold!
We’d recommend visiting Sand Beach after completing one of the numerous nearby hikes. Pack a picnic and enjoy watching the waves roll in.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sand Beach
Are dogs allowed at Sand Beach?
Dogs are not permitted on the beach from May 15 through September 15 (peak season).
Are you allowed to camp at Sand Beach?
Camping at Sand Beach is not permitted. There are two campgrounds on Mount Desert Island: the Seawall Campground and the Blackwoods Campground.
Can you swim at Sand Beach?
Swim beach is a popular place for swimming at Acadia National Park. There is typically a lifeguard posted during the summer months. Be prepared for very cold water temperatures if you do decide to swim.
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