Last Updated on January 21, 2024 by Kelly
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 you can swim if you don’t mind freezing cold temperatures!)
Sand Beach is also near some of Acadia National Park’s most popular trails. Because of that, you’ll definitely want to make sure to add Sand Beach to your itinerary.
My husband and I used Sand Beach as our “base point” while we hiked some of the nearby trails. After we finished our hikes, we had a snack and enjoyed watching the Atlantic.
In this post, we’ll share everything we know about Sand Beach in Acadia National Park!
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 the Sand Beach parking lot. The Sand Beach 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 Sand Beach parking lot.
|Rain in the forecast for your visit? Check out our guide to rainy day activities at Acadia.
Our Visit to Sand Beach in Acadia National Park
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.
Sand 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.
Sand 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.
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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.
Check out our full guide of 23 things to do in Acadia National Park!
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.
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.
Looking for a hotel near Sand Beach? Check out the Saltair Inn!
What to Pack With You to Sand Beach
Here are a few things that we recommend that you pack with you for a trip to Sand Beach in Acadia National Park:
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
Our Experience 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. I was surprised there weren’t more people there. 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 after your hike.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sand Beach
Are dogs allowed at Sand Beach?
Dogs are not permitted on Sand 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?
Sand 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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