Popham Beach State Park has always been the Disney Land of beaches since my siblings and I started coming to the beach when we were little. The ever-changing beachscape beckoned us to explore its tidal pool and rivers before sprinting across the sand into the frothy Atlantic Ocean.
Although a popular summer destination, Popham Beach State Park can be enjoyed year-round, 9 am – sunset daily. Come June to August for the added safety of lifeguards patrolling the shores. Being an Annual Pass Holder for the Maine State Parks is one the best investments if you’re interested in exploring more of Maine, as I often find it’s well worth its value in less then a month of use. It’s entirely too easy to forget the price of admission upon strolling past the parking lot to the sweeping ocean views and rolling sand dunes.
They have multiple massive restrooms and changing areas at two entrances, as well as an accompanying 300+ car parking lot. Indoor and outdoor showers were a huge plus for myself, as often times I just need a quick rinse off of my feet before jumping back in the car. Don’t be shy about packing a large lunch either, as there are well over a dozen picnic tables spread around and of course, a large flat beach for picnic blankets. However, the seagulls here are notoriously crafty birds, and any food not in a cooler or zippered bag is sure to be taken. I found this out the hard way…
Just being at the beach is the main staple of Popham Beach State Park, with swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, and sea kayaking welcomed. The true majesty of Popham Beach State Park reveals itself at low tide, as a 500 yd long sand bridge emerges to connect the mainland to Fox Island. This small island provides a jungle gym or dunes, rocks, and outcroppings to climb upon on the way to the sixty-foot summit. Once on top, I found a spot to sit and watch the big ocean swells crash onto the east side of the island.
I arrived right after the gates opened in hopes of catching a ride on a few waves before the crowds started moving in. Being the most popular beach state park in Maine means arriving early is paramount to avoiding the long line to get in, and god forbid…the dreaded “Max Capacity” sign. (Pro tip: if you show up and they are full, try heading straight past the park entrance to Fort Popham. As it’s kind of hidden away, it’s a great place to throw down your beach blanket if the main park is too full).