Our family last visited Acadia National Park in 2009 when the kids were just two- and three-years old. At the time, we explored the Schoodic Peninsula — a lesser known entrance to the park, where a 6-mile loop treated us to spectacular views of lighthouses and forested islands. The visit was a quiet way to introduce our young family to the park, and while we loved our first adventure together, we left wanting to experience more iconic spots in Acadia.
Flash forward to 2016, when we decided to celebrate the end of summer with a family trip to Bar Harbor. There were a number of must-dos on our wish list, but MP was especially curious to see Sand Beach for the first time, as she was intrigued by its description. The beach is located between Great Head to the east and a rocky shoreline to the west. The heavy sand is made up of shell fragments and sparkling quartz. It’s the only oceanside beach in Acadia National Park and the water is notoriously cold (typically 55ºF in the summer). Thousands of visitors from all over the world come to Sand Beach to experience its beauty. And if you want to know the truth, MP is more of a toe-dipper than an ocean swimmer. When she heard few swim in the chilly water, and most visitors stick to land, she thought, “This sounds like the place for me!”
Sand Beach is on the Park Loop Road, shortly after the park entrance station (where you’ll pay a moderate fee for your carload). We arrived early to find plenty of parking. There’s a short walk to the beach from the parking lot, and just before the stairway to the beach, there is a changing area and restrooms.
As we descended the stairs the kids spotted a touring ferry in the water and ran to get a better look as it slowly made its way past the beach. Once the ferry was no longer in view, CP#2 found a large shovel and set to work digging a deep hole in the sand. MP set off to take pictures and was surprised to find a brave few wading in the water waist-deep. CP#1 took some photos of her own before deciding to create a sand sculpture.
The weather was good to us — sunny, warm and bright. We decided to walk the 900-foot expanse of beach to a rocky promontory. From a distance, we could see dozens of morning hikers winding around The Beehive trail, which is best known for its hive-shaped granite face, narrow ledges and steep, metal-runged cliffs.
When we reached the rocks, the kids explored and did some climbing, while MP enjoyed the dramatic views and variegated greens and blues of the surf. She couldn’t help but feel delighted by the morning with the whole family outside and experiencing this very special place in Maine.
To learn more about exploring Sand Beach, visit here.