by Barbara Ann Weibel of Hole In The Donut
Close your eyes. Think “beaches.” Quick – what comes to mind? Most people conjure up images of soft white sand beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast or turquoise waters lapping gently against honeyed sands on an exotic Caribbean island. Few would associate the word beaches with Maine, yet this most northern of states has one of the loveliest beaches in the nation.
On the eastern shore of Mount Dessert Island, in the center of Acadia National Park, is Sand Beach. Tucked between two rocky arms and backed by virgin pine forest, this crescent cove glitters like a pink diamond surrounded by emerald chips. Over eons, shore currents have deposited tons of sand that have eroded from the surrounding granite, mixed with broken bits of shells and the skeletons of crabs, mussels, sea urchins, and other marine life. The beach is ideal for sunning but only the heartiest of souls venture into the water, because it rarely exceeds 55 degrees, even on the hottest summer days.
Sand Beach is also a jumping off point for two of the park’s most popular hikes. On the far end of the beach a set of granite steps at the base of the cliff leads to the trail that loops around Great Head, a rocky monolith that forms one arm of the sheltering arms of Sand Beach. From the beach parking lot, another two-mile long trail leads along the coastal cliffs, passing Thunder Hole on the way to Otter Point. Other park visitors arrive at Sand Beach before dawn to witness the sunrise from this easternmost speck of land that enjoys uninterrupted views of the north Atlantic.
The only access to Sand Beach is via the Loop Road of Acadia National Park, located near the famous seaside resort town of Bar Harbor, Maine. The per car entry fee is $20 between June 23 and early October, and $10 between May 1-June 22 and early October through October 31. The entrance fee is good for one vehicle for seven days, including the date of purchase. However, if you happen to be in the area in April, the fourth Sunday of that month each year is officially Car Free Day in Acadia.
Photos courtesy of Barbara Ann Weibel