The majority of Maine's sandy beaches are found along the southern coast in the stretch between Boston and Portland. Wells Beach, Old Orchard Beach, the York beaches, and others are fine places to enjoy a seaside escape. However, Maine beaches aren't limited to those 30 miles. As the coast winds up towards the Canadian border, it gets more and more rocky. Sandy beaches are harder to find, making each one a precious jewel. Popham Beach in the Mid Coast community of Phippsburg is one such treasure; this stretch of sand and surf provides a place to swim and admire the views.
Encompassing more than 500 beautiful acres, Popham Beach State Park has an abundance of natural beauty. Just fifteen miles south of the quintessential New England town of Bath, the park is open from April 15 to October 30 every year. A small fee is charged for entry.
While relaxing in the sun at Popham Beach State Park, beachcombers have an excellent vantage point to watch the scenery. Both the Kennebec and Morse Rivers each border one end of the beach, making a natural boundary. The islands at Popham Beach just offshore are interesting sights, too. Seguin Island is home to one of Maine's many lighthouses.
At low tide, visitors can walk out along a sand bar to one of the islands at Popham Beach. Those who are uncomfortable swimming back should take care to return from Fox Island before the tide rises. Wood Island is still home to a Colonial house, and many anglers find the waters here to be some of the best in the area. Local outfitters and boat captains lead fishing trips in the waters surrounding the islands at Popham Beach, sharing their expertise, equipment, and stories.
Visitors to Popham Beach will find an array of amenities along the spacious sandy beach, including bathhouses and freshwater showers to rinse off the sand and salty water. A picnic area features charcoal grills and offers a scenic backdrop for lunch. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer, where swimmers and surfers flock to Popham Beach State Park. Most of the time, the rolling surf is favorable for these activities, but from time to time, undertows and riptides mean that everyone should keep out of the water.
The surrounding salt marshes attract birds and bird watchers, and deer, fox, and moose are spotted among the tidal flats, coastal woodlands, and sand dunes. Anglers report good catches of striped bass, and the waters just off the beach have long supported lobster operations.
Those interested in Popham Beach history can make the trip two miles down the road to Fort Popham. The name for the whole area is in honor of George Popham, who attempted to make one of the earliest English settlements in the New World, in 1607. After one rough winter, the discouraged settlers returned to England. Centuries later, the imposing granite fort in the shape of a semi-circle was started in 1862 to prepare for the Civil War. It was never completely finished, but the fort was modified and saw action during the eras of the Spanish American War and World War I. Today, the state historic site is open in the summer for tours and picnics.