As of yesterday, it’s officially summer. Which means porch drinking, Reggae Sundays, shitty Wiscasset traffic, Reds ice cream, slutty–err, short–summer dresses (I recently pulled all mine out of the back of my closet and am anticipating my dad’s classic “where’s the rest of that dress?” comment), and of course, the beach.
Contrary to what some of my West Coast friends think, there are some pretty badass Maine beaches. And if you’re a fellow Portland resident, you may give up “getting out of the city” and opt for sitting in the kiddie pool on that overgrown 10×15 foot grassy area you call a lawn. But really, the beach is just around the corner. And I’ve picked out my favorite Portland-area beaches for you to read about and then hopefully, check out. Don’t worry, you’re in good hands; back in 2010 when I was a fresh college graduate and an “entrepreneur” for the summer (read: unemployed), I literally spent three months beachside with my fellow entrepreneur and best friend.
1. Higgins Beach in Scarborough
I’m going to start at Higgins because if there’s one thing summer is for, aside from drinking Twisted Teas from a can and getting kicked out of the Old Port, it’s cruising for dudes/chicks. For most of the year, a good percentage of the residents in Maine, good looking or not, pretty much look like The Walking Dead out there. Ashen, tired, and slightly overweight from ordering take-out too much (the zombie comparison still works here; zombies get fat from all the bath salts munchies.) But come summertime, everyone’s been hittin’ the gym in anticipation of beach season and has a fresh summer coat of tan. And where do all these summertime hotties go? Well, aside from LFO videos, they’re typically found at Higgins. It’s the beach to see and be seen. When I’m at my beach best (never), I strut my stuff at Higgins and creep on all the surfers. Maine surfers are the easiest guys to pick up–they have surfer envy of all the real California surfers so they’re secretly insecure and super eager to please. Dumb as nails. But washboard abs for days (summer Ali is shallow).
Pros: hot people, decent waves, hot people
Cons: crowded, all the hot people might make you feel bad about yourself, crappy parking
2. Pine Point Beach in Scarborough
In the summers of yesteryear, my mom used to pack us up in the maroon minivan and shuttle us out to Pine Point. I always have fond memories of this beach. It’s a super family-friendly spot, with beautiful white sands (well…I don’t know if Maine technically has “white sand” but you know what I’m saying), snack shops, and is just a 20 minute drive from downtown Portland. It’s less of a “surfer bro” atmosphere, as just a bunch of people who thought the beach sounded like a good idea. I like to bring my boogie board and play in the waves like a grown-up. You know you’re a real grown-up when you refer to adults as grown-ups.
Pros: Family-friendly, white sand, snacks
Cons: Not the best parking, not as many surfer bro washboard abs
3. Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth
I am from Cape Elizabeth (you read in horror!) and to the dismay of local police officials and parents in my hometown, I spent many a drunken high school eve at this beach. Now that I’m old enough to drink at over-21 establishments, instead of sneaking onto State Park property after-hours, I only go to Crescent for its intended purpose: beach days. If you’re from Cape, you too know that you don’t really need to pay to park at the State Park entrance. If you cruise down to Kettle Cove Take-Out (best hard serve ice cream in the state), and you get there early enough, you may just find free parking at the cove’s parking lot. Not the ice cream lot–you will get towed. Keep driving down to the actual cove. Also, if you locate yourself at that end of the beach, you’ll be less surrounded by tourists. Even better, the bathrooms at Kettle Cove are nicer than the crowded, and often wet, ones at the State Park end.
Pros: beautiful beach, chance of free parking, delicious ice cream
Cons: touristy, you might pay for parking, sometimes there’s lots of seaweed on the Cove side
4. Casino Beach in Cape Elizabeth
To show you that I’m not really a Cape snob, I’m going to tell you all to go to Casino Beach. Casino Beach is a very small, isolated, and technically private beach off of Shore Road in Cape. I say technically because back in the golden days of the 1990s and early 2000s, I frequented this beach, despite not actually living in one of the neighborhoods whose inhabitants are granted access. However, this small fact was never an issue. And Casino always served as the perfect spot to get my tan on, without dealing with the traffic and admission fees of some of Maine’s other beaches. Plus, I could ride my bike there. Sadly, two summers ago, my friend tried to go (she lives literally three streets down from this beach) and was approached by a clipboard-carrying woman, who apparently suspected my friend was not part of the elite neighborhood, and asked for her address. Upon discovering that my friend did not, in fact, live in the admittance “zone,” she told her to leave. So, because I like to stir the pot, and because I love Casino beach, I urge you all to go and enjoy this place. It’s a lovely spot. And if you see clipboard lady, maybe offer her a beer. I bet she’ll love that you brought a six pack to her private beach. If you really want to ruffle her feathers, tell her you’re from South Portland.
Pros: Small, isolated, and still beautiful, despite clipboards.
Cons: I just made every person in the Casino Beach neighborhoods hate me.
5. Old Orchard Beach in Old Orchard Beach (duh)
If you want a good laugh, head to this beach. Filled with Jersey Shore body doubles, an amusement park, and plenty of fried dough, this has to be my favorite guilty pleasure beach in Maine. Seriously, I have never been to OOB and not had an awesome time. My friend (same girl who got kicked out of Casino Beach) and I like to go there and make a day of it counting the overweight French Canadian tourists wearing banana hammocks. It also really is a beautiful beach. And if you get a hankering for cotton candy or arcade games, all you have to do is walk two feet off the sand and boom–problem solved. Also, the pier fries are unparalleled.
Pros: ab workout from laughing at speedo-clad men, fried food, amusement park
Cons: eating fried food in a swimsuit may result in self-loathing, Canadian tourists, and Canadian tourists.
6. East End Beach in Portland
OK. This beach isn’t a beach beach. I mean, there’s sand. But not a ton of it. And it’s kind of rocky, so not always the best for “laying out” or whatever the kids are calling it. But it’s chock-full of incredible views. The East End is a great part of Portland–and as it is, in fact, part of Portland, you don’t even need to leave the city to enjoy this summertime destination. Also, if you’re a hipster that doesn’t like to wear a swimsuit and wants to maybe, I don’t know, read Tolstoy outside or something in your knit cap on an 80 degree day, here’s your spot. Plus, it’s a great people-watching affair. If you’re a creep like me, you can wear your dark sunglasses to check out people as they run by. Tip to dudes trying to pick up chicks: get a dog and walk your dog here. Don’t have a dog? Borrow a friend’s or an elderly neighbor’s. Girls love puppies. It’s fail proof. Really want to wow them? Of course you do! Use this gem: “I adopted him from the shelter.” (I’m totally kidding–don’t lie to women. We will eventually find out…and we’re terrifying.)
Pros: convenient in-town location, beautiful views, people-watching
Cons: not the beachiest of beaches, hipster nation, I’ll be there with dark sunglasses secretly checking you out
(featured image from marshallpr.com)