Maine beach towns come in all shapes and sizes. But which coastal towns in Maine are the most unique? Read on to find out!
Drive up the coast of Maine and you’ll be amazed by what you see. From the border of New Hampshire to Canada, this 300-mile stretch of shoreline takes you past breezy beaches, wave-kissed cliffs, hidden coves, and seaside towns and fishing villages that embody classic New England. The best coastal towns in Maine offer a relaxed and unhurried lifestyle, perfect for a beach getaway any time of year.
As the largest state in New England, it’s no surprise that beach towns in Maine are plentiful. They call coastal Maine “Vacationland,” and it won’t take long to see why. It seems that everywhere you go, you’ll find delicious lobsters, charming lighthouses, and scenic beaches to spend a summer vacation. But which are the best and most unique coastal towns in Maine? From hidden gems and historic fishing villages to more popular beach destinations, here are the best Maine beach towns that you should add to your bucket list!
Maine Coastal Towns Map
Here’s a map of Maine coast towns that you should know about. I’ll cover each destination in more detail below.
19 Best Maine Coast Towns that You Should Add to Your Bucket List
From historic fishing villages to sandy beach towns, here are the top coastal towns in Maine that you should add to your New England wish list! Of course, when you’re visiting the Maine coast, you should also consider venturing inland to see the dense forests and idyllic lakes. Here’s where you’ll want to check out in and around the coast of Maine:
For beachgoers, it doesn’t get any better than Ogunquit. This coastal Maine town is home to miles of sandy beaches with plenty of hotels and cottages lining its shores. And best of all? It’s just a short day trip from Boston MA! Growing up in Boston, I’ve spent many summer vacations in Ogunquit. This coastal Maine town truly has the whole package!
Walk along the Marginal Way, a winding path that connects downtown Ogunquit with Perkins Cove. Indulge in the fresh local seafood and enjoy an ice cream at Barnacle Billy’s. Relax in a classic coastal accommodation and enjoy the vibrant nightlife that Ogunquit is known for. To say that Ogunquit is one of the top weekend getaways in New England would be an understatement.
In the native tongue of Algonquin Indians, Ogunquit means “beautiful place by the sea.” After spending lots of time exploring all its nooks and crannies, I can definitely say that this charming beach town in Maine lives up to its name.
Read next: Top Day Trips from Boston, Massachusetts
Located at the gateway of Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is a Maine coast town that shouldn’t be missed on a New England itinerary. It’s a popular place for locals and tourists alike, offering kayaking and canoeing, hiking and biking, and seaside charm that you won’t find anywhere else.
Take full advantage of Mount Desert Island’s stunning mountain and coastal scenery from a hotel or vacation rental in Bar Harbor. It’s truly the perfect home base for exploring Acadia National Park, as it’s just minutes from the park entrance. The restaurants and bar scene are also very lively, making it a great place to enjoy after a day of outdoor activities.
Is Bar Harbor one of the best places in Coastal Maine? It sure is!
Wiscasset is a Maine coastal town perfect for families
Looking to stay in one of the best hidden gem towns in Southern Maine? Wiscasset is the place to be. This historic seaside town is known by many as the prettiest village in Maine. It’s easy to see why with such breathtaking views of Sheepscot River and other outdoor adventure spots.
Take a stroll through downtown Wiscasset where you’ll find lots of charming historic homes. You won’t have to go far to also enjoy the local shopping and dining scene. Above all (for adventure lovers) – Wiscasset is home to Maine’s only zip line and adventure park. Monkey C Monkey Do offers over 60 rope courses, including zip lines and giant swings as well as tactical laser tag.
If you’re seeking Maine resort towns with fun for the whole family, definitely add Wiscasset to your Maine harbor town list!
A list of the best beach towns in Maine wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Kennebunkport. Nestled along the coast in Southern ME, this town exudes charm and vibrance at every corner.
Kennebunkport has always been a top destination amongst wealthy social circles in New England. However, it was made famous worldwide thanks to George H.W. Bush and his family, who spent their summers at the Walker’s Point Estate, also known as the Bush Compound.
Spend a warm summer’s day at Goose Rocks Beach or Arundel Beach. Stay at a charming inn with views of the scenic waterfront. The town’s historic fishing village charm is on full display as you stroll past quaint shops, captain’s homes, and ports. It’s easy to see why Kennebunkport is among the top Maine beach towns!
York is one of the best beach towns in Maine
Located just across the border from New Hampshire, this summer resort town in Maine is the perfect family-friendly retreat.
York is collectively made up of four places – York Beach, York Harbor, York Village, and Cape Neddick. The village is filled with historic buildings, while the beach has many candy shops and arcades, perfect for families with young children. Don’t miss the chance to stay at a Victorian-era mansion, hotel, or inn at York Harbor. And of course, no visit to Southern Maine is complete without taking your picture in front of Nubble Light in Cape Neddick! See more: Top Photography Tips for Beginners and Intermediates
Just south of York is another beautiful town called Kittery, which is also worthy of being among the top Maine coast towns. Enjoy a lobster roll at one of the dock restaurants along the water before making your way over to Nubble Night, just a short drive down the road.
Not far from Portland, Maine’s biggest city, is Cape Elizabeth. This coastal Maine town should not be missed in a New England travel itinerary, as it’s worlds apart from bustling downtown Portland.
Enjoy a morning or afternoon at one of the two state parks in Cape Elizabeth: Two Lights and Crescent Beach State Parks. This town is also home to Fort Williams Park and Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine. Beachgoers will love basking in the sun at Kettle Cove and Crescent Beach, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in Southern Maine.
A coastal Southern Maine getaway wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Wells. Nestled between Kennebunk and Ogunquit, Wells is the third oldest town in the state. It’s no wonder, then, that this historic enclave is also known for its coastal charm and scenery.
Take advantage of the beautiful beaches and natural beauty at every turn. And don’t forget to venture out to see the farms, waterfalls, and marshes nearby- there’s truly so much to explore in this part of ME. This friendly town is also known for its antique shops; however, after experiencing Wells’ fun nature-filled activities, you won’t want to be indoors!
Like Rockport, MA, this charming coastal town in Maine is also one of the most scenic in the northeast. It’s just a short drive southwest of Augusta, the capital of Maine, and is one of the coolest beach towns and hidden gems in Maine’s mid-coast region.
Indulge in the fresh seafood caught by the local fishermen. Go hiking along the coastal trails and stop by the small artisan shops that line its shores. In addition to its seaside charm and picturesque harbor, Rockport is also an art colony. As you take in a breathtaking scene filled with fishing boats and schooners, you’ll quickly see why this has been a refuge for creatives for centuries.
Welcome to the charming coastal city of Kittery, one of the top coastal cities in Maine. It offers a blend of history, natural beauty, and coastal allure, making it a fantastic destination for travelers seeking a coastal escape with New England charm.
Kittery’s greatest asset lies in its idyllic location along the Piscataqua River, which separates Maine from neighboring New Hampshire. As the “Gateway to Maine,” it welcomes visitors with open arms, inviting them to discover its unique attractions and vibrant atmosphere.
History enthusiasts will love exploring Kittery’s rich maritime heritage. The city boasts the esteemed Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, one of the oldest and most distinguished shipyards in the United States. Take a tour and dive into the fascinating world of naval history, marveling at the impressive craftsmanship and storied past of the ships that were built and repaired here.
For nature lovers, Kittery offers stunning coastal landscapes and outdoor adventures. Enjoy scenic walks along picturesque beaches, such as Fort Foster Park or Seapoint Beach. It’s here where you can bask in the sun and breathe in the salty sea air.
When it comes to shopping and dining, Kittery is a haven. Discover the renowned Kittery Outlets, a shopper’s paradise featuring an array of brand-name stores and discounted prices. Afterward, satisfy your taste buds with fresh seafood at local eateries or indulge in treats offered by quaint cafes and bakeries.
As you plan your visit, keep in mind that Kittery’s proximity to other southern Maine towns allows for easy exploration of the surrounding area.
Just over an hour from Portland is yet another classic coast of Maine town. Boothbay Harbor is a popular destination for fishing, cruising, and sailing. It also boasts a solid food and drink scene with many authentic restaurants, breweries, and even tapas bars.
Outside of the beautiful inns, delicious food, and cozy cafes and shops, Boothbay Harbor draws visitors with its performances. Don’t miss the Lincoln Arts Festival and Pythian Opera House, which bring even more fun and life to this seaside Maine town.
If you’re craving outdoor adventure and seasonal festivities and seafood, this is one of the coastal Maine towns you ought to consider!
Take a drive through Bath, Maine and you’ll be amazed by what you see. Stay here, and you’ll never want to leave!
Though Bath isn’t exactly a coastal town in Maine, it’s just a short drive away. Known for its ship-building, Bath has a maritime heritage that can rival any of the seaside towns and cities throughout the state. In fact, much of America’s naval fleet was born at the Bath Iron Works, a major shipyard on the Kennebec River in Bath, ME.
While there’s certainly an industrial side to this town, many visitors come for the quaint boutiques and galleries downtown, as well as the outdoor adventures nearby. You won’t have to go far to see the Bailey Islands in Casco Bay, as well as Reid State Park in Georgetown. With its well-preserved historic center and variety of unique attractions, it’s no wonder this is among the coolest small Maine towns.
Read next: Coolest Maine Cabin Rentals on VRBO
Damariscotta-Newcastle – A Pair of Unique Coastal Towns in Maine
These twin villages are a must-see when exploring the coastline of Maine. The Damariscotta River divides the two towns, each offering charming village vibes and unspoiled scenery. You won’t have to drive far to find some unspoiled sandy beaches and the famous Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.
If you’re into fresh oysters, look no further! Damariscotta is considered by many as the “Oyster Capital of New England” and even holds multiple oyster festivals each year. The Pemaquid Oyster Festival typically occurs on the last Sunday of September, where proceeds are donated to numerous marine education and conservation organizations in mid-coast Maine. Are these among the best towns in Maine? 100%!
Lubec is one of the best and most affordable coastal towns in Maine, hands down. It’s located in the northeastern corner of the state and is acclaimed as the easternmost point in the United States. Though Lubec can be difficult to get to, it’s totally worth it for the scenic views and authentic small town feel.
The closer you get to the US-Canada border, the wilder it becomes, and Lubec embodies this perfectly. This town is a great place to see Atlantic puffins, where you can easily spot them from the beach and the coastal trails that dot the Maine coastline.
It truly feels like you’re at the end of the world, so if you can’t find your way, look out for the incredibly picturesque and iconic Quoddy Head Lighthouse. As far as small towns in Maine go, this is among the very best!
Stonington-Deer Isle – An Amazing Maine Coastal Town
Located on the island of Deer Isle, Stonington truly has it all: dramatic cliffs, endless hiking trails, sandy beaches, and some of Maine’s best lobster. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s considered one of the best hidden gems and top coastal towns in Maine.
As its name suggests, Stonington was once known for its stone and granite. Many quarries left behind show the coastal town’s sheer importance in constructing city halls, custom houses, and other stately buildings throughout New England.
Today, the pulse of this Downeast Maine town belongs to the fishing industry, with lobster boats scattered around the harbor and local innkeepers and restaurant owners mingling with fishermen on the daily. The lifestyle on Deer Isle is slow and relaxed, making it one of the best fishing villages in Maine.
If you’re planning a trip to see Coastal Maine, don’t miss out on a visit to Camden. Overlooking West Penobscot Bay, this historic town is one of the most beautiful Maine towns imaginable. It offers a quaint old town, traditional lobster boats and yachts, and stunning scenery at seemingly every turn. Camden Hills State Park is the perfect place to visit on a warm summer’s day, where you can go hiking in the morning and afternoon, followed by a local lobster and a draft beer.
Admire the thriving art scene, ride on a quintessential Downeast schooner, and take in the stunning views of Penobscot Bay. This is truly one of the best small Maine coastal towns, particularly if you’re looking for something local and authentic.
For a gorgeous glimpse of the Maine coastline, look no further than Cutler. Located about as Down East as it gets, Cutler is world’s apart from the typical touristy Maine beach towns. Instead of tourist traps, you’ll find unspoiled seaside terrain. Instead of just seeing seagulls and geese, you’ll find one of the largest puffin colonies in the US. Time your trip between June and July (possibly even August) if you want to see them!
If you’re an explorer at heart and looking for the best Maine coastal towns, just wait until you see Cutler!
It would be a crime to write an article on the coolest Maine coastal towns without mentioning Freeport. This town is best known its L.L. Bean flagship store and other outlet shops, but there is so much more than meets the eye in Freeport.
Nestled between Brunswick and Falmouth on the Maine coast, Freeport offers a variety of oceanfront and recreational activities. The outlets in the shopping district are a huge draw, but there’s also Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, the Desert of Maine, and Casco Bay to take in and experience Maine’s raw beauty.
Enjoy the hiking trails that are sprawled around the town by the Freeport Conservation Committee. And don’t forget to try the whoopie pies from Wicked Whoopies. It won’t be long until you see why it’s among the coolest cities in Maine on the coast.
Read next: Coolest Hidden Gems Around New England
Blue Hill – A Top Coastal Town in Maine for Nature Lovers
Located near Acadia National Park, Blue Hill is a Down East village in Maine brimming with historic charm and character. The architecture sprawled around town dates back to the 1700s, and there’s lots of nature to see and experience nearby as well.
The surrounding region of Blue Hill Bay has rustic farms, cozy cottages, and unexplored waterways. Don’t miss a visit to Blue Hill Falls, and be sure to stay in a small campground overlooking Penobscot Bay. With so much charm and personality, it truly doesn’t get better than this Maine east coast gem.
Read next: Coolest Cabins to Rent in ME
As you venture up the coast of Maine, you’ll want to spend some time in Castine. This quaint seaside town is at the mouth of the Penobscot River. It offers an artist’s enclave that’s allured creative minds for centuries.
Wherever you look, you’ll find the town’s rich seafaring traditions on full display. Old homes and inns line the town’s historic center, while there are also unique military sites and museums strewn throughout the Penobscot River estuary. Hiking and picnicking are top things to do here, as well as tennis, golf, yachting. Acadia National Park is also just around the corner. Visit Castine in July during its three-day art festival, and you’ll see why this is among the must-see spots on the Maine coast.
With its captivating history and small-town charm, Castine is definitely one of the prettiest towns in Maine.
Last but not least on this list of the best coastal towns in Maine is Portland. Though it’s technically a city, Portland retains its small town feel and historic charm, especially in the Old Port district.
As you walk down its cobblestone streets, you’ll be surrounded by brick buildings housing boutiques, restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops. Here, there are many classic New England restaurants that serve the freshest seafood. You’ll be just a stone’s throw way from the pier, which offers scenic cruises and kayak trips around Casco Bay. Some of my favorite beaches around Portland include Willard Beach, East End Beach, and Little Beach. Though if you’re willing to drive 45 minutes, there are many more up and down the Maine coast that you’ll want to take advantage of.
Where to stay in coastal Maine
When looking for places to stay in coastal Maine, you’ll be spoiled for choice with its diverse and beautiful regions. Each region offers its own unique charm and attractions. Let’s explore some of the standout regions along the picturesque coast of Maine:
This region, encompassing towns like Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, and York, is known for its stunning sandy beaches, picturesque lighthouses, and vibrant coastal communities. Enjoy a mix of small-town charm, upscale resorts, and a thriving arts scene. The Southern Coast is perfect for beach lovers, food enthusiasts, and those seeking a lively coastal atmosphere.
Here are my favorite stays in Southern Maine:
Stretching from Bath to Camden, the Mid-Coast region showcases a rugged and dramatic coastline dotted with charming fishing villages, picturesque harbors, and historic maritime heritage. Explore the charming streets of Rockland, visit the iconic Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, and indulge in fresh seafood. The Mid-Coast offers a blend of natural beauty, maritime history, and a laid-back coastal vibe.
Here are the top stays in the Mid-Coast of Maine:
Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island:
Located on the stunning Mount Desert Island, this region is home to the iconic Acadia National Park. Immerse yourself in the park’s majestic landscapes, from granite peaks to serene lakes. Explore the charming town of Bar Harbor, where you’ll find boutique shops, waterfront dining, and a vibrant arts scene. This region is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Here are the best places to stay near Acadia:
Downeast and Bold Coast:
Venture further east to discover the less-visited but equally captivating Downeast and Bold Coast region. Explore rugged cliffs, secluded beaches, and picturesque fishing villages like Lubec and Eastport. Discover the natural wonders of Quoddy Head State Park, hike along the scenic trails of Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land, and experience the authentic coastal way of life.
Here are my favorite accommodations Downeast:
Greater Portland and Casco Bay:
Anchored by the vibrant city of Portland, this region offers a mix of urban delights and coastal beauty. Explore the cobblestone streets of Portland’s Old Port, indulge in the city’s renowned culinary scene, and take a ferry to the nearby islands of Casco Bay. Enjoy a blend of arts, culture, historic sites, and coastal charm in this vibrant region.
Here are the coolest stays in Greater Portland:
|Cheap: $||Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Portland|
|Mid: $$||Cambria Hotel Portland Old Port|
|Luxury: $$$||The Press Hotel, Autograph Collection|
Each of these regions presents a wealth of coastal experiences, from sandy beaches and scenic hikes to charming towns and delectable cuisine. Consider the activities and atmosphere that resonate with you the most, and choose your base accordingly. Keep in mind that many regions offer a range of accommodations, including hotels, inns, vacation rentals, and campgrounds. This allows you to find the perfect home base for your coastal Maine adventure.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Maine coastal towns
Looking for more tips on beautiful seaside towns in Maine? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get asked about a lot:
What is the nicest beach town in Maine?
For a glimpse of Coastal Maine at its finest, look no further than Ogunquit.
Ogunquit, which means “beautiful place by the sea” in the native Abenaki language, lives up to its name in every way. Here, pristine sandy beaches stretch as far as the eye can see. Stroll along the famed Marginal Way, a scenic coastal path that offers breathtaking views of rocky cliffs, crashing waves, and panoramic vistas that will leave you breathless.
But the beauty doesn’t end there, my friends! Ogunquit Beach, one of New England’s finest, boasts soft golden sand where you can bask in the warm sun. Don’t forget to explore the iconic Footbridge Beach, a charming spot accessible via a quaint footbridge. This is where the rhythmic lull of the tides provides the perfect backdrop for seaside relaxation.
The allure of Ogunquit extends beyond its pristine beaches. This vibrant beach town offers a vibrant art scene, where galleries showcase works by local artists, and the historic Ogunquit Playhouse stages dazzling theater productions that will whisk you away into the realm of captivating performances.
Whether you’re strolling through the town’s vibrant streets, catching a breathtaking sunset over the Atlantic, or simply enjoying the company of your friends, Ogunquit is the epitome of beach town bliss in scenic Maine.
Where is the prettiest beach in Maine?
Among the gems that grace the Maine coast, one stands out with unrivaled beauty: the breathtakingly scenic Popham Beach.
Nestled along the pristine coastline, Popham Beach enchants visitors with its unspoiled splendor. As you set foot upon its golden shores, a sense of serenity washes over you, and the rhythmic sounds of crashing waves create a symphony of tranquility. The beach stretches as far as the eye can see, adorned with soft, powdery sand that begs to be touched.
But what sets Popham Beach apart? It is its rugged charm and natural grandeur that captivate the soul. Towering sand dunes, dotted with sea grass and wildflowers, create an enchanting backdrop to the landscape. As you explore the beach, you may stumble upon scattered seashells and fascinating rock formations. Each one is a testament to the raw beauty of this coastal haven.
The magic of Popham Beach extends beyond its shoreline. Adjacent to the beach lies the captivating Popham Beach State Park, a haven for nature enthusiasts. Meander through scenic trails that wind through lush greenery, offering glimpses of native wildlife and panoramic vistas. Keep an eye out for the historic Fort Popham, a centuries-old fortification that showcases the area’s rich history.
Nature’s splendor aside, Popham Beach offers a sense of tranquility to immerse yourself in the wonders of nature. Popham Beach is a destination that embodies the epitome of coastal perfection – a must see on the Maine Coast!
Is coastal Maine expensive?
Depending on where you are on the Maine coastline, you’ll find quite a vast range in costs.
In coastal Maine towns like Kennebunkport or Bar Harbor, you may find upscale resorts, luxury dining options, and high-end shopping. These types of venues tend to lean toward the pricier side. These popular areas cater to travelers seeking refined experiences. And as such, prices can reflect that.
However, Coastal Maine also offers plenty of options for budget-conscious travelers. There are charming bed and breakfasts, cozy inns, and affordable accommodations that provide comfortable stays without breaking the bank. Additionally, exploring local eateries, seafood shacks, and casual dining spots can offer delicious meals that won’t drain your wallet.
Keep in mind that visiting during peak tourist seasons, such as summer, may result in higher prices due to increased demand. If you have flexibility in your travel dates, considering shoulder seasons or off-peak times to snag better deals.
Beyond accommodations and dining, Maine’s natural wonders often come with minimal or no cost at all. From strolling along sandy beaches to hiking scenic trails, many of the state’s captivating coastal experiences can be enjoyed without opening your wallet.
Ultimately, the cost of experiencing coastal Maine can be tailored to your preferences and budget.
The coolest Maine harbor towns
Have you been to any of these best coastal towns in Maine to live and visit? Are there any other towns in Southern Maine or Northern Maine that are bucket list worthy? Leave a comment below or send me a message on Instagram: @Global.Viewpoint!