17 Pawesome Dog-Friendly Beaches in Maine to Enjoy with your Pooch

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Maine is the most northeastern state in the United States and is well-known for its lighthouses, lobsters, and 3,478 miles of coastline. In fact, it has 65 lighthouses! Bordered by New Hampshire to the west, New Brunswick and Quebec, Canada to the northeast and northwest, and the Gulf of Maine to the southeast, the state has a ton of beaches and parks to enjoy. There are also 38 state parks in Maine and they all allow dogs as long as they are leashed. 

The only drawback to many of the beaches is that dogs are only allowed from October 1st to March 31st. But even in parks with this rule, your fur buddy is welcome to play along the waterfront at most places as long as they are not designated swimming beaches. In addition, there are hundreds of miles of pup-friendly trails, carriage roads, and boardwalks you can explore together. Here are 17 of our favorite dog-friendly beaches in Maine for you and your dog to try. 

Fort Foster Beach

Located in the southwestern corner of Maine, Fort Foster has not one but three sandy beaches to enjoy with your pooch. However, there are certain rules you need to follow. First, dogs are not allowed on the Pier South Beach in May and September on weekends and not allowed at all between Memorial Day to Labor Day. On the other beaches, your pup has to be on a 10-foot leash from 10 AM to closing on weekends in May and September and every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The rest of the time, they can be leashless!

With almost 90 acres, the beach is in Kittery Point on Gerrish Island and has several nice nature trails, picnic areas with tables and grills, and restrooms with water fountains as well as several military forts to explore, but only on the outside. Most of the buildings were built from 1898 to 1900. The beaches are clean and wide, with plenty of room for all. But there are no lifeguards so you will be swimming at your own risk. 

Long and Short Sands Beaches

Less than 10 miles to the northeast in York, both Long and Short Sands Beaches allow fur puppies after 6 PM from May 20th to September 21st and all times during the rest of the year. And during the off-season, your pooch does not even need a leash before 8 AM. The restrooms are open from May through October, chair and umbrella rentals are available, and there are several take-out eateries nearby.  

The different names make sense since Long Sands Beach is 1.5 miles long while Short Sands Beach is only ¼ of a mile long. Between the two, at the end of the peninsula, Nubble Lighthouse also has a small beach and provides some awesome selfies. There is also a playground for the little humans, a gazebo, basketball courts, and a large patch of grass for playing fetch or frisbee. Do bring your own pup cleanup baggies to pick up after your fur buddy. 

Ogunquit Public Beach

Leashed canines are allowed during the off-season at Ogunquit Public Beach, seven miles north of Long and Short Beaches. From September 8th through March, your pupster is welcome, on a lead, to swim in the ocean and play on the sand. But he is not allowed to swim in the Ogunquit River Estuary due to wildlife preservation. Although you can allow your pup to sniff the banks as long as he stays out of the water.  

There are 3.5 miles of soft golden sand beach along the ocean, so you do not need the river anyway. Besides swimming and sunbathing, visitors often enjoy hiking, kayaking, golfing, sailing, and fishing here. But you will need a fishing license. Just a short walk up the sand, Footbridge Beach is also dog-friendly during the same times with the same restrictions and was voted the number one beach in the US by Rolling Stone Magazine. 

Wells Beach

Wells Beach is less than 20 minutes to the north, and they allow leashed pups all year long everywhere except for the first 200 yards of the beach. The only law to remember is that he cannot be on the beach from 8 AM to 6 PM from June 15th to September 16th. Also, because of the terns and piping plover nests, you cannot have loud music, kites, volleyball, or excessive barking. 

The good thing is that it is still warm enough to swim after 6 PM, so you and your fur buddy can get in the water. Right across the Wells Harbor to the west is Wells Harbor Park, where your canine compadre can be by your side for picnicking, barbecuing, and playing ball as long as he is leashed. Locals say that dogs can be off their leash in the dog beach section of this park but that is not verified on the website, so you have to ask. 

Gooch’s Beach

Gooch’s Beach is found in Kennebunk just about 15 minutes east of Wells Beach and is the largest of the three beaches in Kennebunk. During the summer, from June 15th until Labor Day, your pooch is welcome before 9 AM and after 5 PM, and he does not even have to be on a leash if he is under voice control. All other times, your pup can join you the whole time the beach is open, also under voice control. 

Because the three Kennebunk beaches all have the same rules for dogs, you can visit any of these you like. Sometimes, you may find Gooch’s to be crowded, so you may want to go to Monthers or Middle Beach. Gooch’s has the most space, and you can choose between the riverfront and oceanfront for swimming and playing with your fur baby. Kennebunk River is also a great place for fishing if you have a license. 

Goose Rocks Beach

Like the other beaches, Goose Rocks Beach has specific rules for bringing your pooch to the sand. From June 15th to Labor Day, dogs are not allowed between 9 AM and 5 PM. Then, from April to June 14th, your fur puppy is welcome on a leash. But best of all, from September 16th to the end of March, your pup can be there all the time but can run around off the leash before noon and after 6 PM. 

Now that you know the rules, here is the fun part! The beach is full of soft sand, even though the name implies otherwise. Also, there are three miles of space to pick from. The gentle surf and warm water make this a summer hotspot too! You need to remember that the beach is the home of piping plovers and terns, so you have to make sure your pup is truly voice-controlled or on a leash. 

Ferry Beach State Park

Ferry Beach State Park is situated between the Saco River and Saco Bay, about a half hour from Goose Rocks Beach, and is also pup-friendly. Your canine companion is totally welcome to visit both the beach and the park from October to April as long as he is leashed. The rest of the year, you can enjoy the rest of the park, which is about 100 acres, just not the beach area. 

The park boasts large picnic areas with barbecue grills and play areas, as well as nature trails, restrooms, and sensational views of the ocean. During the summer months, head over to Camp Ellis Beach, just to the south, where dogs are allowed all year long. At this beach, they have to be on a leash from April to October. The rest of the year, he can run around off his leash as long as he is voice-controlled. But you always have to pick up after your pup so bring doggie bags. 

Higgins Beach

Another 20 miles up the sand to the northeast, Higgins Beach is just north of Scarborough Beach. Your fur puppy is allowed to play off his leash at Higgins Beach at different times depending on the season. From May 15th to Labor Day, no dogs are allowed from 9 AM to 5 PM. Leashed pups are welcome on the leash before 9 and after 5. At all other times of the year, you can have Fido off his leash any time besides 1 and 3 PM. 

Now that you know all the rules, get to the beach and have some fun! It is just over a half mile long and has a snack bar and picnic areas if you get hungry. There is also a playground for the human kids, a bathhouse with showers, and lots of open green space. Right behind the beach, Crescent Beach State Park also has a lot of sand and space to enjoy with your fur baby.

Willard Beach

Willard Beach is a public beach less than five minutes from Portland that loves dogs so much, they do not even need a leash much of the time. From May through September, your pup is welcome on the beach before 9 AM and after 7 PM, no leashes are needed. However, you have to keep the leash handy. Dogs are allowed all the time from October to May on a leash but can be unleashed from 10 AM to 3 PM. 

This is a long and clean beach with sand and pebbles where your fur puppy can play and romp to his heart’s content. It is so much fun to watch your pooch splash and play in the water without being restrained. And during low tide, it is really interesting to see what you can find in the tide pools like crabs, starfish, and even some small fish. Look, but do not touch.  

East End Beach at Eastern Promenade Park Off-Leash Area

You know your pup is welcome off the leash when the name of the beach says so! East End Beach in Eastern Promenade Park allows dogs off-leash before 9 AM and after 5 PM from Memorial Day to Labor Day. All other times of the year, your canine compadre can be free from his leash anytime. You can find this pup popular beach across the Fore River about 15 minutes from Willard Beach. This is Portland’s only public beach, and it is very popular all year long, so do not expect it to be secluded. 

The 78-acre park is surrounded by water on three sides, including the Back Cove, Fore River, and Portland Harbor. This gives you and your fur baby all sorts of options for where to spend the day. Besides all these beach options, there is also the Back Cove Park Trail, Bayside Trail, and several other trails you can explore. Don’t forget to bring extra doggie bags and water. 

Sebago Lake State Park 

About an hour from Sebago Lake State Park is one of the five earliest state parks in Maine, opening in 1938 with almost 1,400 acres of recreational space. The park has the same rules as the other state parks when it comes to dogs. Pooches are not allowed on any beach between April 1st and September 30th. Also, they have to be on a lead and in control by a responsible pet parent the whole time you are in the park. 

But there are plenty of places along the lake and Songo River where your pup can swim year-round. Just not at the designated beach areas. Sebago Lake is the second largest and the deepest lake in the state and is very popular with the locals as well as tourists. It is great for boating, fishing, and swimming, as well as beachcombing for shells and pretty rocks. There are several awesome trails you and your pooch can enjoy too. 

Grafton Notch State Park

Further inland, about an hour to the northwest, the 3,000-acre Grafton Notch State Park is also dog friendly all year long except for the designated swimming beach areas, which follows the same schedule as the others. The park is located in Mahoosuc Public Lands within the Mahoosuc Mountain Range. If you are a serious hiker, there are 12 of the most difficult trails on the Appalachian Trail to attempt. Just make sure you and Fido are up for the challenge and register in the trail log. 

Some of the other activities popular at Grafton Notch are picnicking at the many different picnic grounds, fishing, and birdwatching. You will see a lot of historic sites here as well, with bedrock that dates back over 400 million years. There are many small creeks, rivers, and ponds where your fur buddy can swim no matter what time of year. During the winter, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing are fun. 

Ovens Mouth Preserves

Back to the coast, about 100 miles from Grafton Notch State Park, Ovens Mouth Preserves in Dover is a beautiful place to spend the day. Whether you want to play with your pup in the Back River or Oven Mouth, he is welcome any time of year, as long as he is leashed. The park spreads over two fir and spruce-filled peninsulas surrounded by water on three sides. The unique thing about this place is that it looks like two different parks depending on whether the tide is low or high.

During high tide, Ovens Mouth is rushing so fast you can hear it roaring from a distance. Low tide gives you the opportunity to look for tide pools filled with all sorts of marine creatures. You may see starfish, clams, crabs, and many other interesting species. Just do not let your canine companion get too close to them, and please do not touch. 

Laite Memorial Beach

An hour to the northeast, you and your pupster are allowed to swim and play on the Laite Memorial Beach before 8 AM and after 6 PM from May 1st to September 30th, and they do not even need a leash! During the rest of the year, he is welcome to play freely any time of the day. It is right on Camden Harbor in Penobscot Bay. This is a hidden treasure that is typically quiet and low-key because it is practically invisible from the street. Make sure you use your GPS to get there!

Swimming is popular here during the summer, though, but it is still never really crowded. They have a swimming platform about 100 feet off the shore for those who can swim well. The sandy beach is great for shelling, playing fetch, tossing around a frisbee, or even building a sandcastle. You will also find picnic tables with grills, restrooms, and water fountains. 

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is the largest park in the state, with almost 50,000 acres on the ocean. In fact, it has 60 miles of sandy beach as well as over 150 miles of trails. You simply cannot get bored here! It is about 75 miles to the east of Laite Memorial Beach, and your leashed dog is welcome all year long. However, you cannot bring pups to Sand Beach between June 15th and September 8th or Echo Lake from May 15th to September 15th. 

Public buildings are also off limits to pets as well as Duck Harbor Campground. But with 50,000 acres, you still have plenty of other places to enjoy with your dog. Hiking on any of the numerous trails will often take you to special hidden spots where you and your pup will have the water all to yourselves. Just make sure there are no signs that say “No Swimming” before diving in. 

Little Tunk Pond Beach

Little Tunk Pond is just about an hour to the northeast and allows pups and their parents to frolic and play all year long. There are 55 acres to explore, with ponds, beaches, woods, and marshes. The main beaches are even dog-friendly, so you can take him swimming with everyone else. Besides the beach, boating is also allowed, and there is a boat launch at the Four Seasons campground area. 

The water is cool and clear, making it perfect for fishing, especially for brook trout. But make sure you have a Maine fishing license. The lake is stocked every fall, but you need to find out all the regulations on whether you can keep them or not. Although a trout sandwich for lunch would be great! Do not use live fish as bait, and please remember to pick up anything your fur baby drops while you are in the park. 

Shackford Head State Park

Quoddy Head State Park is the easternmost place in the United States, just across the water from Canada. The park has more than 540 acres of outdoors for you and your canine companion to explore and enjoy, including some beaches. The official beaches have the same rules about dogs as the other state parks as they are not allowed on any beach between April 1st and September 30th. But there are many places in the park where your pup can enjoy the water all year. 

Another interesting fact about this park is that it has the easternmost lighthouse in Maine, and the historic light was built in 1808. You can also see some of the most rare plants in the country, such as Black Crowberry, Baked Appleberry (also known as Salmonberry), and sundew. But you will have to take a short hike to get to the bog where they are located. Be sure not to let your pup trample them. 

The Final Woof

Want to do something different with your doggo? Take a trip with the mailman on Casco Bay Lines in Portland. You and your pup can see the Casco Bay Islands and other sights while the boat delivers the mail to residents on the Mailboat Run. Another cool thing to experience in Maine it a lobstering trip. In Ogunquit, the Finestkind Lobstering Trip is open to dogs and you will learn all about the trade while seeing the sights. Or if you would rather stay on land, try the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, where your dog is welcome to join you at oldest electric railway museum in the world. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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