Maine has some of the most coastline of any state in the U.S. (even more than California!), and as such, it has one of the longest beaches of any state! Today, we are going to take a look at this massive 7-mile-long beach and learn a little about it. We will also discuss the area and some of the animals that live nearby. Let’s get started!
The Longest Beach In Maine
Carved from the impressive 3,478 miles of coastline that Maine has, Old Orchard Beach is the longest beach in Maine and one of the longest ones in the U.S. that is solely used for “pleasure.”
For people who live in the area, Old Orchard is known as a beach of pure perfection. This beach is the longest in Maine, stretching for 7 miles along the coast of Saco Bay. It’s also one of the most popular and lively beaches in the state, attracting thousands of visitors every year. Sand covers the entire beach (no harsh rocks to step on), plus it’s centrally located, so no worries about having to trek miles through the forest to find it. There are three towns that sit on the border of Old Orchard, Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach (rather fitting), and Saco.
Incredibly, Old Orchard Beach makes up 10% of all the beaches in Maine. Doing some quick math, that means Maine only has 70 miles of usable beach in the state with the second-largest coastline – pretty incredible!
What Can You Do At Old Orchard Beach?
The beach is known for decent sand and surf that isn’t too rough, making it ideal for families and kids. It also has lifeguards, restrooms, and showers nearby, so it’s a great place for a day trip.
Old Orchard offers swimming, plus beach-side essentials like sunbathing and just plain old relaxing. On top of water activities, one of the area’s notable features and attractions is the pier. Jutting out from the beach, the Old Orchard Beach Pier measures 500 feet long and is an ideal spot to enjoy a water view. You can also watch people as they fish, and if you get bored, you can explore the area storefronts. What’s more, the beach features an arcade and amusement park called Palace Playland.
A little away from the water, there are three small towns with their own attractions and features. Together, the three towns create a nostalgic destination for people who want to experience some of that “old town” beach feel mixed with modern shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, and the like.
Where is Old Orchard Beach?
Old Orchard Beach is located on the southern coast of Maine in the United States. It helps form part of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan area and is about 17 miles south of Portland, the largest (and probably most well-known) city in Maine.
Geographically, Old Orchard Beach is situated on the inner side of Saco Bay, a curved section of the larger Gulf of Maine (part of the Atlantic Ocean). The like-named town (Old Orchard Beach) borders Scarborough to the northeast and Saco to the southwest. Old Orchard Beach has a year-round population of about 9,000, but as a beach and resort town, it changes drastically during the summer.
You can reach Old Orchard Beach by car, but part of its fame is its ability to be reached by train! If you have the ability, traveling here via train could be the ultra nostalgic way to arrive in this already nostalgic area. Just travel via Amtrak’s Downeaster service. If traveling by airplane, the nearest major airport is Portland International Jetport, about 12 miles away.
Animals Near (or In) Old Orchard Beach
Besides the humans that live and visit near Old Orchard Beach, Maine is a fantastic place to see some wildlife. Maine’s location and relatively low population make it one of the few places on the U.S. mainland where wildlife exists as it did hundreds of years ago.
Some of the most important coastal mammals that live in Maine include otters, mink, raccoons, and white-tail deer. Due to the extremely rocky shores and intertidal zones, the area is relatively predator-free. As a result, these somewhat uncommon animals thrive here, especially on the coastal islands.
Besides mammals, Maine’s coast is extremely important to the region’s industry. Ever heard of Maine lobster? Other essential oceanic creatures include halibut, herring, scallops, and northern shrimp. In fact, almost Maine’s entire shoreline is designated an “essential fish habitat” by the NOAA, as seen on this map. More important animals in the bay include whales (humpback, pilot, minke, sperm, orcas, and right).
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/AppalachianViews
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