When we decided to buy a house in Kennebunk, Maine, I was so excited to learn that there were dog friendly beaches nearby.
In fact, these were beaches where we could take our dogs were available year round.
That is, dogs could go on the sand and in the water all year.
However, the times of the day when they could do that varied by season.
On the other hand, not every beach along the Maine Seacoast welcomes dogs.
For example, when we took a day trip to Ogunquit one summer, we were bummed to learn that our dogs couldn’t come on the beach with us.
Also, we couldn’t walk them along the Marginal Way either at that time of year.
So, we walked them around downtown instead and took them out to eat with us at a restaurant with outdoor seating.
Where are the dog friendly beaches in Southern Maine
For the most part, most Southern Maine beaches are dog friendly all-day long in the off season.
This is true at state-owned beaches as well as town beaches.
On the other hand, there are some Maine beaches that welcome dogs during the summer, after certain hours.
We’ve also discovered pet friendly beaches we could take our pups Oscar and Sadie to during the day in the summer.
However, this isn’t always a good idea when it is super hot out.
Anyway, let me do a rundown of the dog friendly beaches in Maine.
These are beaches on the ocean or Casco Bay.
I’ll save dog friendly lakes for another article.
Finally, it goes without saying that if you’re taking your dog to the beach, you must clean up after them.
Photo by Leah Ingram
Dog friendly beaches in Kittery
There are a few beaches in Kittery that allow dogs.
It all depends on time of year and if you are a Kittery resident.
There are three beaches in Kittery. They are:
- Crescent Beach
- Fort Foster
- Seapoint Beach
Here are the details by each beach in Kittery, Maine.
The rules for dogs on the beach at Crescent Beach in Kittery, Maine, aren’t clear.
One, based on the Kittery Police website, it appears that Kittery residents can take their dogs to Crescent Beach, at any time during the summer months.
That is, May 15 or June 15 through September 30.
On the other hand, the rules seem to indicate that it is OK to take your dog to Crescent Beach before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
Overall, my take is that dogs must remained leashed at all times, as per this section of the rules:
“At no time may the owner or keeper of any dog allow that dog to run at large.”
According to the Kittery, Maine government website, Fort Foster is a dog friendly Maine beach year round.
That is, “Dogs are allowed in the park year round from sunrise to sunset. However, they must be leashed when the park is open for business during the season.” Dogs are restricted from the South Pier beach. All other beaches are dog friendly. You must also bring dog waste with you when you leave the park.
There is a $20 per carload entrance fee, so bring the minivan and some friends to get the biggest bang for your buck.
When I visited the Kittery Police website, the rules for dogs on the beach at Seapoint Beach were the same as for Crescent Beach.
Dog friendly beaches in York, Maine
There are four beaches within the town of York.
- Cape Neddick Beach
- Harbor Beach
- Long Sands Beach
- Short Sands Beach
It appears that the same rules apply to dogs on all three beaches, as per the Town of York Parks and Recreation website.
One, dogs are not allowed on the beach May 20 through September 20, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Two, during the time period above, leashed dogs may go to the beach after 6 p.m. and before sunrise.
Three, these ordinances seem to imply that at other times of the year–or September 21 through May 19–there are no restrictions to dogs being on the beach, except they must be leashed or under voice control of their owners.
Ogunquit, Maine, beaches and dogs
This is the Ogunquit town ordinance as it pertains to dogs on the beaches there:
“Dogs are not permitted on the following:
Ogunquit Beach area from April 1st to September 8th.
Marginal Way from April 1st to September 30th
Ogunquit River Estuary at any time.”
You can bring dogs to the following Ogunquit beaches:
- Ogunquit Beach Area from September 9th to March 31st.
- Marginal Way from October 1st to March 31st.
However, it’s not clear if these rules apply to Moody Beach, on the Ogunquit/Wells border.
Finally, all dogs must be on a leash.
Town of Wells beaches
Dogs are allowed on the beaches in Wells, Maine, year round.
Those beaches are:
- Crescent Beach
- Drakes Island Beach
- Wells Beach
However, that’s only at certain times of the year.
For example, from June 16th to September 15th, no dogs are allowed on the beach between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
On the other hand, dogs may go on the beach before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m., but must always be on a leash.
We took our pups Oscar and Sadie to Wells Beach on the evening of a full moon.
Photo by Leah Ingram
In addition, we discovered that Harbor Beach in Wells, which is not on the ocean, is dog friendly year round, even during the day.
Dog-friendly beaches in Kennebunk
For a while there were signs around Kennebunk and Kennebunkport that said, “Keep the pooches on Gooch’s.”
That’s because there were some residents who were trying to ban dogs from one of the most dog-friendly beaches in Kennebunk–Gooch’s Beach.
That’s where we take our dogs Oscar and Sadie year round, rain, sun or snow.
Photo by Leah Ingram
However, there are two times when we don’t take them there.
One, during the summer season, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., when they’re not allowed.
And, two, during high tide.
That’s because Gooch’s is a narrow beach with a man made sea wall. Therefore, during high tide, there is literally no beach at the beach–just water.
Here’s what you need to know about the tides in Kennebunk during summer.
Photo by Leah Ingram
The other dog-friendly beaches in Kennebunk are Mother’s Beach, Middle Beach and a portion of Parson’s Beach.
They all have the same summer, daytime rules as Gooch’s.
Important safety tip: one of the roads to Parson’s Beach goes through a marsh that, at high tide and during a full moon, is known to flood.
Therefore, you could get trapped at the beach until the tide goes out.
Just keep that in mind when timing your trip there.
Finally, some of these places that welcome dogs are also accessible beaches.
The Town of Kennebunkport has three beaches.
- Cleaves Cove
- Colony Beach
- Goose Rocks Beach
Here are the rules about dogs on each of these Kennebunkport beaches:
From June 15 through Labor Day, you cannot bring dogs to the beach between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Then, from September 16 through March 31, if under voice and sight control, dogs may be off leash on the beach, unless it is between 12 noon and 6 p.m.
Between these times, all dogs must be leashed.
Finally, from April 1 to September 15, dogs can go to the beach before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
Also, at any time that a dog is permitted to be on the beach, the dog must be kept at least 200 feet away from any nesting area.
Photo by Leah Ingram
City of Biddeford beaches
There are three Biddeford city beaches on the ocean.
- Biddeford Pool aka Gilbert R. Boucher Park
- Fortune’s Rocks Beach
- Middle Beach
There is a fourth beach, called Rotary Park Beach, along the Saco River.
All of these Biddeford beaches are dog friendly, with some caveats.
One, no dogs are allowed on any beaches between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., from May 25 to September 15.
Two, between March 15 and September 15, off-leash dogs are never allowed.
And, three, between September 16 and March 14, all dogs (leashed or otherwise) can go to the beach.
Old Orchard Beach
You’ll find nearly seven miles of continuous beach in Old Orchard Beach.
It also includes one of the only boardwalks and piers in Maine.
However, dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk or pier.
On the other hand, you can bring dogs onto the sand at Old Orchard Beach before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Also, your dog’s leash must be shorter than 12 feet long.
So, leave the extended leash at home.
In addition, if there is any area that’s roped off or labeled a nesting area, you must keep your dog at least 100 yards away.
Finally, outside of the restrictions between Memorial Day and Labor Day, your dog is welcome at Old Orchard Beach.
Scarborough, Maine beaches
There are four beaches in Scarborough, Maine.
Three are part of the Town of Scarborough.
The fourth is a state park.
As far as the town beaches go, they are:
- Ferry Beach
- Pine Point Beach (Hurd Park)
- Higgins Beach
And the rules about dogs on the beach apply to all three.
Here are those rules.
May 15-Labor Day
No dogs are allowed on any beach from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
However, dogs on leash are allowed from 5:00 p.m. to dusk and off-leash from dawn to 9:00 a.m.
Day after Labor Day-May 14: Dogs allowed on beaches.
Also, they must be on leash from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Finally, dogs are restricted from certain beach areas between April 1 and Labor Day to protect endangered nesting birds.
As far as Scarborough Beach State Park, this is a partnership with the Bureau of Parks and Lands and a private corporation.
All I could find when searching to see if Scarborough Beach State Park was dog friendly was one line that says, “Dogs: Allowed.”
Cape Elizabeth dog friendly beaches
Cape Elizabeth is located between Scarborough and South Portland.
In fact, Cape Elizabeth is where you’ll find the famous Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park, Maine’s most famous lighthouse.
Fort Williams Park, which is dog friendly, has a small, rocky beach.
For more traditional beaches, you’ll want to head south in Cape Elizabeth, along the coast.
That’s where you’ll find Crescent Beach State Park.
This is a state park, so the rules about dogs on the beach come from the State of Maine.
And this is what they say:
“Pets are welcome on state park beaches, provided they are leashed, from October 1st through March 31st.
Pets are not allowed on beaches between April 1 and September 30.”
South Portland beaches
The most popular beach in South Portland is Willard Beach.
That’s likely because it’s located in the family-friendly neighborhood of the same name.
My cousins who live in South Portland swim here regularly.
Here are the rules for dogs at Willard Beach.
From May 1 to September 30th, dogs are allowed to be on the beach between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and again between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. only. Also, between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., all dogs must be on a leash.
Then, from October 1 to April 30, dogs are allowed on the beaches between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. However, they must be leashed between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
There is only one public beach on the mainland in Portland, Maine, and it is called East End Beach.
I say the mainland because there are numerous islands off Portland that likely have their own beaches.
However, I’m not including them here.
Anyway, back at East End Beach, like so many beaches in Maine, dogs are restricted between Memorial Day and Labor Day, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
At all other times of the year, and the off hours during the summer season, you can bring your leashed dogs to East End Beach.
Falmouth, Maine beach
There appears to be one public beach in Falmouth, Maine.
It’s called Town Landing, and it’s on Casco Bay.
Most of the parking spots at Town Landing are for residents.
However, I haven’t been able to nail down details on whether or not Town Landing is dog friendly.
I’ll keep searching for that info and post an update once I know.
Final thoughts on dog friendly beaches in Maine
You may have noticed that I did not include all of the coastal communities in Southern Maine.
That was on purpose.
For example, the Town of Cumberland has beaches.
However, dogs are prohibited from going to those beaches at all times.
Same with Freeport, Maine–no dogs allowed.
However, there are plenty of dog friendly stores in Freeport, Maine.
Also, you can take your dogs mini golfing at one course in Maine.
So, if you don’t see information here on dog friendly beaches along the coast of Southern Maine, now you’ll know why.
Of course, if I’ve missed an oceanfront beach in Southern Maine that does allow dogs, please let me know.