How the Tides Work in Ogunquit …

The Ebb and Flow of the Ogunquit River

The ebb and flow of the Ogunquit River is a constant part of the ebb and flow of life here at The Dunes. The tidal river provides the natural crossing point between our cottages and guest rooms on the mainland and the soft wide sands of Ogunquit Beach – rated one of the top 10 beaches in America – on the other side.  Each day the river fills and empties along with the Atlantic waters. At low tide guests can actually walk across the empty riverbed. At high tide, the rising ocean tide makes crossing only possible by boat. 

What About the Rise and Fall?

The source of the daily rise and fall of the tides is twofold: the sun and the moon. Both  exert a gravitational pull on the Earth.  But the only part that really moves is the water. As the Earth goes around the sun, and the moon goes around the Earth, they both pull on the waters of the ocean, leading to its daily ebb and flow. This motion is so regular and predictable that the position of the tides can be calculated far into the future. Just head to sources such as the US Harbors website – which charts the exact timing and height of each high and low tide for every harbor in the U.S. over the entire next year. Locally, this includes a tidal schedule for the harbor at nearby Perkins Cove.

There are plenty of places to watch the tide roll in … and watch it roll away again. Our cottages and guest rooms offer beautiful views. Or relax and enjoy the view from the comfort of one of our adirondack chairs. Take a stroll down to our dock. Or head down to Perkins Cove – which is a mile south east of downtown Ogunquit. Originally well-known for sheltering area fishermen when seas were rough, it’s now  known for its manually-operated draw-footbridge that connects the southern peninsula to the mainland, the picturesque boats anchored on the water, and the tourist-friendly shops that sell penny candy and souvenirs.

When Do the Tides Change? The tide changes daily, In fact, we keep a chalkboard in the office updated with that day’s tidal charts and windows. Low tide is the best time to take a casual stroll across the riverbed to the beach. Maybe hunt for seashells or do a little crabbing. High tide, on the other hand, usually fills the riverbed with up to 10 feet of water. That’s something to definitely keep in mind unless you want to find yourself stuck on the wrong side of the river. The Dunes provides rowboats to our guests on a first come first serve basis.

How to Cross the Ogunquit River.

Row Across from The Dunes at High Tide

Your Ogunquit cottage or guest room here at The Dunes sits on the mainland shore directly across the tidal river from Ogunquit Beach. We have five row boats available for guests to borrow on a first come, first served basis. The river is deep enough to row across during about a two-and-a-half hour window on either side of high tide, or five hours total at a time. And don’t worry.  We won’t let you borrow a boat if there’s any chance of getting stranded.

If you’d rather try a more exotic form of paddling, visit our fabulous team in the office and check out renting a kayak through The Dunes or a Stand Up Paddle Board through our partnership with Liquid Dreams. Just let our front desk know in advance and we’ll arrange everything for you.


Walk Across from The Dunes at Low Tide

When the Ogunquit River empties out, you can walk right across the riverbed to the beach. But plan to get a bit wet – even at the lowest tides. That’s the fun of it. Shallow tide pools that form in the river bed can be a fun and safe place to splash around and explore with young children. The water here is noticeably warmer than the open ocean on the other side of the sand dunes.

Drive Across the Ogunquit River from Downtown

The most obvious (and arguably the easiest) way to cross the Ogunquit River and get to Ogunquit Beach is via Beach Street from downtown. Once you’ve parked in the lot, you’ll have access to full beach facilities like changing rooms, bathrooms, and concession stands. Known as Main Beach, this section of Ogunquit Beach can get a little crowded during July and August, but it can be worth the tradeoff in convenience. Parking for the full day costs roughly $35.

Walk Across the Footbridge at Footbridge Beach

About a mile north of downtown just off Route 1, you can park at Ogunquit Beach’s second public access point. Though it has fewer facilities than Main Beach, Footbridge Beach often has fewer people too (parking fees apply here also) . The Ogunquit Trolley stops at both places and at the end of our driveway — it’s a great way to avoid a tricky summer drive on route 1.

Tides in Ogunquit are a simple phenomenon when you understand them. We post the daily tides every day. And you can always reach out to us if you need more information or are just curious about the tides. If you need assistance with anything else,including  planning your beach trip, don’t hesitate to ask us. After 87 years welcoming guests to our hotel on the Ogunquit River, we’ve picked up our fair share of tips and tricks on how to really make the most of your seacoast vacation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.