How the Tides in Ogunquit Work

With its place on the ocean shore, Ogunquit, Maine is known for many things — fishing, beautiful beaches and dunes, and beautiful summer weather among the most notable. However, one thing many new people don’t often consider is a fundamental part of living next to or visiting the ocean: the tides.

Ogunquit Beach and River at low tide
At the end of the Ogunquit River. Credit: Tomwys [Wikimedia Commons. License]
Tides in Ogunquit are a simple phenomenon when you understand them, but many visitors have a hard time getting used to the daily rise and fall of the ocean. But once you understand the principal behind them, you’ll know why people say “as reliable as the tide.”

The source of the daily rise and fall of the tides is twofold: the sun and the moon. Both the sun and the moon 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, in fact, that the position of the tides can be calculated far into the future – the US Harbors website, for example, has charts of the exact timing and height of each high and low tide for the next year, for every harbor in the United States, including Perkins Cove. Knowing when the Ogunquit tides will change is essential to having a good day at the beach!

There are several good places to observe the tides at work in Ogunquit. The tidal Ogunquit River runs between the mainland and a small peninsula, and twice a day it fills and empties along with the ocean waters. The tide causes the river’s level to rise and fall by several feet, depending on the day and the strength of the tide. This also causes Maine’s famous Ogunquit Beach to sink almost entirely beneath the waves each day, only to reemerge a few hours later, ready to delight beachgoers again.

Rowboats at The Dunes Ogunquit resort

The ever-changing Ogunquit River is a constant part of life at The Dunes. When full, it reflects the memorable sunrises and sunsets, while at other times, beach goers can walk along the sandy riverbed, finding seashells and clams. The river is also our connection to Ogunquit Beach: guests can take out one of our rowboats at high tide or cross on foot at low tide. Wherever you stay — in one of our Ogunquit cottages or a guest room — the river and sandy dunes are always within sight.

Another wonderful place to observe the local tides is nearby Perkins Cove, less than a mile to the south of downtown Ogunquit. Originally, Perkins Cove was well-known for sheltering area fishermen when seas were rough. It’s also 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 fresh Maine lobster.

Sunrise at The Dunes Ogunquit hotel
Sunrise, seen over the Ogunquit River from The Dunes on the Waterfront


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