Ogunquit’s unique geography makes it one of the most beautiful places for a Maine vacation, but it can also be a little confusing for first-time visitors. The Ogunquit River, which fills and empties with the tides, runs north-south (parallel to the shoreline) for nine miles, meeting the Atlantic Ocean just past downtown Ogunquit. Ogunquit Beach—and the soft white sand that makes it famous—actually lies on the ocean side of the tidal river. With just a tiny bit of planning, crossing the Ogunquit River is easy and fun.
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 $25.
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. The Ogunquit Trolley stops at both places and at the end of our driveway — it’s a great way to avoid paying to park.
Row Across from The Dunes at High Tide
Your Ogunquit cottage or guest room here at The Dunes sits about halfway between Main Beach and Footbridge beach, right on the shore of the Ogunquit River. When you step off the far side of the boardwalk, you’ll be on quietest section of sand.
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. We keep a chalkboard in the office updated daily with that time window, and 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, our friends at a local rental shop can deliver kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals right to The Dunes — please give us a heads up in advance if you’d like to arrange this.
Walk Across the Ogunquit River at Low Tide
When the Ogunquit River empties out, you can walk right across to the beach. Shallow tide pools that form in the river bed can be a fun and safe place to splash around and explore with young children, and the water here is noticeably warmer than the open ocean on the other side of the sand dunes.
If you could use a hand planning your beach trip, don’t hesitate to ask us — after 80 years welcoming guests to our hotel on the Ogunquit River, we’ve picked up our fair share of tips and tricks for relaxing in Maine.