Posted by: Kate | July 23, 2008

Desperately Seeking Beach

Cross-posted at New England Mamas as part of a “Secret Spaces and Hidden Gems” series… there are giveaways for commenters there, so go check it out…

There could be any number of legitimate, responsible, grown-up reasons behind why I moved from upstate New York to New England.  The right grad school for me, better professional opportunities, a reasonably big city not too far away from home… I can rationalize it all.

But the real reason for my eastward moves?

The beach.

It just touches something in me, smooths out the rough edges.  I’ve been able to measure the intensity of a crisis in my life by how long it took me to walk it off.  I’ve also taken myself to the beach to celebrate birthdays, positive pregnancy tests, and New Years Days.  It’s a Zen thing.

And, for me, it’s the beach, specifically.  Not the ocean; I love the sounds and the smells and the beach glass and the ambiance, but I don’t actually need a bathing suit.  I’m not an immersion kind of gal.  I’m far, far too conscious of that enormous, face-sucking crustacean just past my field of vision, about to brush up against my leg and cause instant heart failure.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time weighing the pros and cons of the beaches within my reach.  My all-time favorites are those along the North Shore of Massachusetts: Wingaersheek, Crane, Good Harbor.  Gorgeous, flat beaches, clean water, reasonably accessible facilities.  But those are all enough of a drive from home now (which I optimistically refer to as “the Seacoast area” of New Hampshire, though that’s like calling Connecticut “just outside New York City”… it’s a stretch) that I’ve been frequenting more of the New Hampshire and Maine beaches.

New Hampshire has roughly four feet of public beach space, so the pickings are necessarily slim.  Hampton Beach is very accessible, mere steps from parking to road and more “facilities” (read: occasionally clean bathrooms and a plethora of overpriced shovel-and-pail sets) than you can shake a sandy toddler at, though make sure you bring a full roll of quarters for the parking meters.  Wallis Sands and Rye Beach are OK, a bit rocky and small for my taste but good kid-beaches.

As for Maine, many of the beaches feel very similar to me: a long, flat coastline, with tides that come in an awful lot farther than you’d expect, interrupted by expanses of rocks and private properties.  But there’s one that we do like, enough that we’ll probably drive back up once in a while even after we’ve bought my dream house within walking distance of the ocean back on the North Shore and it will be quiet and beachlike and… what?

Sorry.  I distract myself, sometimes.

Anyway, my favorite less-than-an-hour beach?  It’s not a secret, though if you all converge upon it at once then the twelve available parking spots will be taken up, and I will be forced to glare menacingly in your general direction.  When I go, it’s most often on Mondays, since I have every Monday off from work and traffic is considerably less tourist-infested during the week.  (Seriously, folks; if you’re a tourist, how’s about you park first and then sight-see, instead of multitasking?)

It’s called Cape Neddick.  You’ll use your powers of Google if you really want to find it.  It’s a small beach, so any serious problems would have to be walked off elsewhere.  And there are no facilities close by, though the campground staff will let you use the bathroom if you speak softly and carry a desperate toddler.  But it has gentle waves, rocks to climb on, neat critters, excellent beach glass, and noticeably different personalities between low and high tides.

It’s a day well-spent.  Worth the sandy shoes and sticky sunscreen.



  1. I love Cape Neddick. God, you made me miss the ocean so badly just now. I might just show up on your doorstep one of these Mondays and demand a day at the beach with you!

  2. I’m a bit like you, I like looking at the sea, walking along a beach, fossicking in rock pools but imersion . . . I’m always a little concerned that overzealous Greenpeacers with good intentions might try to roll me back into the water and send me on my way to Antarctica . . .and being the largest Island in the world, we’re not short of beautiful beaches. Yours look very different however but very beautiful

  3. Looks beautiful. I’m an ocean gal, myself. It’s been a love affair since I was tiny.
    I’m glad you give a good review to Crane Beach, that is where we are going on vacation this year. We rented an old farm house in a marsh, and it’s a stone’s throw from Argilla Rd. and Crane Beach. I can’t wait!

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