Access: Sand Beach

Group of visitors reading wayside exhibits at scenic overlook.
Visitors at the Sand Beach overlook.

NPS Photo by Aislinn Gara Grady

Quick Facts
Park Loop Road, Bar Harbor Maine 04609
The largest sandy beach on Mount Desert Island

Beach/Water Access, Bicycle - Rack, Bus/Shuttle Stop, Parking - Auto, Public Transit, Restroom, Restroom - Accessible, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Toilet - Flush, Trailhead, Trash/Litter Receptacles

Sand Beach, located on the eastern side of Mount Desert Island in Newport Cove, is the largest sandy beach found in Acadia. It is protected by cliffs on the west and the arm of Great Head to the east. Behind the beachfront are sand dunes and a wetland area, which are off limits to visitors to protect fragile ecosystems. This destination is particularly popular with Acadia visitors, and the parking area frequently fills by 9 am in the peak season.  

Note: Sand Beach is not wheelchair-accessible, as the beach can only be reached via a staircase down the cliffside. 

The beachfront is wide with ample space to relax by the waves or to swim. Be aware: The ocean water can be shockingly cold, even in the summer. The normal range is 50-60° F (10-15° C) depending on the time of year.  

Sand Beach is also a spectacular spot for stargazing. In the summer, check the park calendar for night sky ranger program times. 

Getting to Sand Beach 

The entrance to Sand Beach is located along the left side of Park Loop Road, shortly after the Entrance Station at the intersection with Schooner Head Road. Drivers will find five angled accessible parking spaces and two access lanes located in the first aisle to the right, closest to the sidewalk and the Island Explorer Bus stop. There is an additional lot above the main lot, however it does not have accessible spaces, and is accessed via a stairway. When these parking lot fill, cars park along Park Loop Road and visitors walk down to the beach. 

Visitors can also use the free Island Explorer Bus to visit this destination. The bus drops off and picks up at regular intervals throughout the day at the Island Explorer sign located at the edge of the parking lot. There is a shaded pavilion with seating located behind the bus stop. An electronic digital display notes scheduled bus arrival times. 

What to Expect 

From the main parking lot, there are bathrooms and changing rooms both with wheelchair-accessible stalls. On both ends of the changing rooms there are low-ground faucets to rinse your feet, and a water fountain on the left side of the building facing the main parking lot with multiple spouts, including a bowl at ground level for dogs and service animals. There is a bathroom facility that can be accessed by a concrete ramp located to the right of the changing station, or by two separate 5-step stairways on either side of the bathroom facility.  

Along a wide asphalt pathway with wooden railings on either side are two wayside exhibits and the stairway for beach access. The stairway to the beach has 37 steps and four landings with metal railings on both sides. 

From Sand Beach, visitors can access entrances to multiple trailheads including Ocean Path. To access Ocean Path from Sand Beach, visitors can follow the asphalt and dirt path behind the changing station and bathrooms to a 51-step stairway. This stairway also leads to the upper parking lot. 

Swimming in natural areas poses risk, strong tides and rogue waves can surprise even experienced swimmers. 

Acadia National Park

Last updated: October 23, 2023