Acadia National Park is our family’s favorite east coast national park. It is both spectacular and packed during the summer. But what if I told you there are a few secret spots to avoid crowds in Acadia National Park?
The most beautiful places in the world can still be difficult to enjoy if you can’t find a place to be to enjoy it. Our family spent 2 summers of a lifetime in Acadia and found a few amazing hidden spots.
Let’s dive in!
1) Seal Harbor Beach
Most of the beaches in Acadia are beautiful rocky beaches. These are the scenic coastlines Maine and Acadia are known for.
Many people still would like to visit a sandy beach during their Acadia vacation and there are a few options. The most crowded option is Sand Beach.
Sand Beach is crowded for a couple of reasons. It is located on the main Park Loop Road and the main shuttle route. It also has spectacular scenery.
Although Sand Beach has a parking lot that is large for most of Acadia, it is usually full all the time. The bathrooms have huge lines as well and are usually disgusting. The facilities just can’t keep up with the crowds at this spot.
Sand Beach is a great place to stop and take photos of the scenery. However, if you are looking to spend some time enjoying a less crowded beach day, check out Seal Harbor Beach.
Seal Harbor Beach is nowhere near as crowded although also not as scenic. This beach is located south of the Park Loop Road past the town of Seal Harbor. It actually has a really fancy historic bathroom.
It is best to take the Island Explorer Shuttle as there is very limited parking here, but this also helps to keep the crowds lower. Make sure to choose the correct shuttle route for this location.
Each trip we like to visit Sand Beach to take photos and then pick another less crowded location to hang out. Rocky beaches are our jam here though.
Read on to find our favorite rocky beach locations to spend the day.
Adventure Tips: Always note the shuttle hours on the route you want to take. Some routes stop running really early.
Echo Lake Beach is another nice beach option. It is more crowded than Seal Harbor Beach but it is really scenic. This freshwater beach has warmer water than the ocean, a decent-sized parking lot, and is also on the shuttle route.
2) Little Hunters Beach
If you ask the locals for a great place to beat the crowds in Acadia, most of them will tell you to go to Little Hunters Beach. By the way, always ask the locals for ideas when you travel!
Little Hunters Beach is a gorgeous rocky cove with cliffs on the sides and perfectly round, tumbled, multicolored rocks on the beach.
This place is pure magic! Not only are all the smooth rocks amazing to explore, but they make the greatest rattling sound as they tumble together with the tide.
Little Hunters Beach is not crowded because it is hard to find. It is located on the Park Loop Road but you can’t see it from the street and there are only a few parking spaces alongside the road. The shuttle doesn’t stop here.
The Park Loop Road is also still one way at Little Hunters Beach, so if you miss it you can’t turn around. Find it on Google Maps before you head out and screenshot the map because there is very little to no internet service.
You will see parking alongside the road on the right and you can barely see the top of the wooden stairs on the left that lead down to the beach.
Sissy and Van are obsessed with the colors and smoothness of the pebbles here. I think they could explore this beach for days. This is my favorite place to photograph and the sound the rocks make is mesmerizing.
Adventure Tips: Do not confuse this location with Hunters Beach that is farther down the road. You are looking for Little Hunters Beach.
If anyone in your group has mobility issues, this is not a good stop for them. It has a very long steep wooden staircase down and it is really hard to walk on the rounded pebbles.
3) Schooner Head Overlook
There is a little hidden gem located right underneath this popular park overlook. Schooner Head Overlook has a little trail on the right-hand side that winds down the cliff and leads you out onto the rocks below.
Most people get out to snap a photo at the overlook and then drive on. Some will walk down the trail and stop when they reach the rocks. But if you keep walking farther along the rocks, you will usually find the rocky cliffs all to yourself.
Our family loves to hang out in this area. We like to bring drinks and watch the waves crash. Sissy loves to climb around on the rocks and explore. It is a gorgeous space.
To find Schooner Head Overlook, turn left before entering the main park entrance gate. This road ends at the overlook. This location is not on any shuttle routes.
Adventure Tips: The crowds anywhere in Acadia are much lower after 5:00. This spot is best enjoyed later to avoid crowds.
Anemone Sea Cave is also accessible at low tide in this area. Be sure to check the tide schedule if you decide to explore the cave.
Hiking shoes are helpful in Acadia to protect your feet from the rocks and to have more sturdy footing.
4) The Schoodic Peninsula
An hours drive past the town of Winter Harbor, lies another section of Acadia National Park called the Schoodic Penninsula. The entire peninsula is a great place to avoid crowds.
The Schoodic is every bit as scenic as the main part of Acadia but minus the crowds. It is a single park loop road that takes you around the peninsula past many beautiful overlooks.
Many people like to bike the Schoodic Loop Rd and there is a park shuttle that runs the loop. Since it isn’t crowded, the shuttle will drop you off and pick you up anywhere you like along the park road. All you have to do is wave it down.
There are also a few nice uncrowded bike and hiking trails. If you have time during your trip to make the drive over to the peninsula, you will be so glad you did.
There are many amazing spots to mention here as well as unique Junior Ranger programs. This is also where we like to camp. I will create a post dedicated to the Schoodic Peninsula coming soon!
Adventure Tips: Schoodic Woods Campground is the national park campground located on the Schoodic Peninsula. It is the only national park campground that can accommodate larger RVs.
Never drive a larger RV through the main part of Acadia as there are many low clearance bridges!
Check out this complete guide to Exploring The Quiet Side Of Acadia: Schoodic Peninsula.
Best Time Of Year To Visit
If you would like to avoid crowds, skip visiting Acadia in July and August. The shoulder seasons of May, early June, and September are great times to visit with cooler weather and fewer crowds.
The Precipice Trail is also usually open in September which is a huge advantage for adventurous hikers. If you must visit in July and August, consider spending more of your time on the Schoodic Peninsula where the crowds are always lower.
Looking for activities to do in Acadia? Check out: 3 Unique Things To Do In Acadia National Park.
Have you found any secret spots in Acadia? Please leave me a comment! I would love to hear about your experiences.
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Enjoy your adventure detour!