Location Spotlight: Wells Beach

January 4, 2023  |  Wells Beach, Maine

Located on the coast of southern Maine in York County, is a popular summer destination called Wells Beach. Wells Beach is somewhat of a rarity on the Maine coast, as one of a handful of sandy beaches on an otherwise rocky coastline. There are still plenty of rocks, but there's more than enough sandy areas to lay out on a towel, set up a lounge chair, or play in the sand.

Rocks sit in tidal pools just before sunrise on Wells Beach, Maine. 

Wells of Tranquility

Rocks sit in tidal pools just before sunrise on Wells Beach, Maine.

Not that I do any of those things. I first stumbled upon Wells Beach in one of my first trips to Maine in 1999. I happened to wander to it at low tide, which was perfect, as I was able to discover the hard-packed, rippled sand, as well as the reflective tide pools that dot the beach at low tide. I often wonder if I'd have ever gone back had it been high tide, since, as I found out years later when I hadn't checked the tides, at high tide, the rocky areas I sought for photos are well underwater and inaccessible, with only a strip of sand near the sea wall able to be walked on.

Tidal pools reflect the glowing morning sky over rocky Wells Beach, Maine.

Reflected Tranquility

Tidal pools reflect the glowing morning sky over rocky Wells Beach, Maine.

The first time I visited after moving to Maine in 2016, I also got lucky. At that point I still hadn't known to check the tides. Learning about that would come on my next visit! Regardless, the tide was out and I was able to make the image below, "Dawn on Wells Beach". I find the rippled sand, sculpted by the ocean and wind, to be fascinating, and when you catch in the early morning light, the play of light and shadows on the beach is a work of art in itself.

Dawn on Wells Beach, Maine. Wells is the third oldest town in Maine, and a popular summer destination.

Dawn on Wells Beach

Dawn on Wells Beach, Maine. Wells is the third oldest town in Maine, and a popular summer destination.

I prefer to visit the beach when low tide coincides with sunrise. The low angle of light creates those gorgeous shadows, and if the sunrise is particularly colorful, the colors are reflected in the pools of water left on the beach around the rocks. This makes Wells Beach somewhat unique in that many locations are more preferable when the tide is high, with waves crashing over the rocks. So when high tide isn't an option, this is one of several spots I visit again and again. The patterns in the sand are always changing, and it's fun to walk around, find compositions of rocks and water and sand, and see what kind of images I can make.

Large rocks sit in a tidal pool on a cloudy morning in Wells Beach, Maine.

Cloudy Morning on Wells Beach

A moody scene on Wells Beach shows barnacle covered rocks reflected in a tide pool on a cloudy morning on the coast of Maine.

Being there at dawn, watching the sun come up, is one of the most peaceful times for me. The ocean rumbles as waves wash over the sand, but far enough back that I don't have to worry about getting wet. The sky begins to glow, and the light comes up and reveals the patterned sand. Sea birds will begin calling as they look for breakfast. It's the perfect start to a day for me. Afterwards, I will often stop by Congdon's Donuts for a treat. Their donuts are among the best in Maine, so I highly recommend stopping.