Five Things about Higgins Beach

Sunrise over Higgins Beach, Scarborough, Maine
 Higgins Beach takes up a huge place in my psyche. I have been renting a cottage here since the age of 16, first with all of my brothers, sisters, and cousins, and now with my kids.  Each year as kids we rented in the same cottage, The Wreck, which overlooked the grassy area at the riverside end of the beach. We have so many memories: packing up four large green steamer trunks with all of our gear and loading up the station wagon to the point of risking the suspension, building huge sandcastles and observing the ritual of waiting for the sea to take it back, visiting with our cousins and talking til late at night around the bonfire our parents built on the beach.

Mermaid mural in front of the Kettle Cove Creamery, Route 77, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Now the memories of vacation include trips to Kettle Cove for a double scoop pumpkin pie ice cream, visiting the chocolate moose at Len Libby's on Route One, eating huge spaghetti dinners with the whole crew, the cousins hanging out on the beach, though it has been a few summers since we all had a cottage up here during the same week.  vacation is a time to be with family, to lounge on the beach sharing stories, magazines and a bag of Twizzlers while we listen to the constant roar of the waves.

Lenny, the full sized moose made entirely of chocolate. Image imported from

Sunrise over an area of Higgins beach near the Spurwick River, where the surf creates ripples and ridges.
Now I bring my three girls and we stay at The Judith, a tiny, rustic cottage furnished with the bare essentials. The crowning jewel of this camp is the screened porch, a simple space furnished with the same four chairs and card table for the past twenty years. We enjoy waking up early and sitting there with coffee or tea and listening to the start of another beach day. It is a cool hideout for those who want to avoid the sun, and in the evenings it provides a safe getaway from the state bird.... the mosquito. This post briefly describes five things I'd like to share with you about Higgins Beach.

The Judith, 19 Vesper Street. We have been renting here for over 20 years.

This photo of the Lowell family may have been taken on a spot near where our cottage now stands. The Lowells still own our cottage and others nearby. Image imported from
Higgins Beach is a large area of land in Scarborough near the Cape Elizabeth border. Originally this was farm land; my dad tells of how he and friends worked summer jobs picking vegetables. The farm land was gradually sold off and camping platforms were build. It was a summer tent city as people waited to save up money to build their cottages.

The Breakers, circa 1930. The hotel started as a grand cottage and evolved into a hotel. It is still in operation today. Image imported from

The Breakers today. Image imported from
A current photo of Higgins Beach Inn, a place to stay, to eat a meal or stage a wedding event.
The Breakers and Higgins Beach Inn are still in operation. Navigate to the Higgins Beach Inn page to read more about the history of the Inn and life at the beach. These inns have features from the olden days, knotty pine walls, screened porches, views of the ocean, with some updated amenities. The Higgins Beach Inn has a restaurant and outside deck where you can eat a breakfast, lunch or dinner meal shaded by umbrellas and tall pines.

Winslow Homer's A Summer Night, 1890 Image imported from
The Winslow Homer studio has undergone restoration over the past few years. It is scheduled to open in September 2012. Image imported from
Winslow Homer, an American landscape painter from the late 1880's, worked at nearby Prout's Neck. The location is surrounded by grassy fields leading out to a rocky ledge area and the crashing surf. His studio still exists off of the Black Point Road and has been undergoing restoration my the Portland Museum of Art. It is scheduled to open to the public next month. The Portland Museum has many of his paintings on display and they illustrate many of the vistas that we see here at the beach.

A photo of the Wreck taken in 1929. Image imported from
The remains of a shipwreck can be found on the eastern end of the beach. A first hand recall of the event can be found here. The Howard W. Middleton, carrying coal from Philadelphia to Portland, ran aground on a very foggy day in August of 1897. I recall as a kid, finding small bits of coal as we walked the beach. The spiny remains of the ship continue as a favorite place for kids to explore seeking shells, starfish and crabs.

Winter surfing really does happen. Photo from the storm of January 2010. Image imported from
Looking pretty, waiting for the parade to pass by. Image imported from
Higgins is a great place for a vacation, thanks to the huge expanse of beach, the cool, clear water and the surf. The web cam is a daily source of homesickness relief; I check it during the winter to see if the surf is churning and the guys are busy plying the waves. Along with surfing, other forms of recreation include fishing for stripers, playing volleyball, Bocce, or Frisbee. Every July, there is a Fourth of July parade. The local gathering spot of the Higgins Beach Clubhouse is a destination on Wednesday mornings; they serve old fashioned, real doughnuts and coffee or juice for only a dollar. They also sponsor live music, craft fairs and monthly dinner events.
This is the image that comes to mind when I think of Higgins, a timeless view over the beach, painted by the glowing hues of another sunrise. Image imported from
 Most of these images can be found on the Higgins Beach website. Go and look around at more of the historical pictures that are listed under Higgins Beach History at


Mare said…
Erin, I loved this post. The things I remember about being at the Wreck & Higgins as a kid...walking up to the store for bbq chips and candy, getting french fries from the back take out window at that little restaurant across from the store, collecting shells from the rocks down by the Breakers, the big bonfires we used to have, walking the beach in the early morning with mom, dad, and Brandy, playing canasta with Susan A, those awful foam mattress that we could never get the sand out of, the years I got to stay in the good bedroom (how did we decide who got which one?), dad saving his change and then dividing it up and giving it to us to spend on candy. I hope Katie and Tyler have as many good memories as we do.
Gail said…
This looks like an amazing place. I can see why you love it so!
Anonymous said…
Hi, I really enjoy reading your blog. Because you have posted about Higgins Beach in the past my husband and I stopped there during a trip to Portland this summer. It's beautiful, I can see why you love it. Thanks for all the tips of things to do in the area. I think we'll try to stay for a longer time next year. Right now I'm working on the Imogen cowl with Quince and Co yarn. Love it.

Jan (janmarie- on Rav)
Inky077 said…
Ditto on the vacation stops! It's on our next trip-tik north!
Carol said…
Really enjoyed your post. My sister lives in the Scarborough area and I remember trips to Higgins Beach, Black Point Rd and Cape Elizabeth. I know why you like it so much. I too have many fond memories of that part of Maine.

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