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The Best Beach in Maine for Sand Dollars
You never know what beautiful and fascinating things you’ll discover when searching the sandy shores of York, Maine’s beaches, but there is one thing you’re more likely to find there than anywhere else in the state — sand dollars.

Long Sands Beach, in particular, is known as the best beach in Maine for sand dollars. So if you’re interested in bringing home a unique souvenir, that’s where you want to look. But what exactly is a sand dollar, and how can you find one on Long Sands Beach?

The Fascinating Sand Dollar

While the sand dollars you can find on Long Sands Beach may look like a decoration or something from an arts and crafts project, they were actually once living creatures who called the ocean their home. These little invertebrates are related to sea urchins. Although they’re flat rather than round, one thing that the two creatures have in common when they’re still alive is their spines.

The flat white disc you might find while combing the beach is actually the skeleton of the sand dollar, which has lost its spines and become bleached by the sun over time. While they’re still alive, sand dollars are actually a purplish color, just like many sea urchins.

Sand dollar’s spines are used to find and eat food. They sweep the sand and water for tiny debris, algae, crustacean larvae, and other small organic matter and then slowly work the food toward the sand dollar’s mouth, where it chews for up to 15 minutes and digests for up to 48 hours.

Finding Sand Dollar in Maine

How to Find a Sand Dollar on Long Sands Beach

Long Sands Beach may be the best beach in Maine for sand dollars, but that doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to find one any time you stop by. Part of the fascination with these interesting little creatures is how elusive they can be, even in the places where they’re most abundant.

Here are some tips on finding a sand dollar on your next visit to Long Sands Beach.

Keep an Eye on the Tides

When the tide rolls out, it reveals a whole world of ocean-bound objects and creatures that you’d never otherwise have glimpsed. This is the best time to go searching for sand dollars. Wait for low tide, and then begin your hunt by searching along the high tide line.

Check After Storms

If you happen to be in York during a storm, the following day is your best bet for finding a sand dollar at Long Sands Beach. The wind, the waves, and unusually high tides that storms cause can result in a ton of interesting things washing up on shore. And at a place like Long Sands Beach, at least a few of those interesting things are likely to be sand dollars.

Look Out for Round Patches in the Sand

Sometimes, sand dollars will wash ashore but remain hidden beneath the sand. As water and wind rush over that sand, it sometimes forms into the unusual circular shape of the sand dollar beneath. If you spot one of these round patches, you may have hit the jackpot.

How Can You Be Sure a Sand Dollar Isn’t Alive?

If you do find a sand dollar while combing Long Sands Beach and it wasn’t in the water, odds are it has already died. But if you’re unsure, you can flip it over and check to see if there are spines on its underside. If there are, and they’re still moving around, the sand dollar is still alive. Return it to the ocean and continue your search.

Sand Dollars Make the Best Souvenirs

There’s nothing like a souvenir from a great vacation that wasn’t bought at a store, but rather was a part of the experience itself. Make sure to keep these tips in mind and happy hunting!

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