I’m on the fence about writing this post. On the one hand, I would like to share the wonders of Secret Beach with our dear readers. On the other hand, I would prefer to have Secret Beach all to myself after a hard day’s work. Today, lucky readers, my egalitarian impulses trump my sipping-a-daiquiri-on-the-beach-alone daydreams. Secret Beach isn’t that much of a secret anyway. Secret Beach, occasionally referred to as “Pirate’s Cove,” is actually a designated boat launch within Odiorne State Park.
The first time I went, I had no idea what to expect. Some friends said, “Let’s go to the beach!” and, naively assuming they meant the people watching paradise that is Hampton, I grabbed a towel and hopped in their car. Halfway there, they said, “We’re not going to Hampton… We’re going to Secret Beach.” My NH beach-going hasn’t been the same since. As we pulled into the parking lot, my heart sank. There was no sand, the Piscataqua at low tide smelled like butts, and there were a bunch of annoying kids running around. “It’s just a little farther in the woods,” my friends said to reassure me. I schlepped my towel, book, and snacks into the forest, my flip flops flip flopping about. The trail was Pocahontas-esque and flanked by poison ivy (which I’m highly susceptible to) on either side. Finally, there were glimpses of white sandy goodness.
Through the trees, I could see a picturesque sliver of beach hug the river where it emptied into the sea. Our intrepid team of pioneers staked out a virgin spot of sand and set up camp. I surveyed my surroundings: stone jetties off in the distance, a verdant evergreen forest behind me, and a killer view of that bourgie hotel I’ll never be able to afford to stay in across the river. We stayed for most of the day, doing all of the things one would normally do at the beach, except for stepping on cigarette butts and fighting off gluttonous seagulls. Secret Beach is pretty much my go-to now, but I still try to frequent Wallis Sands and good old Hampton Beach from time to time. It’s also a killer spot for kayaking and boating. As with everything in life, Secret Beach has its drawbacks. Swimming is possible but sub-par unless you like walking in muck and getting pinched by the occasional crab. The water is much warmer than the open ocean, though. There are also no snack shacks, boardwalks, or reggae background tunes. Essentially, there is no civilization. The port-a-potties are all the way back at the parking lot and don’t come close to the luxurious facilities at Wallis Sands. In my opinion, the flaws are insignificant in the face of raw New Hampshire coastal beauty.
The next time you need beach therapy, consider Secret Beach as a relaxing alternative to the chaos that is Hampton. Parking at Secret Beach is fairly painless… and did I mention it’s free?! Speaking of freedom, a bald eagle majestically soared over Secret Beach during one of my mini getaways last summer. If that’s not reason enough to check out Secret Beach, I don’t know what is.