Best Cape Cod Beaches
Occupying nearly 600 miles of coastline in southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod is a summer haven for New Englanders eager to soak up some sun after a harsh winter. From kid-friendly spots with tide pools to stretches of sand with prime surfing conditions, the region’s diverse shores offer something for everyone. Factors such as scenic beauty, facilities, nearby sights and expert and traveler opinions to determine the best Cape Cod beaches. Have a favorite?
Mayflower Beach’s beautiful views make it a favorite among visitors of Dennis. At this Mid Cape beach, low tide means travelers can walk for miles until they reach the sea, and it’s the perfect place to watch the sun set. The beach is ideal for families; there are lifeguards on duty, as well as picnic areas, public bathrooms and plenty of room for beach games. Plus, the parking lot conveniently connects to the beach via a boardwalk. Because Mayflower Beach is located on the bay side, the waves are usually calmer than those at other Cape beaches.
One of Cape Cod’s most well-known beaches, Marconi Beach can be found in Wellfleet’s section of Cape Cod National Seashore. It is backed by large sand dunes, is home to seals and offers consistent waves that visitors can surf outside of the lifeguard-patrolled swimming area. While the beach is popular, its massive size makes it easy for beachgoers to find a spot in the sand. However, accessing the beach from the parking lot requires descending a steep staircase, so travelers with mobility issues may want to choose a different stretch of sand.
Race Point Beach
The rough waters at Provincetown’s Race Point Beach are ideal for surfing, but the beach also has some shallow areas better suited for swimming. If you’d rather stay on shore, you can sunbathe or bike the adjacent Province Lands Bike Trail. Race Point Beach is also home to the Old Harbor Life-Saving Station, which dates back to the late 1800s and welcomes visitors seasonally. What’s more, the beach sits 3 miles northwest of downtown Provincetown, where you’ll find multiple restaurants and shops.
Veterans Park Beach
If you’re in the mood for a seaside picnic, Veterans Park Beach is the perfect spot. This small but charming beach in Hyannis offers picnic space, barbecue areas, a snack shack, a playground and ample space for playing beach games. Because of the beach’s proximity to Hyannis Harbor and the Hyannis Yacht Club, it’s a great place to watch boats sail by. There is also a well-maintained park area with two memorials – one commemorating the Korean War and one in honor of former President John F. Kennedy – you can explore should you need a break from the sand.
Old Silver Beach
Old Silver Beach’s warm, calm water makes it a popular option for families. It offers top-notch views of Buzzards Bay, and from the sand, visitors can see across the water to other coastal Massachusetts towns. A jetty splits the beach into public and residents-only sections, and each area offers its own parking lot, snack bar and bathrooms. Plan on arriving early since Old Silver Beach’s proximity to downtown Falmouth means it often gets crowded.
Consider visiting family-friendly Ballston Beach if you want to avoid the masses of beachgoers at other Cape Cod beaches. Located in the town of Truro, this beach offers less-crowded sands for lounging, consistent waves for water sports and picturesque golden hills for photo-ops. In fact, Ballston’s tranquil setting inspired work from American painter Edward Hopper. But remember, you’ll need to purchase a beach parking sticker, which you can only buy if you’re staying in Truro, to park on-site during the summer months. Plan on biking to the beach if you do not qualify for a parking sticker.
Sandy Neck Beach
Pebbly Sandy Neck Beach spans 6 miles in Barnstable, a town in the Mid Cape area. Known for its 4,700 acres of dunes, marshes and forests, this beach doubles as a wildlife refuge for a variety of animals, including the endangered piping plover bird. Plus, Sandy Neck boasts charming shacks and cottages, as well as walking trails. One portion of this picturesque beach is also designated for off-road vehicles, so drivers with permits can cruise onto the shore.
Offering showers, umbrella rentals and handicap accessibility, Craigville Beach in Barnstable is convenient for everyone. While it attracts many swimmers and sunbathers to its wide swath of shore, recent visitors said it’s also a great spot for children. What’s more, several restaurants sit across the street, making it possible to quickly grab lunch. Parking is easier to find here than at other sandy spots in the region, but keep in mind that like other Cape Cod beaches, Craigville requires buying a beach sticker to park on-site.
Situated in the town of Orleans on Cape Cod Bay, Skaket Beach features warm, calm water and a flat shore, two features that make it a good choice for families. During high tide, kids can swim as parents and lifeguards look on, while low tide exposes tide pools and a seemingly endless stretch of sand to explore. Just be sure to arrive early: The beach’s parking lot often fills up by late morning. Or, opt for a late afternoon visit to watch the sun set.
Nauset Beach’s 10-mile stretch of sand attracts active travelers in droves. In addition to featuring protected areas for swimming and boogie boarding, this Orleans beach offers off-road trails and designated sections for surfing. The waves are top-notch, and there are often seal sightings (as well as the occasional shark sighting) off of the coast. Nauset also features a gazebo that hosts free outdoor concerts weekly in July and August, which makes it a popular choice among summer visitors. Keep in mind, though, that fees apply for on-site parking.
Coast Guard Beach
Eastham’s Coast Guard Beach in the Outer Cape regularly earns accolades for its stunning views and dunes. Beachgoers will find large waves for surfing and boogie boarding, as well as volleyball courts. The beach’s namesake – a former coast guard station – also sits on the shore, and visitors can explore the grounds of the historical building when they’re not watching the beach’s birds and seals. To get to the beach, non-residents must bike to or park in the Little Creek lot and use the free shuttle.
Chatham Lighthouse Beach
A long beach that’s rarely crowded because of its lack of parking, Chatham Lighthouse Beach earns praise for its cleanliness and views. This beach a mile southeast of downtown Chatham offers terrific swimming conditions most days, but lifeguards do not patrol this stretch of sand, so be sure to pay attention to the colored flags on the shore – red ones mean it’s not safe to swim. If you can’t take a dip during your visit, go for a nature walk to watch passing fishing boats and migrating seals. Or, admire the beach’s working lighthouse, which is occasionally open for climbing.
West Dennis Beach
Upon arriving at West Dennis Beach, you’ll discover a cluster of kites scattered across the sky and several windsurfers trying to conquer the waves. The beach is long, flat and easy to access – you’ll find it in the Mid Cape area – and offers all kinds of amenities, including a playground, a snack bar, seasonal lifeguards and public restrooms. There is also a large parking area, so it shouldn’t be difficult to park your car on-site. Remember to avoid the east end parking lot since this area is reserved for locals.
Newcomb Hollow Beach
A Wellfleet staple, Newcomb Hollow Beach is known for its massive sand dunes and its excellent surfing conditions. Daytime visitors enjoy fishing here and often spot seals just off shore. Meanwhile, those who arrive at night can build beach bonfires (with a valid permit) and roast marshmallows while bonding with family and friends. Remember, Newcomb Hollow’s impressive dunes mean its access point features a steep staircase, so the beach isn’t handicap accessible.
Located in Yarmouth, Seagull Beach is a long strip of shore that overlooks Nantucket Sound. It’s the town’s largest beach and one of its most popular ones for families and young adults. The calm water makes it a top spot to go swimming, while the steady breeze means adventurous travelers can try various water sports like windsurfing and kiteboarding. The beach is also an excellent place to go bird-watching. Just don’t expect to see too many seagulls: Despite its name, Seagull Beach is not home to many seagulls.
Breakwater Beach in Brewster attracts families in droves thanks to its small size, convenient parking and superb natural amenities. Parents can easily keep an eye on their young children while they play in the clean sand. Plus, the beach showcases tidal pools at low tide, giving beachgoers the chance to look for critters and seashells while enjoying a scenic stroll. Although Breakwater Beach is small, most visitors agree it never feels too crowded.
Cold Storage Beach
Flanked by rock jetties and backed by sea grass-covered dunes with beautiful houses, Cold Storage Beach is a superb choice for those in or near Dennis. Visitors can relax on the sand – which provides plenty of space for groups – while watching boats sail by. What’s more, the beach’s location on the bay side of Cape Cod means it offers calm water ideal for families. However, only residents with permits can park in the beach’s lot before 5 p.m. in summer, so plan on parking at the nearby harbor.
Chapin Memorial Beach
To many people, Chapin Memorial Beach’s secluded atmosphere is a welcome respite from Cape Cod’s summer commotion. This Dennis beach is best for anyone who wants to simply lay in the sun and read a book without getting distracted by hordes of people. It’s also a popular spot for clamming and features tidal pools filled with sea creatures. However, the beach does not offer the conveniences you’ll find at other Cape Cod beaches, such as public restrooms and snack shacks, so plan accordingly.
Head of the Meadow Beach
With two designated parking lots – one for Truro residents and another for Cape Cod National Seashore visitors – and proximity to some of Truro’s best restaurants and shops, Head of the Meadow Beach is an appealing option for everyone. During low tide, beachgoers can go for a walk, skim board or check out the beach’s tidal pools. When the tide comes back in, travelers can enjoy surfing or swimming. Lifeguards are on duty at Head of the Meadow Beach throughout Cape Cod’s peak summer season to ensure vacationers stay safe.
Red River Beach
The small waves that crash on the shore of Red River Beach are perfect for kids who want to go boogie boarding or swimming. Plus, this Harwich beach’s mostly flat water makes it easy to try activities like kayaking and canoeing. While Red River is a bit smaller than other beaches on this list, there is still plenty of room to stretch out on the sand and play beach games. The fee-based parking lot can be found close by, and the snack shack is available to supply a tasty treat during the warmer months.