Now that summer is in full swing, we’re rounding up some of the best beach picks from Globe staffers to help readers explore New England’s coveted coastlines.
New Englanders wait all year for the months that are upon us, and people are — understandably — escaping to the coast in droves.
Be it a Saturday morning or a Wednesday afternoon, you can already count on a steady crawl of traffic going over the Bourne and Sagamore bridges. But for many, it’s worth it. There’s something OK about sitting in gridlock when salt air, lapping waves, and sunny skies are on the other side.
Here’s a look at some of the greatest shorelines along the arm of the Cape, and what to expect when you get there.
Coast Guard Beach
Ranked among the top 10 beaches in the nation, we can’t talk about the Cape without talking about Coast Guard Beach. Located in Eastham, Coast Guard is a prime destination for swimming, relaxing, hiking, and soaking up the natural beauty of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Seals are often spotted here, which means an occasional shark sighting can’t be ruled out, either. From mid-June to Labor Day, nonresidents should expect to park at “Little Creek,” located a short distance west of the beach, where a shuttle picks up passengers. The cost for vehicle parking is $25, and $15 for those on bicycle or on foot. There is no entrance fee for active-duty military and their dependents with proper ID, or for children under 16, according to the National Park Service website.
How to get here: 2 Ocean View Drive, Eastham, 02642. Click here to see a map.
A little more mid-Cape is the unique and sprawling Mayflower Beach in Dennis. At low tide, you can walk for miles along the tidal flats, making it a perfect spot for sunsets, sandcastles, and skim-boarding. Located on the Cape’s calmer Bay side, the water here is warmer compared to some of the Atlantic-facing coastlines, and is usually seaweed-free. With parking, a snack bar, and restrooms on site, this powder-soft sand beach is among the Cape’s most accessible, and it was recently ranked one of the best on the Cape by travelawaits.com. But be wary: The parking lot fills up fast. Daily rates are $25 for weekdays and $30 for weekends, according to the town website.
How to get here: 2 Dunes View Road, Dennis, 02638. Click here to see a map.
Old Silver Beach
Getting closer to the bridge, Old Silver Beach in Falmouth is a popular option for families with its warm, calm water, and top-notch views of Buzzards Bay. A jetty splits the beach into public and residents-only zones, and each area has its own parking lot, snack bar, and bathrooms. As it’s located just around the corner from downtown Falmouth, this beach tends to get pretty busy. Parking is $30, according to falmouthma.gov.
How to get here: 296 Quaker Road, Falmouth, 02556. Click here to see a map.
Race Point Beach
Taking it all the way back up to the tip of the Cape off Route 6 in Provincetown, Race Point Beach is a paradise for those who like the remote, raw feel of the Outer Cape. Located in the northernmost point of the Cape Cod National Seashore, Race Point features high dunes, historic lighthouses, and colder Atlantic-facing waters. There are bathrooms, a gift shop, and a Life-Saving Station that houses a small museum. An observation deck gives a panoramic view of the area, where whales and seals can sometimes be spotted. This beach was the only Massachusetts beach to make this year’s AAA Best Beaches in New England roundup, which described the views of the endless seas as breathtaking. There is a parking lot on site, and the access fee is $25 for vehicles, and $15 for those on bicycle or on foot. There is no entrance fee for active-duty military and their dependents with proper ID, or for children under 16, according to the National Park Service website.
How to get here: Drive to the end of Race Point Road off of Route 6 in Provincetown. Click here to see a map.
This Outer Cape beach always seems to be making headlines. It’s not only a popular site for tourists, but for great whites, apparently, as well. With larger swells, cooler Atlantic-facing waters, plus plenty of shoreline, this Orleans beach boasts plenty to do for every type of beachgoer. Pay attention to the water, and to the lifeguards, because shark sightings are not uncommon here. Parking is $30.
How to get here: 250 Beach Rd, Orleans, MA 02653. Click here to see a map.
Sandy Neck Beach
This celebrated beach in Barnstable features colorful rocks, shallow tidal pools, sand dunes, and a wooden boardwalk. The town website calls it “a living museum,” because of its ecological history and old structures, but it still affords plenty of recreational opportunities. Sandy Neck is designated as a Cultural Historical District because of the many antique dune shacks and cottages, including the Sandy Neck Lighthouse. Park in the Gatehouse lot near the public beach or drive-on if you have four-wheel-drive and a vehicle permit (Barnstable Residents $95, Non-Residents $190).
How to get here: 425 Sandy Neck Road W. Barnstable, MA 02668. Click here to see a map.
Head of the Meadow Beach
Part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, Head of the Meadow Beach in Truro is a beautiful, calm beach, with miles of shoreline to explore. Seals and abundant marine life can be spotted here, as well as the occasional shark. Situated way out there between Wellfleet and Provincetown, on the right day you may encounter fewer crowds. Watch the waves, observe the shorebirds, and enjoy this peaceful, unique Cape destination. Daily parking is $25.
How to get here: Click here to see a map.
Don’t see your favorite here? Tell us which spot you’re partial to and we may include it in a future story: