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A guide to some of the best beaches in Greater Boston

People gathered at Nahant Beach in Nahant.Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe

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.

Residents around Boston are lucky in that they don’t have to go far when in need of some salt water and sunshine. Sure, there are the backyard staples like M Street Beach, Castle Island, and Wollaston (and we recommend these spots, too), but if venturing slightly outside the city limits is an option, we’ve rounded up a few destinations worth checking out.

Here’s a look at some of the best beaches in the Boston area, and some tips about what to expect when you get there.


Nahant Beach

Nahant Beach.Blake Nissen for the Boston Globe

For beachgoers north of Boston, Nahant Beach is part of a two-mile stretch of beach in the peninsula town of Nahant. Enjoy a dip in the water, a surf in the swell, or opt for a bike ride or run along the bike path located just beyond the sand. This beach was ranked among North Shore Magazine’s favorite spots north of Boston. The cost for Mass. residents to park is $10, and $40 for nonresidents. Beware, on busy days the traffic to get into the lot can get heavy.

How to get here: Nahant Beach, 1 Nahant Rd, Nahant, MA 01908. Click here to see a map.

Nantasket Beach

Nantasket Beach in Hull.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Located in the peninsula town of Hull, Nantasket Beach is a great escape for those situated south of the city. This calm and clean beach is perfect for families, and low tide reveals a playground of tidal pools for kids to explore. The tides are substantial, though, and be aware that high tide makes it tougher to spread out. The reservation includes a mile of the Atlantic shoreline, and there are areas to bike and hike nearby. There are also bathroom facilities, athletic fields, and a playground on-site. Included in Boston Magazine’s roundup of the state’s 100 best beaches, expect crowds, especially on the weekends, so get there early. Those with Massachusetts plates can expect to pay $15 to park, while anyone out of state will pay $40, according to the Patriot Ledger.


How to get here: 212 Nantasket Ave, Hull, MA 02045-3017. Click here to see a map.

Good Harbor Beach

Beachgoers walked the shore at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Located in Gloucester on the North Shore, this picturesque curved white-sandy stretch is a popular destination for those willing to make the 40-or-so minute drive from the Boston area. Lazy, rolling waves make for relaxed swimming conditions, and at low tide, beachgoers can enjoy a stroll out to Salt Island. Note that surfing and all inflatable objects are prohibited when lifeguards are on duty (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily), and parking fills up fast. The town has adopted a “carry in-carry out” policy, so be prepared to leave with any trash you bring. This beach was recently featured as a “dream vacation spot” on VacationIdea.com. There are bathrooms and concessions on-site, and parking is $30 during the week, and $35 on weekends, according to gloucester-ma.gov.

How to get here: 99 Thatcher Rd, Gloucester, MA 01930. Click here to see a map.

Crane Beach

Crane Beach in Ipswich.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Crane Beach in Ipswich, while a little further north than Good Harbor, is worth the trip. It bills itself as “the Northeast’s most spectacular beach,” and offers more than 1,200 acres of beachfront, dunes, and maritime forest, and boardwalks and trails offer beautiful walks through a landscape of salt marsh. This beach is a Trustees property, and on the weekends, parking is $25 for members, and $45 for nonmembers. On weekdays, parking is $15 for members, and $30 for nonmembers.


How to get here: 310 Argilla Road, Ipswich, MA 01938. Click here to see a map.

Spectacle Island

Boston's skyline provides a backdrop for swimmers enjoying the beach on Spectacle Island.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Part of the Boston Harbor Islands, Spectacle Island is a nature-filled refuge from city life, and is just a short ferry ride away. This 114-acre island is the ideal location for swimming, hiking, boating, and taking in the panoramic views of the city’s harbor. It has a small but accessible, lifeguarded beach, and though it has a rocky shoreline, this stretch of sand is known for its abundance of sea glass. This is the closest and most popular of Boston Harbor’s 34 islands, and ferry tickets are $25 round-trip for adults, $23 for seniors, and $18 for kids. Tickets can sell out, so buy in advance if you want to guarantee a specific time.

How to get here: You can pick up the public ferry to the Boston Harbor Islands from two locations: Long Wharf North in Boston near Christopher Columbus Park (click here to see a map), or at the Hingham Shipyard (28 Shipyard Drive, Hingham MA 02043, click here to see a map).


Salisbury Beach

SALISBURY, MA - 6/23/2021: Lifeguards on Salisbury Beach, warm weather, fewer lifeguards, canceled swim lessons could be behind the recent string of drownings. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff ) SECTION: METRO David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Salisbury Beach overlooks the point at which the Merrimack River feeds the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a great place to swim, boat, camp, or take yourself on a nature walk through the barrier beach or salt marsh environment. The 3.8 mile coastline provides ample space for swimming and sunbathing. Parking is $14 for Mass. residents, and $40 for non-residents, through Oct. 13, according to the state reservation website.

How to get here: State Reservation Road, Salisbury, MA 01952. Click here to see a map.

Duxbury Beach

A beach bridge on Duxbury Beach.Stephan Savoia

Duxbury Beach is a barrier beach in the town of Duxbury — about 40 minutes from Boston. Stretching about six miles long, Duxbury Beach is accessed by the Powder Point Bridge from Duxbury, or Gurnet Road from Marshfield. This beach is widely considered one of the most accessible and family-friendly in Massachusetts. With facilities on-site, and food nearby, this beach was called a “best-kept secret” by Vogue Magazine. Parking is $20 per car.

How to get here: 435 Gurnet Rd., Duxbury, MA 02332. Click here to see a map.

Scusset Beach

Scusset Beach.John Stapleton

Located on the southwest corner of Cape Cod Bay, this beach spares you the Bourne/Sagamore bridge traffic, but still boasts glorious close-to-the-Cape views. Enjoy 1.5 miles of beachfront, or take a walk along the jetty to watch ships pass through the Cape Canal. Cool off in the water or fish along the pier, and even camp overnight. Parking for the day is $14 for Mass. residents, and $40 for nonresidents.


How to get here: 20 Scusset Beach Road, Sagamore, MA 02562. Click here to see a map.

Horseneck Beach

Horseneck Beach in Westport.Dina Rudick

Located in Westport, Horseneck Beach is one of the state’s most popular. Swim, camp, or hike along this relaxed sand beach that spans about 600 acres. Located at the western end of Buzzard’s Bay, the 2-mile long beach is also great for bird watching. Parking is $13 for Mass. residents, and $40 for nonresidents.

How to get here: 5 John Reed Road, Westport, MA 02791. 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:

Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.