Are you thinking of taking a dream beach getaway? The beaches in Massachusetts aren’t as popular as many others on the east coast, so you can expect a peaceful vacation in this part of New England. Enjoy miles of beautiful, unspoiled beaches, quaint seaside towns, and tons of nature.
Aside from its coastline, Massachusetts is also full of history. Being that it’s one of the original 13 colonies and the place where the Mayflower landed, you can expect a variety of iconic landmarks to check out. It’s also become a cultural and literacy hub.
There’s really something for everyone in Massachusetts! And, if you choose to spend all your time on the sand and in the water, that’s perfectly fine. Let’s check out the 15 best beaches in Massachusetts. We’ve got big-city beaches to tiny hidden gems and everything in between.
1. Lynn Shore & Nahant Beach Reservation, Nahant
Lynn Shore & Nahant Beach Reservation is an idyllic beach located on a small stretch of land that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean in central Massachusetts. If you’re looking for a great beach that offers some seclusion, this peaceful natural reserve will be right up your alley.
The waters are relatively calm and are perfect for canoeing and kayaking. It’s also a great place for a swim. When you’re not in the water, you can enjoy sports courts including tennis, baseball, and soccer. Hiking and biking opportunities on the trail are a can’t miss, too!
For a unique adventure, “Bike to the Sea” is a popular paved route that runs right along the coast that could take you all the way to Boston! It’s a well-traversed, safe route and gives you unparalleled views of the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
Lynn Shore & Nahant Beach emphasizes safety for all and that’s reflected by lifeguards being on duty every day. There’s also a first aid station and beach wheelchairs available for rent. Other amenities include picnic areas and a playground.
Although you can visit this beach at any time of the year, it’s best and most popular during the summer months when temperatures hover around 75 degrees. Parking is available at the beach between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. While Massachusetts residents pay $10, expect to pay $40 if you’re a non-resident. There’s also street parking on Lynn Shore Drive, but get there early because it fills up quickly.
2. Castle Island, Boston
If you’re visiting Boston and want a quick seaside getaway, Castle Island is well worth a visit. It’s an easy 15-minute drive from downtown Boston, perfect for an afternoon at the beach. Castle Island sits on a peninsula on Pleasure Bay and is well known for its beautiful stretches of sand and calm waters that are perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
Castle Island and Pleasure Bay Beach was the brainchild of Frederick Law Olmstead, an eminent architect who designed some of the country’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. With 22 acres of beach and nature, this destination is made for anyone wanting to relax or do a little bit of hiking.
At the beach, you can also find a boardwalk, picnic areas, and a playground. Other conveniences include restrooms, showers, and lifeguards.
While visiting Castle Island, you can explore Fort Independence, a granite bastion fort that provided harbor defenses for Boston. This is also a great free place to park, but get there early to claim your spot especially during the summer season. This iconic, historic fort offers spectacular views of Boston Harbor and its islands – the sunset scenery is incredible!
During the summer, temperatures on Castle Island are in the high 70s and low 80s. This is ideal for the beachgoer who doesn’t like it to be too toasty!
3. Race Point Beach, Provincetown
Although Cape Cod is known for having the best beaches in Falmouth, MA, Race Point Beach in Provincetown is a hidden gem that rivals Falmouth beaches. Indeed, Race Point is easily one of the best beaches in Massachusetts and a Cape Cod treasure.
The beach is located in Provincetown, a bustling seaside village right on the tip of Cape Cod. It’s famous for its art, museums, culture, and stunning coastlines. It’s also the place where the Mayflower landed in 1620, so history buffs have a few things to do, too!
With temperatures that sit at a pleasant mid-to-high 70s all summer long, it’s easy to enjoy a day by the water. With that said, the waters can be unpredictable. Therefore, it’s advisable to pay close attention to swimming notices in the area. Fortunately, there are designated stretches of Race Point Beach that are ideal for beginner swimmers. Race Point Beach’s bathrooms, changing rooms, and showers also make it a great family-friendly spot.
If you’re looking for things to do after your time on the beach, you’re in luck! A favorite activity for hikers is The Province Lands Bike Trail which reaches Herring Cove, a secret beach. There’s also an easier path that goes to Race Point Lighthouse and takes about 45 minutes to an hour-long. Check ahead of time to see if there’s a lighthouse tour available during your visit!
If you’re looking to hang out in Provincetown during your vacation, there are many charming accommodations. You can find various Airbnbs and hotels for every kind of traveler.
4. Coast Guard Beach, Eastham
If you love history and/or swimming, Coast Guard Beach is a must-visit! It has the distinction of being the first place sighted by the Mayflower in 1620. It’s also considered one of the best beaches in Massachusetts for swimming. The beach is named for the old white Coast Guard building that still sits on the dune above the beach and it’s managed by Cape Cod National Service.
Although Coast Guard Beach is off-the-beaten-path, it’s extremely popular with both locals and tourists. You might find a slight crowd during the high season, between Memorial Day and early September, and parking can fill up. Most people park at Little Creek and walk a few minutes to the beach itself. Though there is parking on Coast Guard Beach, it’s strictly for locals and those with disabilities.
When you arrive at the beach, you’re in for a treat! Prepare to spot plenty of wildlife including birds, sharks, and seals. When you’re ready for a swim, don’t worry about the sharks as they shouldn’t be anywhere near the shore.
Coast Guard Beach sits right on Massachusetts’ marshlands and there’s a boardwalk that gives you exquisite views of both the marsh and beach. Since the soft sand is vast, you won’t have a problem being able to find a spot to sunbathe and soak in nature, especially if you choose a spot away from the boardwalk.
Other activities beachgoers enjoy at Coast Guard Beach include boogie boarding and picnicking. There are also plenty of amenities since the beach is part of a national service. Some of these include restrooms, showers, and water access.
5. Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Chatham
Chatham Lighthouse Beach is accessible from the charming town of Chatham itself. Though Chatham is famous for its incredible cuisine, museums, restaurants, and theaters, the main draw is undoubtedly its gorgeous beach dominated by Chatham Light.
Chatham Light is an active lighthouse operated by the Coast Guard to ensure safe passage for ships navigating the coastline. Although Chatham Light is not usually open to the public, they offer special events and tours (mostly during the summer). Check the calendar out here!
Chatham Lighthouse Beach is the biggest beach in town with lots to do during your day by the ocean. Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and watching wildlife. If you’re lucky, you may even see one of the area’s resident seals or some migrating birds during your visit. The long beach is also perfect for taking a walk and enjoying the views.
Keep in mind that while visitors enjoy swimming, it’s important to make sure water conditions are safe. There is no lifeguard on duty at Chatham Lighthouse Beach. With that said, there are beach and boat patrols nearby if needed.
Parking is a little tricky at Chatham. There’s no parking lot by the beach so you may have to park away from the water and walk. There are plenty of beach shops and restaurants to check out on your journey!
6. Savin Hill Beach, Dorchester
Dorchester’s Savin Hill Beach is an underrated gem and local favorite that a lot of tourists don’t know about. During the summer, you can enjoy temperatures that hover right around the mid-70s and plenty of great amenities like trails, a playground, and sports fields. A beach vacation doesn’t get much better than that!
Savin Hill Beach is an incredibly easy spot to go for a day trip. Its straightforward, accessible, and free parking is a key reason why it’s one of the best beaches in Massachusetts. You don’t have to spend the better part of the day getting there and it’s a beautiful spot!
Savin Hill Beach is part of the Dorchester Shores Reservation, a collection of three public beaches. You can find great waters for swimming, lifeguards on duty, ball fields, and restrooms. If you’re feeling up for an adventure, take a walk to the nearby Malibu Beach, another part of the Dorchester Shores Reservation designed by the Olmsted brothers.
The Savin Hill neighborhood itself is a sophisticated, safe part of Dorchester with tons of culture to explore. It’s especially famous for its historic homes, stunning views, and extensive public transportation.
Savin Hill Beach tends to get pretty crowded during the day, but it’s especially popular at night when you can relax and watch the sunset over the Boston skyline. If you decide to go at night, remember that both Savin Hill and Malibu beaches close right after sunset.
7. Madaket Beach, Nantucket
Madaket Beach in Nantucket is another excellent destination to visit if you want to experience pleasant mid-70s weather and picturesque scenery. On the far end of the island, Madaket Beach is easily reached by shuttle or bike.
The trails around the beach are bursting with local plants and flowers and are safe to explore at just about any time of day or night. Once you’re on the sand, Madaket is a long, thin beach with a few tricky spots to walk on. The sand dunes at Madaket tend to be on the high side, so be careful getting past them. Once you do, you’ll be rewarded with some of the finest sunsets in all of Nantucket.
Be mindful when you’re in the water at Madaket Beach as there can be cross-currents and strong waves. With that said, there are lifeguards on duty. You can also conveniently find restrooms at the beach.
If you prefer to stay out of the water, there are miles of nature trails around the beach. You can also relax on the sand while you check out the views. There’s also a mile-long path that takes you into the heart of a cranberry bog abounding with local wildlife.
Madaket Beach is entirely accessible from Nantucket and has the advantage of a wide selection of places to stay nearby. Try the Nantucket Hotel & Resort for a luxurious experience or one of the many Airbnbs for a comfortable, relaxed, and local stay. While you’re visiting Nantucket, the Whaling Museum and bike tours are popular activities worth checking out.
8. Joseph Sylvia State Beach, Oak Bluffs
While much of Martha’s Vineyard beaches are private, Joseph Sylvia State Beach in Oak Bluffs is a public beach that beachgoers love. It sits right between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, facing the idyllic Nantucket Sound. Want to rub elbows with the rich and famous while working on your tan? This is the spot!
Although the waters are safe for swimming, Joseph Slyvia State Beach happens to be where the iconic 1970s thriller Jaws was filmed. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about sharks in the waters of this state beach.
The white sand off Joseph Sylvia State Beach slopes gradually into the water and there are very few risks of rip tides or currents. If you’re visiting with your family, this is perfect for the little ones!
Other exciting activities include kitesurfing and windsurfing when the wind kicks up. There are also tons of seashells and sea glass to find. These are easy to scoop up during low tide. If you’re into fishing, visit Joseph Sylvia from May to November and there’s a good chance you’ll catch some striped bass!
Except for a couple of concession stands, the facilities and amenities are on the sparse side at Joseph Sylvia. So, be sure to plan ahead! However, it is wheelchair accessible and there is free parking available. It does fill up quickly during the busy season so get there early to snag a spot. You can also take a shuttle from Edgartown or Oak Bluffs or bike along the beach from either location.
If you visit during the low season, October to March, feel free to bring your pet along! This is also a great time to enjoy the beach without a crowd.
9. Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester
If you’re looking to have fun in the sun in Massachusetts, don’t overlook Gloucester beaches. Wingaersheek Beach is one of the best beaches in the area known for its warm water and tons of amenities. In the summer, you can expect water temperatures hovering right around 66 degrees with air temperatures in the low to mid-70s.
Visit Wingaersheek Beach at low tide and there’s a good chance that you’ll find plenty of seashells and sea glass. It’s an excellent place to grab a cup of coffee and take a nice stroll down the white sand. Although dogs aren’t allowed on Wingaersheek Beach during the summer months, you can bring your pet along between October and April.
If you’re looking to get in the water, be mindful of where you get in. Occasionally, the shallow water off the beach can develop rip currents. Signs will point out areas safe for swimming. During peak season, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, lifeguards are on duty during the day. If you’re interested in surfing or taking any flotation devices in the water, this is prohibited while lifeguards are on duty.
Wingaersheek Beach opens at 8 a.m. and closes right at 9 p.m. Restrooms and showers are available during this time, too. There’s paid parking available that can fill up when the beach is busy. Therefore, it’s advisable to arrive early.
10. Constitution Beach, Boston
While there is a multitude of beaches near Boston, Constitution Beach gets extra points for being right within the city limits. This man-made, sandy beach is a unique crescent shape and offers lots to do. Best of all, it’s got one of the best sunset views along the Massachusetts east coast.
This public beach is local Bostonian’s favorite in Orient Heights, just like popular Wollaston Beach. You’ll find fun crowds, numerous concessions, showers, changing rooms, a playground, a baseball field, basketball, and tennis courts, as well as a long stretch of beautiful beach to relax on.
During the summer, the temperature at Constitution Beach hovers at around the mid-70s with water temperatures comfortable enough for most swimmers. There are also lifeguards on duty during peak season.
The beach is open all day until dusk and boasts fantastic views of Boston Harbor and Logan International Airport. Thanks to its prime location, Constitution Beach offers an excellent vantage point to watch planes take off and land over the water.
Since it’s free and known for its spectacular sunsets, it’s always a good idea to arrive early as spots fill up fast. Nearby, there are green areas to explore, including a vast, tree-ringed field that’s ideal for picnicking or playing a game of tag or kickball with the family.
It’s easy to reach Constitution Beach by car or the MBTA bus. If you’re taking public transportation, simply get off at Bennington Street and you’ll only have to walk a short distance. If you’re driving, you’ll find plenty of parking right on-site, even at busy times.
11. Carson Beach, Boston
Carson Beach, also known locally as “L Street Beach,” is relatively close to South Boston. In fact, you can get there by taking the Red Line subway to the JFK/UMass exit and following the signs to the beach. Alternatively, you can go by car, but parking is often limited during certain times of the year.
As with many public beaches in Massachusetts, the Department of Conservation and Recreation maintains Carson Beach, so its three-mile stretch is generally pristine, walkable, and very safe. Carson Beach is very popular with locals and pets who just want to get out of the city for a little while. It’s actually one of the best pet-friendly beaches in Massachusetts.
Tranquil waters and lifeguards on duty make Carson Beach a safe, fun place to go for a swim. There are also shower rooms, changing areas, and restrooms. Like to enjoy a snack after your swim? There’s also usually a snack bar by the water.
Since Carson Beach is wider than a lot of the beaches in the area, there’s a good chance that you might run across an impromptu game of volleyball. It’s a great place to make friends, check out the sunset, and get your sunshine fix. You can also explore the long beach while hunting for sea glass.
Another massive plus for Carson Beach is that it’s dog-friendly. Your pup will love running back and forth across the vast stretches of sand and frolicking in the shallow water by the shore. Since there are comparatively few rip currents and waves at Carson Beach, you can rest assured that your pet will be totally safe.
12. Crane Beach, Ipswich
Crane Beach, located near Ipswich, Massachusetts, is a nature lover’s dream. It’s conveniently situated on a massive expanse of conservation property. The beach itself stretches an entire four miles and is packed with powdery sand.
Although it might be hard to pull yourself away from the beach, staying put would mean missing out on the many hiking trails nearby and the biggest pine forest in the North Shore area. Go for a stroll and check out some of the region’s exquisite wildlife and flora. All of the trails at Crane Beach are safe, accessible, and shouldn’t be too much of a physical strain to navigate.
While dogs are not permitted at Crane Beach during the summer months, you can bring them between October and March. Occasionally, there are events organized at nearby Crane Estate, Appleton Farms, or Ipswich Clambake. Regardless, you can usually get apple cider donuts or fresh, delicious seafood after your day at the beach.
While there’s a parking fee to visit Crane Beach, many visitors don’t mind. Once you’re parked, you can enjoy a snack bar, cafe, restrooms, boardwalk, and more. Beach wheelchairs ensure everybody has access to this awesome beach!
13. Spectacle Island, Boston Harbor
Spectacle Island is one of the best beaches in Massachusetts due to its effortless balance between being just four miles from downtown Boston and still feeling like it’s in the middle of nowhere. As with much of New England, the summer temperature is usually in the high 70s or low 80s. This harbor island is excellent for swimming, watersports, or simply relaxing on the beach.
As a public beach, Spectacle Island has found fame for its swimming, outdoor concerts, hiking, and boating. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a trek up to North Drumlin, the island’s highest point, and check out Boston Harbor. North Drumlin is especially stunning right at sunset.
You can get to Spectacle Island by ferry or private boat, which typically takes about 20 minutes. Although ferry schedules change seasonally, there should be at least a few runs daily during the summer months. Get your spot early, especially if you want to schedule your visit to Spectacle Island during the summer or on a holiday.
14. Walden Pond, Concord
One of the best beaches in New England isn’t even on the Atlantic Ocean itself. Popularized by legendary author Henry David Thoreau, Walden Pond State Reservation is a sanctuary for swimming, hiking, or boating. With lots of charm, Walden Pond is a first-rate destination to get in touch with nature and experience a different side of Massachusetts.
Walden Pond is popular during the summer months when there’s plenty of fishing and swimming to be had, but the iconic pond has a lot to offer even during the fall. In particular, the foliage boasts spectacular colors and incredible photo-taking opportunities. Sit and take in the views or explore trails around the pond.
There’s a small parking fee and spaces can fill up quickly when it’s busy. You can also walk or bike in at no charge. If you want your leashed pet to come along, visit between November and March.
Since Walden Pond is just 20 miles away from Boston, you can easily make a day trip out of it from the big city. If you’re looking for a unique way to cool off during the summer or want to take a hike during the fall months, Walden Pond is the perfect spot!
15. Head of the Meadow Beach, Truro
If you like getting off the beaten path, Head of the Meadow Beach is the place to go. It’s so remote that it’s the least visited beach managed by the National Park Service at Cape Cod National Seashore. At the beach, you can find a broad sandy shore and shorebird nesting habitat.
Because Head of the Meadow Beach is a focal point for nesting and migrating birds, pets are not allowed in certain areas. Signs will give you a heads up so you know where furry friends are permitted.
Aside from birdwatching, there are also many other activities to experience. In fact, Head of the Meadow Beach is a great place to swim and participate in watersports. Lifeguards are on duty all season long.
Head of the Meadow Beach is completely accessible for visitors with disabilities. There’s handicap parking and beach wheelchairs available to use.
You can buy daily beach passes for $20 at Head of the Meadow Beach or get a Truro Beach Parking Sticker online for the season. Head of the Meadow Beach is close to several attractions, restaurants, and Truro Vineyards, where you can sample local wines after your day at the beach.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before you pack up your beach gear, there are a few other things to know before visiting Massachusetts beach vacation. Let’s take a look at some common questions!
What is the difference between a private beach and a public beach?
A public beach is open to everyone and private beaches aren’t. With that said, public beaches don’t always require a beach. All of the beaches in Massachusetts on our list offer public access. Some require a fee, while others don’t.
How do I know if a beach is safe for swimming?
Although most Massachusetts beaches are perfectly fine for swimming, sometimes heavy rain or flooding can impact the water quality. Lifeguards are on duty at many beaches in Massachusetts and signs along the beaches usually tell you which areas are safe for swimming.
If there’s been a big storm, you can always check the official Massachusetts government website to make sure that your preferred beach is safe.
What are some general beach-going rules that I should abide by?
No matter where you go, you should always show common beach courtesy. Clean up after yourself and try to keep the beach nicer than you found it. Always pick up pet waste, too.
Another important beach rule – be courteous of others. Don’t blast loud music with neighbors close by and watch out for your chicken to ensure they don’t bother other beachgoers.
Most importantly, have fun!
Are the rules about dogs strictly enforced?
Anyone who has a dog knows how fun it is to see them frolic at the beach. Unfortunately, some beaches don’t allow your furry four-legged friends to join you for a fun day in the sun and there may be fines if you bring your pet along.
Be respectful of beaches that don’t allow pets. Oftentimes, the reason is that the beach is home to migrating birds or other wildlife.
Looking for an awesome, pet-friendly beach in Massachusetts? Check out Carson Beach in Boston.
We hope our list of the 15 best beaches in Massachusetts has inspired you to plan your next beach trip! Whether you’re looking for a tranquil escape or a fun beach where you can hit the water, Massachusetts beaches have you covered!