Although Rhode Island is the smallest US state, it’s home to 384 miles of combined coastline. Its impressive geography gives beach lovers the pleasure of always being near the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.
Also known as the “Ocean State” for its abundant shoreline, Rhode Island’s numerous spectacular beaches will leave you spoilt for choice. Although it would be fantastic to visit all of them, you may not have all the time or would like to know where to start.
Let’s navigate Rhode Island beaches by learning their policies, best features, history, and accommodation options.
1. Narragansett Town Beach, Narragansett
Narragansett Town Beach is best known for its vibrant surfing community and pleasant weather. It has annual lows of 52 and highs of 72 degrees, the perfect weather for a beach day.
Narragansett Town Beach runs for about a mile and covers 20 acres. With tens of thousands of beachgoers on the weekend, the beach can get pretty crowded. However, there are fewer people on weekdays and early in the day for those who enjoy some privacy.
Narragansett Beach is one of the best beaches in Rhode Island for surfers of all levels. When it comes to catching the best waves, the early bird gets the worm. Waves are best in the morning!
The surfing-only designated area is separate from the general swimming area. With that said, experienced surfers prefer the lower beach traffic. It’s also a great time for those who want to avoid “stage fright” from curious onlookers. If you’re a beginner, you can rent equipment at nearby surf shops. There’s also plenty of opportunities to book lessons from experts.
Narragansett Town Beach also has accommodation for non-residents that’s close by. Since Narragansett Town Beach is on the edge of town, conveniences like food are close by.
2. Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly
Misquamicut State Beach lies between the Atlantic Ocean and Winnapaug Pond. It features miles of shore to enjoy and is known to be a family-friendly beach.
The gradual beach drop-off is ideal for children. There’s also a facility with a playground and picnic areas to enjoy.
Other fun activities include dining, including seafood restaurants nearby, and local events. At the Easternmost end of the beach, you will find the Atlantic Beach Park, which faces the ocean it’s named after.
Another major attraction near Misquamicut Beach is the Water Wizz of Westerly. It features a water park for those who prefer a sand-free experience. To enjoy mini-golf or go-karts, check out Bayview Fun Park. We also highly recommend checking out the historic Flying Horse Carousel in Westerly.
For travelers, there are plenty of accommodations at Misquamicut State Beach. There are options for both long-term and short-term visitors.
3. Easton’s Beach, Charlestown
Easton’s Beach, or ‘First Beach,’ is located at the beginning of the Cliff Walk in Newport and is another family favorite. This Charlestown Beach has something for everyone including carousels, a skateboard park, and live music.
East Beach’s main attraction is the Save the Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium. It’s located in Rotunda, the Convention Center at Easton’s Beach. Here, you can learn about ocean ecology and see various animals such as crabs, turtles, and urchins.
The second biggest attraction at East Beach is the facilities. They have almost everything you would need for a day by the ocean. You will find well-maintained showers and restrooms, a snack bar, grills, and picnic tables.
First Beach doesn’t want anyone’s experience to be limited. They even offer special beach wheelchairs so that you don’t have to carry your own.
Local stores have all the things you need for your day oceanside. There are also many shops to rent boogie boards and beach chairs for a small fee.
4. East Matunuck State Beach, South Kingstown
East Matunuck State Beach is a beautiful beach found on Hazard Island’s Atlantic-facing shore in South Kingstown. The beach is expansive, but it’s also quite popular, so it’s best to get there early to find parking and a good spot on the sand.
East Matunuck is on the part of the ocean that makes the surf strong. The waves can be large and powerful, so this beach isn’t recommended for young children and poor swimmers. With that said, there are lifeguards on duty.
Many skilled surfers find East Matunuck to be the best beach for surfing in Rhode Island. Active beachgoers also enjoy East Matunuck State Beach for boogie boarding and body surfing.
5. Goosewing Beach, Little Compton
Are you looking to stay away from the crowds? Then, Goosewing Beach in Little Compton is the place for you. It’s also ideal for nature lovers.
Goosewing Beach features grassy dunes and endangered species. And, instead of beach bums and surfers, you can find flocks of birds. This is because it’s part of the Goosewing Beach Preserve that’s home to the Least Tern and Piping Plover.
The Goosewing Beach community is centered around nature. Its main attraction is the Benjamin Family Environmental Center. This complex is located adjacent to Goosewing Beach. Here, you can go on guided nature walks and take part in educational exhibits.
6. Roger Wheeler State Beach, Narragansett
Roger W. Wheeler State Beach covers 27 acres on Narragansett’s southern shore, all within a protective three-mile seawall. The soft sand is welcoming and the calm surf is excellent for children and those still learning how to swim.
Roger Wheeler State Beach offers ample peace of mind. There’s abundant parking and a well-equipped beach pavilion. There are even seasonal lifeguards. Children also enjoy the on-site playground.
To change things up, you can check out the Salty Brine State Beach. This tiny beach is at the far western end of the same shoreline and offers gentle surf and seafood restaurants nearby.
7. Crescent Beach, Block Island
Crescent Beach is one of Rhode Island’s hidden gems. This breathtaking beach is on the east side of Block Island. It’s only accessible by ferry, but the trip is worth every second.
Crescent Beach runs for two and a half miles from Old Harbor to Clay Head and is one of the largest beaches off the mainland. Although it’s off the mainland, this offshore beach is just as equipped as the other beaches.
Halfway up the beach, you’ll find Frederick J. Benson Pavilion or the “Town Beach.” Here you can find concessions, restrooms, showers, and more.
At the Pavilion, you can also get everything you need to explore the beach. Rent a bike or moped at the ferry landing to explore the nearly 17 miles available on Block Island.
Pro tip: Carry your camera because you’ll definitely want to capture some of the most beautiful landscapes on Block Island. The lighthouse also makes for a perfect shot!
8. Watch Hill Beach, Westerly
Have you ever seen the antique 1867 Flying Horse Carousel? This iconic site can be seen on Watch Hill Beach. Another fun fact – Watch Hill gets its name from being one of the most popular beaches for watching spectacular sunsets.
The beach extends south into the Atlantic to form the Watch Hill Point. Only a short walk separates you from Watch Hill Lighthouse. This peninsula boasts a coastline that stretches for miles, perfect for anyone who loves exploring.
If you find Watch Hill Beach too crowded, the less requested East Beach is nearby. The only challenge is that you’ll have to find parking in town and walk to the shore.
Watch Hill Beach is near the small town of Watch Hill, where you can find many amenities. Shop, dine, and explore the downtown area situated along the waterfront.
9. Ballard’s Beach, Block Island
Ballard’s Beach is one of the most famous beaches on Block Island. It’s named after one of the most famous Block Island oceanfront hotels: Ballard.
Beachgoers at Ballard’s Beach get just about all the amenities they could want. Daytime visitors can rent water activity equipment and private cabanas from Ballard.
If you’re visiting Block Island in the summer, enjoy a lively vibe with live music and beach bonfires.
To check out a nearby beach, Fred Benson Town Beach offers a long stretch of sandy beach. Here you can find rentals, food vendors, and lifeguards.
10. Reject’s Beach, Newport
Although it’s a locals favorite, travelers also love Reject’s Beach. It’s located at the eastern end of Newport’s Cliff Walk and next to the exclusive Bailey’s Beach. It’s only accessed by bike or on foot since parking is in town.
Reject’s Beach might be small, but little crowds don’t make it feel that way. It’s a simple spot with no facilities or lifeguards. Make sure you come with everything you need and you’re sure to enjoy a peaceful day by or on the water.
Although it’s not a huge beach with a lot going on, Reject’s Beach can feel like a private beach on less crowded days. It’s the perfect spot to get away!
11. Napatree Point Beach, Westerly
Another laid-back beach worth checking out is Napatree Point Beach. It sits east of Watch Hill and is the perfect spot for bird watching.
Napatree is an uncrowded beach with no facilities. This is another beach that you need to come to fully prepared. The beach thing about this beach is that what it lacks in beachgoers and amenities, it makes up for in wildlife.
This beach is overseen by the Watch Hill Conservancy. It allows a limited number of people who mainly come to watch birds in their natural habitats or lounge on the soft sand. Napatree is an inviting place to visit for nature lovers and solitude seekers.
12. Sachuest Beach, Middletown
Visitors and locals love all that Sachuest Beach has to offer. This beach is only a few miles from Newport and is also known as “Second Beach.”
Not only is Sacuest an exciting family-friendly beach, but it’s also less crowded than most of its neighboring Rhode Island beaches. You can find conveniences such as restrooms, showers, grills, and more.
Sachuest Beach is popular among surfers, with the west end of the beach even called the “Surfer’s End.” There are also several places to rent a surfboard or book lessons to hit the waves.
13. Mohegan Bluffs, Block Island
Mohegan Bluffs is one of the best beaches in Rhode Island if you’re into exploring. Located at the base of large clay cliffs, Mohegan Bluffs doesn’t offer sands for sunbathing or building sandcastles. However, it does offer special scenery you can’t find at most other beaches.
For a unique experience, reach the best of Mohegan Bluffs by foot from the Mohegan Bluffs Trailhead. To see the view from atop the bluffs, continue along the upper trail. At the top, you can watch the sun setting over the ocean from 150 feet above the water.
For another special experience, follow the trail to the South East Lighthouse. This National Historic Landmark offers incredible architecture viewing.
14. Charleston Beach, Block Island
On the west side of Block Island, you can find another gem for beach lovers who prefer a more secluded feel. Charleston Beach is a tiny beach with a shoreline that’s filled with pebbles.
Due to the rockiness, it’s best to avoid swimming, surfing, and playing in the sand. Charleston Beach is most appropriate for people who want to wade in the water or take photos of the scenery. It’s also the perfect spot to sit and read a book or take a nap.
15. East Beach, Charlestown
One of the most pristine of Rhode Island and worth a visit at least once in East Beach. It’s surrounded by conservation areas and a wildlife refuge on a strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and a coastal salt pond called the Ninigret Pond.
This Charlestown beach is semi-exclusive and offers limited parking. To get the most of your time on East Beach, it’s best to arrive early. If you arrive later, you can always check out Blue Shutters Town Beach at the east end of East Beach.
While most of East Beach is secluded, some sections have lifeguards. Toilets and changing rooms are found every few miles.
The most popular activities available on East Beach are swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. People also like to kayak on Ninigret Pond. It is also an excellent place for bird watching because of the many nearby conservation sites.
For a unique experience, visitors enjoy staying at the beachfront campground.
Frequently Asked Questions
To help you fully enjoy your experience at the best beaches in Rhode Island, let’s answer some common questions.
How Do I Get a Rhode Island Parking Pass?
Go to the Rhode Island State Beaches parking pass website to purchase a resident, non-resident, or senior season beach. Clear instructions are provided on the site. Details on payment can also be found on the official RI state beach site.
The seasonal parking pass allows entry to 8 Rhode Island state beaches.
Are Rhode Island Beaches Free?
Yes, all Rhode Island beaches are free to the public. They also have free parking in the off-season.
Are Beaches in Rhode Island Open to Non-Residents?
Yes, all Rhode Island beaches are open to non-residents.
Rhode Island is a haven for east coast locals and visitors alike. With waters for water sports enthusiasts, family-friend beach options, and everything in between, Rhode Island beaches have it all!
We hope that our expertise on the best beaches in Rhode Island has inspired you to enjoy your time by the sea.