With almost 600 miles of breathtaking coastline, Cape Cod is home to some of the best beach destinations on the East Coast. In this guide, we’ll share the best Cape Cod beaches and answer some common questions about this stunning Massachusetts peninsula.
Locals refer to Cape Cod as The Cape. Over 200,000 residents live in this slice of paradise, which boasts 15 charming towns. These towns are split into the Upper, Mid, Lower, and Outer Cape.
Cape Cod is also a popular summer vacation spot due to its pleasant weather and beautiful beaches. Visitors most enjoy spending time on the shore, exploring lighthouses, and eating delicious seafood.
Let’s take a look at the best Cape Cod beaches so that you can discover the magic of Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Best Cape Cod Beaches
Many Cape Cod beaches are protected by Cape Cod National Seashore, and open to the public. There are also other amazing seaside destinations outside of the national seashore. No matter what kind of beach experience you’re looking for – relaxation, adventure, or both – there’s something for everyone!
1. Chatham Lighthouse Beach
Chatham Lighthouse Beach is a stretch of sandy shoreline that’s home to tons of sea animals and a working lighthouse. While the ocean currents here aren’t ideal for swimming and water activities, it’s an excellent spot to appreciate nature and relax.
The long beach is perfect for a stroll, and you may even spot seals and sharks. And, if you can arrive early enough, the sunrise is breathtaking at Chatham Lighthouse Beach!
You can also visit an iconic Chatam attraction, the historical Chatham Lighthouse. This working lighthouse is 48 feet tall and is sometimes open for tours. Either way, it’s a beautiful site well worth checking out.
Shark signs sometimes discourage swimming, but this is one of the best Cape Cod beach locations for a long walk to soak in the beauty of the MA coastline.
While you won’t find many conveniences at the beach, Main St. is nearby, where you can find plenty of shops and restaurants.
2. Seagull Beach
Seagull Beach is located on the south side of the Cape, where the water is usually warmest. It’s a large beach, perfect for a day by the shore. Seagull is on Nantucket Sound, an offshore area of the Atlantic Ocean that’s gated overnight. So, be sure to check the hours before you go.
Although the beach can get busy during the summer, there’s plenty of space to spread out. Beachgoers enjoy hanging out with the seagulls, shelling, and swimming. There are also rocks that make for fun climbing for little ones or hanging out to enjoy a seaside picnic.
You can find several conveniences at Seagull Beach, including restrooms, a boardwalk, and a snack bar. It’s also wheelchair accessible. Nearby, you can find various hotels if you’re looking to spend the night.
3. Marconi Beach
Marconi Beach stands out from other Cape Cod Beaches because it’s a part of the national seashore, where you can find nature all around. It’s the ideal place to get away for a few hours and enjoy wildlife and peace. A 50-foot tall coast bluff backs the beach, which is accessed by a stairway.
When you arrive at the beach, you can enjoy swimming and surfing. You’ll probably even see seals playing at the beach, too.
If you’re looking to get active near Marconi Beach, we recommend checking out the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail. This moderate 1.5-mile hike and bike trail goes through a lush forest of red maples, white cedars, and oak trees. The trail is excellent for walking, biking, and bird watching.
Conveniences at Marconi Beach include restrooms and showers. There is also plenty to see and do nearby on Highway 6.
4. Coast Guard Beach
Also a part of the beautiful Cape Cod National Seashore, Coast Guard Beach in Eastham is one of the best beaches in Cape Cod for families. Be sure you enjoy Coast Guard Beach between Labor mid-June and Labor Day as it’s closed during the off-season to all visitors except for park staff and disabled beachgoers.
Coast Guard Beach is a simple, serene beach, where just about all you’ll find is ramps, restrooms, and nature. Most people enjoy coming here because it’s one of the most popular beaches in the area for swimming. Visitors also spend their time at Coast Guard Beach observing wildlife at the Nauset Marsh and watching for gray seals at Nauset Spit.
Fun fact: Coast Guard Beach was the first land Mayflower passengers saw in 1620.
5. Veterans Park Beach
Veterans Park Beach is a peaceful park and beach with so much to see and do. While you can enjoy various activities at Veterans Park, it’s a quiet spot that’s also perfect for relaxing.
On the beach, you can enjoy sunbathing, shelling, and building sandcastles. During peak season, there are also lifeguards on duty, and many visitors appreciate the gentle waves for safe swimming. You’ll also find beach volleyball and fishing boats going to and from the harbor.
The large park offers a break from the ocean, with a playground, grills, restrooms, and chair rentals. You can also find a spacious picnic area and a snack bar.
On both sides of the park, you can find garden memorial parks: the John F. Kennedy Memorial and the Korean War Memorial. It’s well worth checking these out for a bit of history, along with picturesque harbor views.
6. West Dennis Beach
West Dennis Beach boasts over a mile of stunning shoreline along Cape Cod Bay. Along with picturesque scenery, visitors enjoy the calm waters and watching seagulls fly over.
It’s also known as the best Cape Cod beach for windsurfing and kiting. You can also appreciate collecting seashells, playing volleyball, sunbathing, and swimming at West Dennis Beach. You can find lifeguards on duty during the peak season, too.
Amentities at West Dennis beach include restrooms, food stands, and a playground. It’s also one of the best handicapped accessible beaches on Cape Cod, with easy access to the beach, and beach chairs are also available.
If you’re looking to bring your furry beachgoer along, pets are welcome on West Dennis Beach from Labor Day to Memorial Day (during the off-season).
7. Mayflower Beach
Mayflower Beach sits between Nobscusset Point and Chapin Memorial Beach and offers some of the most unique adventures on Cape Cod Bay. It’s almost like 3 beaches in one as Mayflower Beach blends into Chapin Memorial Beach and Bayview Beach – great for exploring multiple spots. It’s also the ideal destination for a beach vacation, with many rentals nearby.
At low tide, you can walk for miles on the tidal flats for a special experience. Many photographers and sunset chasers love this! Mayflower Beach is also a great place to go swimming, with lifeguards on duty. Visitors also enjoy walking along the boardwalk, playing frisbee, and having lunch at the picnic tables.
Mayflower Beach is another beach on Cape Cod Bay that provides ramps for easier beach access.
8. Chapin Memorial Beach
Although it’s open to the public, Chapin Memorial Beach gives a private beach vibe. It’s features miles of undeveloped landscape and magical ocean views. It’s hard not to enjoy a day at Chapin Memorial Beach, with large sand dunes and tide pools at low tide and a 180-degree panorama.
While Chapin Memorial Beach isn’t the best spot for watersports, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy! Visitors can swim, sunbathe, play frisbee, and explore sand dunes. There’s a lifeguard on duty during the off-season. You can also find hiking and camping around the beach.
At the beach, you can’t find many amentities. However, there are plenty of places to eat nearby.
If you’re looking to check out another beach close to Chapin, it’s back up to the beautiful Mayflower Beach.
9. Sandy Neck Beach
Sandy Neck Beach Park is a historic beach that spans over 4,700 acres and boasts maritime marshes, forests, and massive sand dunes. It’s a unique destination to hang out on the beach and explore the trails surrounded by serene nature.
Visitors enjoy spending their time at Sandy Neck Beach swimming, fishing, and hiking. Leashed pets are also welcome at the beach. Stroll the beach to enjoy colorful rocks and seashells. There’s also a wooden boardwalk at Sandy Neck Beach Park, where you can take in the scenery.
Amentities at the beach and park include beach chair rentals, restrooms, a snack bar, and ramps for convenient access to the beach. There’s also a lifeguard on duty.
Self-contained vehicle campers are permitted for overnight guests, and off-road vehicles are allowed on Sandy Neck Beach. There are also various hotels and vacation rentals nearby.
10. South Cape Beach
South Cape Beach is situated within South Cape Beach State Park. It’s a beautiful sandy beach that faces Martha’s Vineyard on Nantucket Sound. A boardwalk provides easy access to the shore, and a beach wheelchair can be reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis for those who need it.
During the summer, beachgoers go to South Cape Beach to swim, canoe, kayak, and boat. Anglers enjoy fishing opportunities at the beach, too. Around the park, you can also find multiple hiking and walking trails that lead to the beach.
One of the best parts about South Cape Beach State Park is that it feels somewhat remote, but it’s also close to other attractions, including golf courses, a children’s museum, and other beaches.
For an exciting adventure, try taking the Dead Neck Trail to the small private section of the beach for a special, scenic view.
11. Grews Pond
Let’s change things up and check out this special freshwater beach. Grews Pond is a spring-fed kettle pond in Goodwill Park. Not only is the pond filled with bass, perch, sunfish, and trout, but it’s also an excellent beach for a day of fun with friends or family.
Naturally, Grews Pond is a great spot to go fishing, but that’s not all! You can watch for turtles, frogs, and other wildlife, too.
Visitors also enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and swimming. There are even lifeguards on duty.
If you’re looking to get active, various nature trails lead to the longer 9-mile Falmouth Moraine Trail, one of the longest trail networks in Cape Cod. It takes you on an adventure through wetlands, forests, and around other ponds.
12. Herring Cove Beach
Herring Cove Beach is a top-rated beach for those looking to escape to the calm waters away from the Atlantic side of the ocean. It’s the only Cape Cod National Seashore beach that’s on the Cape Bay side.
At Herring Cove Beach, you can enjoy gentle waters, white sand, and flocks of shorebirds. It’s also a fan-favorite spot to watch the sunset. During the peak season, from July through August, you can also watch evening concerts on the beach.
Amentities at Herring Cove Beach include lifeguard stands, beach wheelchairs, and a snack bar.
The Province Lands Bicycle Trail winds past Herring Cove Beach and leads to Race Point Beach and beyond the visitor center. The rail isn’t for the faint of heart, so keep that in mind before exploring.
13. Nauset Light Beach
Nauset Light Beach boasts high swells like other Outer Cape Cod beaches, but the waves are really some of the best here. You can also find a working historic lighthouse just a mile from the beach, and it’s open for tours.
Nauset Light Beach is an excellent destination for surfing and boogie boarding. Many beachgoers also enjoy sunbathing on the sandy beach and watching out for seals playing in the water. Pet owners enjoy bringing their dogs along, too.
Amentities at Nauset Beach include beach equipment rentals, bike racks, and lifeguards on duty. You can also find picnic tables, restrooms, and showers.
14. Newcomb Hollow Beach
Newcomb Hollow Beach is another popular Cape Cod beach. It’s surrounded by white sand dunes and a soft sandy shore. To access the beach, there’s a hilly dune to climb over to get to the shore. It takes a little work to get there, but it’s well worth it for a fun beach day with gorgeous views.
While the surf is more gentle than Outer Cape Cod beaches, the waves are worth playing in. Dogs are also welcome at Newcomb Hollow Beach, which attracts many visitors.
During low tide, the sandbar is perfect for splashing around in the water. Newcomb is typically a family and friend beach during the day and a hotspot for anglers after dark.
You can find a few amenities, including restrooms, in-season lifeguards, and food stands.
15. Monument Beach
Monument Beach is a sandy shore that sits between Bourne and Buzzards Bay. This pet-friendly beach is in a quiet neighborhood and offers a tranquil destination overlooking the Cape Cod Canal.
There’s plenty to enjoy at Monument Beach for a day of adventure. The beach is a great place to read a book, sunbathe, swim, and play volleyball. There’s a beautiful dock and boat ramp, too. There’s also a lifeguard on duty and beach wheelchairs available.
Around the beach, you can find concession stands, a picnic area, and a golf club. Fans of sailing and boating appreciate watching the watercraft enter and leave the privately owned Monument Beach Marina.
The Best Cape Cod Beaches FAQ
As you prepare to enjoy the best Cape Cod beaches, we’ve got answers to a few common questions!
What is the nicest beach on Cape Cod?
If we had to pick just one, we’d go with Marconi Beach. It’s beautiful, peaceful, surrounded by nature, and offers safe fun in the water. With that said, all the best Cape Cod beaches we shared above are amazing!
Can you drive on Cape Cod National Seashore?
Yes, you can drive on the north-end shore of Cape Cod. The specific drivable areas depend on conditions, so they vary. For up-to-date information on this, you can call the ORV hotline.
Many visitors avoid driving on these beaches because there are several requirements. It’s best for locals or those who visit regularly.
To drive on Cape Cod National Seashore beaches, you’re required to have a permit. You must also have a 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle that’s been inspected before obtaining the permit.
Are Cape Cod National Seashore beaches free?
No, there’s a fee to enjoy Cape Cod National Seashore beaches. Most visitors are happy to pay the National Park Service fee as the beaches are very well-kept and have amentities and other activities.
Rates vary depending on entry type: car, motorcycle, bicycle, or on foot. There are also some free and discounted rates. Learn more about beach fees here.
If you prefer a free beach, be sure to check out Grews Pond, where you can enjoy a day at the shore at no cost. Seagull Beach and Herring Cove Beach are also excellent options because their rate is lower than the national seashore beaches.
Are there rip currents at Cape Cod beaches?
While you can find rip currents at any beach, East facing beaches in Cape Cod are where you’ll find the roughest waters. We don’t recommend going too far out into these beaches, especially if you aren’t a very confident swimmer.
It’s always important to know how to spot rip currents at any beach you visit. Look out for an area of choppy water and a break in wave patterns. If you notice rough or unusual waters while you’re in the ocean, swim out of the current in a direction that follows the shoreline. Then, swim to shore when you’re out of the current. And, as always, swim with a friend!
Are sharks a danger at Cape Cod beaches?
While you should be aware that there are sharks at beaches in Cape Cod, they aren’t typically a danger. Great white sharks swim in the Atlantic, and there has been more and more shark activity over the years in this area.
You’ll find that some beaches in Cape Cod have shark warning signs. With that said, sharks have been known to swim in very deep Cape Cod waters. So, if you don’t go too far, you should be completely fine.
To learn more about shark attacks and how you can choose the best spots to go swimming and stay safe, check out this article.
What Cape Cod beaches are best for swimming?
Many beaches in Cape Cod are great for swimming! Our favorites are Seagull Beach, Coast Guard Beach, Veterans Park Beach, Mayflower Beach, Sandy Neck Beach, and Grews Pond. You can find gentle waters and lifeguards at these beaches.
Can you swim in Cape Cod Bay?
While Cape Cod Bay is known for prime fishing, you can also swim in the bay. West Dennis Beach and Mayflower Beach are both along the bay and offer great waters for swimming. There are also lifeguards on duty during the peak season.
Enjoy Cape Cod Beaches
Cape Cod offers some of the most amazing beaches in Massachusetts! We hope you’re inspired to enjoy the sunshine, surf, and sand at the best Cape Cod beaches.
Summers offer beautiful weather, warm waters, and many attractions to enjoy a day trip or vacation. Whether you’re looking to relax, experience water adventures, explore wildlife, or a mix of them all – you’re sure to find it at the best beaches in Cape Cod. Enjoy!