You are welcome to borrow beach chairs and towels when you head to any of the numerous Cape Cod beaches – either saltwater or freshwater. How to choose? We grew up here, have enjoyed many of the different beaches, and once you tell us what you enjoy we can point you in the right direction.
And yes, we will do our best to explain how paying to beach park works in each town, along with a few tips. Even in the middle of the Summer there are free parking beaches AND other free ways to enjoy different beaches. There is also off-season & off-hour free beach parking.
Many Great White Sharks do visit our area. So, be shark smart. Never swim when seals are in the water. Stay in shallow water and around other people. Follow the warning signs and directions of the lifeguards. Download the Shark Activity tracker app. And keep your camera available, you may have an opportunity to capture a picture of a Great White Shark.
Nantucket Sound is the Southern body of water between Cape Cod and the Islands and is full of natural beauty and wildlife. The Sound offers quiet warm-water beaches with fine white sand. On a clear day off in the distance, you may see Monomoy Island. Many of the beaches on Nantucket Sound have restrooms. Most of the beautiful Harwich beaches and many in Chatham and Dennis are on the Sound. The upsides for some people are: quiet warm water, parking near the beach, many with bathrooms, some with lifeguards, some with beach walking opportunity. The downside for some people: parking can be right on the beach, can be more developed than other beaches, “Private Property” signs.
Our favorite Nantucket Sound Beaches:
- Red River Beach, in Harwich, offers a long parking lot along a long beach, with seasonal parking attendant, bathrooms & a hot dog stand. The East end of the beach & parking ends at the inlet to Red River; to the West, you can walk past homes to the inlet to Saquatucket Harbor.
- Earle Road Beach, in Harwich, offers parking, seasonal restrooms, lifeguard & parking attendant. This beach offers a nice walk past homes to the inlet of Allen Harbor.
- Hardings Beach, in Chatham, offers two large parking lots along the beach. There are seasonal bathrooms, lifeguards & parking attendants. This beach offers a beautiful undeveloped beach walk to the inlet of Stage Harbor & Oyster River where it’s very likely you will see seals floating in the water.
- Ridgevale Beach, in Chatham, has a small parking area with a seasonal attendant. A bridge over a lazy tidal river brings you to the beach. The river is wonderful for slowly floating in or out with the tide.
- West Dennis Beach, in Dennis, is over a mile long strip of beach with an equal length parking lot. The West side of the beach ends at the entrance to Bass River. Behind the parking lot is a tidal marsh. The location offers seasonal parking attendants, restrooms & lifeguards.
Cape Cod Bay
Cape Cod Bay is the body of water on the Northern coast of Cape Cod. The Bay is known for the dramatic low tides, up to one mile of white sandbars and warm tidal pools. The best towns for seeing low tide on the Bay are Brewster or Orleans. Swimming is enjoyable in any town on the Bay, and high tide can provide wonderfully clear, calm & warm water. Check the tide before you go. The upsides for some people: can be very warm water, you can watch the tide move in and out, great beach walking & tide pooling at low tide, changing scenery with moving tides. The downside for some people: the water can be very warm, at low tide you must walk far to swim, some small beach parking lots.
Our favorite Cape Cod Bay Beaches:
- Mayflower Beach, in Dennis, is a popular beach with seasonal parking attendants, bathrooms & lifeguards.
- All Brewster beaches are wonderful, small & quaint with small parking areas.
Brewster beach parking permits are required from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. between June 15 and September 1st, 2019. You can only purchase parking permits from the Town or Chamber of
- Skaket Beach in Orleans has a good-sized parking area with a seasonal attendant, restrooms & snack shack.
Paid beach parking in Orleans starts weekends on Memorial Weekend and daily on June 15. Paid beach parking ends Labor Day and daily at 4:30 m. A daily paid beach parking pass allows access to Skaket & Nauset Beach (See Seashore Beaches below).
Cape Cod National Seashore
Cape Cod National Seashore is incredibly popular and offers six majestic beaches (Coast Guard, Nauset Light, Marconi, Herring Cove, Race Point & Head of the Meadow). Any other beach located within the Seashore is regulated by the town of location. All beaches are on the open Atlantic Ocean. Each one gives you a sense of an infinite beach and, depending on which you choose, are backed by sand dunes or tall cliffs. There are very few houses, buildings, businesses or roads to be seen once you are on the beach. If you are willing to walk, you can almost always find your own piece of paradise, with very few people, at any Seashore beach.
The upsides for some people: Majestic open Atlantic Ocean beauty, lifeguards, you can walk for miles, cold refreshing water, possibility of surf, seals, possibility of a shark sighting, bathrooms with showers. The downside for some people: parking can at times fill up fast, parking cost, the distance from parking to the beach, the cold water, sharks, seals. We don’t have a favorite Seashore beach, we appreciate and enjoy each one of them.
National Seashore paid beach parking is when lifeguards are on duty, from Late June through early September & on weekends from Memorial Day. All other times beach parking is free.
- Nauset Beach, located in, & run by, the town of Orleans, offers a large attendant-run parking area with restrooms with showers and a variety of food trucks. The daily parking fee paid to Orleans allows same-day entrance to Skaket Beach (see above Cape Cod Bay beaches)
- Coast Guard Beach, located in Eastham, had its parking lot washed away during a storm years ago, so parking is about one mile from the beach, but shuttles are provided. Bathrooms & showers are provided at the beach.
- Marconi Beach, in Wellfleet, has a massive parking area, restrooms with showers and a long staircase to the
With more than 1,000 ponds, the Cape offers many freshwater swimming opportunities. Many beaches on ponds are shaded by trees, and some offer picnic tables. Every town on the Cape has freshwater ponds.
- Long Pond, in Harwich, offers a good-sized dirt parking lot with a seasonal attendant, bathrooms & lifeguard. The Pond is large and allows small water crafts and is great for canoeing, paddle boarding and swimming.
- Nickerson State Park, in Brewster offers several ponds for swimming, boating, fishing, relaxing and/or picnicking. A small daily parking fee is required.