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21 Best Cape Cod Beaches – [2022] 🏄‍♂️ Ultimate Guide to Beaches in Cape Cod

There are more than 130 Cape Cod, Massachusetts beaches across almost 560 miles of beautiful coastline on five bodies of water. Whether you’re moving to Cape Cod or just visiting, it’s hard to know where to start!

This guide to Cape Cod beaches won’t cover them all, but we’ll explore the best beaches in Cape Cod for swimming, dogs, surfing, boat watching, and more. To make it easy to find a beautiful Cape Cod beach near you, we’ll organize the list by town/village.

Table of Contents

Tips for Exploring Cape Cod MA Beaches

As you begin exploring the best beaches in Cape Cod, it helps to keep a few things in mind to narrow your focus.

  • Some beaches have residents-only parking so visitors must walk into the beach area.
  • The best Cape Cod beaches often have parking fees and restrictions between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
  • The southern Nantucket Sound beaches are the warmest beaches on Cape Cod.
  • Water temperatures in Cape Cod Bay vary by day. Temperatures are often in the low 60s in early July but hit the 70s on some days in August.
  • The outer Cape along the Atlantic Ocean has the coldest water temperatures but the best waves for surfing. Water temperatures are often in the 50s.
  • Beaches around Monomoy Island, particularly Lighthouse Beach in Chatham, are good for seal watching but this is where sharks may be spotted due to the seals. Follow shark safety tips!
  • Cape Cod tide charts can help you better plan your visit to the beach.
  • Look for a flag of a white shark on a purple background to indicate a lifeguard is on duty.
  • Policies regarding Cape Cod beaches & dogs vary by town, beach, and season. Check carefully if your pet is allowed during the current season and if there are any restrictions. You can see the Cape Cod National Seashore dog policy here.

Make sure you check the FAQs section at the end to get answers to common questions about private vs public beaches, fees, and more.

 

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Cape Cod National Seashore Beaches

The Cape Cod National Seashore is Cape Cod’s most beloved stretch of shoreline. This 40-mile stretch of beach includes lighthouses, wild cranberry bogs, marshes, dunes, and cultural attractions to explore. The CCNS covers the eastern shore of Cape Cod on the outer cape facing the Atlantic Ocean in the towns of Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Provincetown, and Truro.

Because the Cape Cod National Seashore is a national park and administered by the National Park Service, there are separate rules that apply to CCNS beaches. Town beach stickers don’t cover admission to these beaches.

Here’s a brief overview of the Cape Cod National Seashore beaches by town and what you need to know about visiting. You can learn more about the best beaches in each town’s section.

Provincetown

The Provincetown stretch of the Cape Cod National Seashore is home to Race Point Beach, widely considered one of the best Cape Cod beaches for whale watching. You’ll also find the historic Race Point Lighthouse and Herring Cove Beach at the tip of the Cape, a great spot for watching the sunset.

Wellfleet

Wellfleet’s Marconi Beach is one of the most visited National Seashore beaches and often packed during the summer. Be sure to check out the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary too with miles of trails that overlook Wellfleet Harbor.

Truro

This section of the CCNS is home to Highland Light, the oldest lighthouse on Cape Cod. Meadow Beach is a fun destination if you want to beat the crowds.

Orleans

Rock Harbor in Orleans is home to the restored CG-36500 Coast Guard boat used to rescue the SS Pendleton.

Chatham

The Chatham Light lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses on the East Coast and one of the main tourist attractions on the Cape Cod National Seacoast. You can also visit the Chatham Fish Pier and the Atwood House Museum.

Eastham

Eastham is home to Coast Guard Beach, arguably one of the best beaches in Massachusetts. Popular with surfers, it also features a cute boardwalk. You’ll also find the Eastham Windmill here and Nauset Light Beach with the Three Sisters Lighthouses.

Cape Cod National Seashore FAQ

Are Cape Cod National Seashore beaches free?

There are five days per year with no entrance fees at national parks. You can visit the Cape Cod National Seashore for free on Veterans Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the first day of National Park Week, National Public Lands Day, and the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act. You can also visit for free with an America the Beautiful national park pass.

Can I use a national park pass at Cape Cod National Seashore?

Yes, the national park pass or America the Beautiful pass can be used at Cape Cod National Seashore.

How much is a Cape Cod National Seashore pass?

The Cape Cod National Seashore daily entrance fee is $25 for a vehicle or $15 on foot. A Cape Cod National Seashore annual pass is $60. An America the Beautiful pass is available that includes an annual seashore pass and all other national parks. The pass is $80, $20/year or $80/lifetime for seniors, and free for people with a permanent disability and military members and veterans.

Barnstable Beach – Sandy Neck Beach

Sandy Neck Beach is one of the most famous and best beaches on Cape Cod known for its tide pools, boardwalk, sand dunes, and colorful rocks and shells. This barrier beach covers 4,700 acres with marshes, dunes, and maritime forests to explore! Note that the beach itself is in Barnstable, MA but the access road is in the town of Sandwich.

Sandy Neck Beach offers not only sandy ocean shoreline but inland forests and dune overlooks to explore. Use the trails to explore Barnstable Harbor and the Great Marsh as well as the Sandy Neck Lighthouse!

Sandwich and Barnstable residents can use their resident town beach stickers for parking, but non-residents pay $15 for a day pass at the Sandy Neck gatehouse.

Centerville Beach – Craigville Beach

Craigville Beach, Cape Cod is one of the most popular Nantucket Sound beaches, especially for families. It’s one of the warmest beaches on Cape Cod with the water temperature often reaching the mid-70s during the peak season as warm Gulf Stream waters run up along the south of the Cape.

Along with warm waters, Craigville Beach boasts a wide stretch of sandy shoreline without a lot of rocks. It’s ideal for swimming, kayaking, and sunbathing.

Craigville Beach is a favorite among families, teenagers, and college students with a large beach area and plenty of parking. It also has bathrooms and showers, amenities you won’t find at all beaches on Cape Cod!

Sandwich Beach – Town Neck Beach

Considered one of the best Cape Cod Bay beaches, Town Neck Beach in the Town of Sandwich, MA, the oldest Cape Cod town. It runs along the famous Sandwich Boardwalk. Popular with families, it’s one of the top Cape Cod public beaches for kayaking, swimming, and boat watching. Kids love watching the boats at the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal, jumping off the bridge at high tide, and catching crabs.

Sandwich has three freshwater and five saltwater beaches. The freshwater beaches are resident-only but saltwater beaches in Sandwich, including Town Neck Beach, are open to the public. You can buy beach stickers at the beach gatehouse or click here to buy Sandwich beach tickets online. The daily rate is $20 or $50 for a weekly pass.

Wellfleet Beaches

Wellfleet is one of the top destinations for beach-goers on Cape Cod. There are several beaches in Wellfleet on the Atlantic and Wellfleet Harbor. One of the best Cape Cod beaches for surfing in Wellfleet is White Crest, one of six Atlantic beaches in the town. Wellfleet Harbor offers calmer, warmer water ideal for swimming, collecting seashells, and sunbathing.

You’ll also find several great Cape Cod dog friendly beaches in Wellfleet including Cahoon Hollow, White Crest, Newcomb Hollow, and LeCount Hollow. Dogs are also allowed at Marconi Beach which is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Most of the beaches in Wellfleet, MA are ideal for fishing and water skiing, but note that some activities are prohibited. Surfing is only allowed at the guarded section of White Crest beach during the summer and prohibited at Cahoon Hollow and Newcomb Hollow during the summer. Hang gliding and paragliding are not allowed during the summer, and personal watercraft are not allowed on town-owned beaches and Wellfleet beach parking lots.

You’ll need a Wellfleet beach sticker for all town-owned beaches. You can buy Wellfleet beach stickers online starting April 11, 2022.

Cahoon Hollow Beach – Popular Cape Cod Dog Friendly Beach

The beautiful Cahoon Hollow is one of the best beaches in Wellfleet on the Atlantic with a challenging surf, cold waters, and steep dunes. Cahoon Hollow has a lifeguard on duty during the summer with restrooms and food available at the Beachcomber bar and restaurant. This beach often becomes a party spot during the summer thanks to the bar and somewhat isolated location.

 

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You’ll need a town sticker ($60/three days) or a $20 daily fee to park at the town lot. The Beachcomber owns the other Cahoon Hollow lot which costs $20 for parking but gives you a voucher to use at the restaurant.

White Crest Beach – Top Cape Cod Beach for Surfing & Hang-Gliding

The most popular beaches in Wellfleet are on the Atlantic, and White Crest is the only one that allows surfing along the guarded portion. This huge beach offers challenging surf conditions and great views, and it’s one of the quietest beaches in the area and never crowded. White Crest is the only Wellfleet beach that allows hang-gliding.

From White Crest, you can walk north to Cahoon Hollow and further on to Provincetown or south to LeCount Hollow then Eastham.

Marconi Beach – One of the Top Cape Cod National Seashore Beaches

Marconi is one of the most scenic and famous beaches on Cape Cod. This Atlantic-facing beach offers a large parking area and a long walk down stairs to the beach. It’s part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and known for its iconic sand dunes, seals, and consistent waves with great surfing outside the lifeguard-protected swimming area. Be prepared for large crowds during the summer!

Brewster Beaches

Brewster, MA is a small town on Cape Cod Bay. This famously quaint, picturesque town is home to many historic inns, small restaurants, and quiet shoreline to explore. Here are the best beaches in Brewster, MA.

Breakwater Beach – One of the Best Public Beaches on Cape Cod for Tide Pools

One of the top beaches in Cape Cod for families, Breakwater Beach is famous for its tide pools. At high tide, there’s still a good amount of beach to enjoy, but low tide leaves a large, flat area with tide pools to explore for seashells and sea creatures. Families love the large sprawl of clean sand that makes it easy to keep an eye on young kids.

 

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Mant’s Landing – Quiet, Peaceful Beach in Brewster

Want to get away from the crowds for quiet contemplation or relaxing family time? Visit Mant’s Landing or Robbins Hill Beach. There’s a decent amount of parking with beautiful sunset views and a laid-back vibe without big crowds. You can even rent kayaks at the beach and explore the calm Cape Cod Bay waters.

Eastham Beaches

The small town of Eastham, MA is located on the lower Cape next to Wellfleet and Orleans along Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Eastham beaches in Cape Cod include Atlantic-facing and bay-facing beaches.

One-week Eastham beach stickers are $120 for visitors. Note that Eastham stickers can only be used for parking at Eastham beaches, not Coast Guard Beach or Nauset Light Beach below.

Coast Guard Beach – One of the Best Beaches in America & Tops Cape Cod Best Beaches Lists

Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod is frequently ranked among the best beaches in the United States and certainly one of the top Cape Cod beaches. It’s the southernmost beach of the Cape Cod National Seashore with breathtaking views, but be aware that waves get large and swimming here can be dangerous.

Coast Guard Beach is one of the top Outer Cape beaches for views, surfing, boogie boarding, and volleyball. Explore the former Coast Guard Station during your visit!

Nauset Light Beach – Popular Lighthouse Beach on Cape Cod

Eastham’s Nauset Light Beach, not to be confused with the more well-known Nauset Beach in Orleans, is a scenic destination and part of the National Coastline. Parking can be challenging to find and usually fills up by 10 am, but there’s plenty to do. Take a tour of the historic Nauset Light and enjoy amenities like lifeguard protection, showers, changing rooms, and restrooms.

Chatham MA Beach – Chatham Lighthouse Beach

The coastal town of Chatham, Massachusetts is located on the southeastern tip of the Cape on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s best known for its picturesque Chatham, MA beaches and one of the most famous Cape Cod lighthouses.

The most iconic Chatham, Cape Cod beach is Chatham Lighthouse Beach. Located next to the lighthouse, Chatham Light, this very long beach is perfect for long walks and dipping your feet in the calm water. It rarely gets crowds because parking is limited to 30 minutes and in short supply. However, it’s less than a mile from downtown Chatham, perfect for walking down to the shore for a walk or a swim.

Conditions are usually great for swimming, but be aware Lighthouse Beach has no lifeguards. Check the colored flags at the shore. A red flag means it’s not safe for swimming.

Hyannis Beaches

Hyannis, MA is the largest village in the Town of Barnstable. It’s famous for the Kennedy Complex and sprawling Hyannis, MA beaches popular with families.

Veterans Park Beach – One of the Best Cape Cod Public Beaches for Picnics & Boat Watching

Veterans Park Beach is a popular, small Hyannis Port beach ideal for family picnics. Enjoy a shaded picnic grove, play areas with swings, and volleyball. There are plenty of amenities including barbecue grills, benches, a snack shack, restrooms, a bathhouse, and lifeguards.

Because it’s close to the Hyannis Yacht Club and Hyannis Harbor, it’s great for boat watching. It’s right next to the Kennedy Complex and overlooks Lewis Bay where President John F. Kennedy often sailed.

Kalmus Beach – Sandy Hyannis Beach for Windsurfing & Seashell Hunting

The best beach in Hyannis for families with younger kids, Kalmus Beach is located in Hyannis Harbor right on Nantucket Sound. It’s ideal for windsurfing with a dedicated windsurfing area. The other section of the beach is popular with families and kids. Kalmus Beach offers plenty of parking with volleyball, a snack bar, a picnic area, showers, and lifeguards.

Non-residents pay a $15/day fee for parking at Hyannis, MA beaches or $50/week.

Provincetown Beaches

Provincetown is a seaside town on the extreme northern tip of the Cape and it’s here that the Mayflower landed in 1620. Known for its art scene and culture, it also offers some of the best beaches on Cape Cod! Learn more about Provincetown beaches and parking with maps from the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce.

Race Point Beach – Vast and Scenic National Seashore Beach Named One of the Best Beaches in New England

Race Point Beach is one of the most famous Massachusetts beaches and the most iconic of beaches in Provincetown, Cape Cod. This vast beach at the tip of the Cape offers scenic views of the Old Harbor Lifesaving Station and former Coast Guard station. AAA named Race Point Beach as one of the top 5 beaches in New England – the only Massachusetts or Cape Cod beach to make the list!

Race Point is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and connects to the Province Lands Bike Trail and it’s close to Herring Cove. You’ll often spot whales and seals in the distance!

 

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Herring Cove Beach – Best Beach in Provincetown for Sunsets

One of the most picturesque Provincetown, MA beaches, Herring Cove offers ample parking, showers and restrooms, less aggressive surf than Atlantic-facing shores, and famous sunset views. It also connects to Race Point Beach via the Province Lands Bike Trail.

Falmouth Beaches

Falmouth, MA beaches are world-famous and make this town one of the most visited resort towns on the Cape. After Barnstable, it’s the second largest of cities and towns on Cape Cod. There are ten beaches in Falmouth, MA to explore with 68 miles of coastline, white sand beaches, and clear waters.

Falmouth Heights – One of the Best Nantucket Sound Beaches Across from Martha’s Vineyard

The most famous of beaches in Falmouth is Falmouth Heights on Nantucket Sound. Relax on the benches overlooking the shore, Martha’s Vineyard, and the Vineyard Sound. Stop at the restaurant and concessions stand across the street and enjoy long, scenic walks. Just note that parking is very limited for non-residents!

Old Silver Beach – Popular Public Beach in Falmouth with Warm Waters

Find Old Silver Beach on Buzzards Bay. There are sections for residents and non-residents with separate parking. This is one of the best Falmouth beaches for warm waters and swimming, but beware of the strong currents at high tide!

Chapoquoit Beach – One of the Top Beaches in Cape Cod for Exploring Tide Pools

Located in West Falmouth, Chapoquoit Beach or “Chappy” is a Cape Cod beach with white sand and shallow waters. At low tide, explore the sand bar and tide pools with the kids, build sand castles, and enjoy a dip in the water.

 

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Dennis MA Beaches

Dennis, MA is a mid-Cape town home to some of the most popular Cape Cod beaches for families. There are 16 Dennis, MA beaches on the ocean and two freshwater beaches. Eight beaches are on Cape Cod Bay and eight are Nantucket Sound beaches.

Mayflower Beach – Popular Cape Cod Bay Beach with a Boardwalk

Mayflower Beach, Cape Cod is one of the most pristine beaches on the mid-Cape. Located on Cape Cod Bay in Dennis, MA, it’s one of the best places to watch the sunset, play frisbee, and take a long stroll.

Mayflower Beach offers lifeguards on duty and public restrooms with $20 daily parking on weekdays or $25 on weekends.

West Dennis Beach – One of the Best Cape Cod Beaches for Families

The West Dennis Beach is a south-facing beach on the Bass River is a beautiful, sandy beach popular with families thanks to its smooth, calm waves, soft sands, a playground, and a snack bar. You’ll enjoy warm water, a kite flying area, and plenty of parking with restrooms, showers, and ten lifeguard stations.

Orleans Beach – Nauset Beach

Nauset Beach is one of the most visited Outer Cape beaches with excellent surfing, bodyboarding, swimming, and fishing. The highest waves on Cape Cod are usually found here! Stretching ten miles to Chatham Harbor, Nauset Beach is always packed during the summer, but it has lifeguards on duty with clean restrooms, showers, and a snack bar.

Note that surfing is only allowed along the non-protected shore from 9 am to 6 pm. Off-roading is allowed with a permit. You can catch bluefish and striped bass from Nauset Beach. Dogs are not allowed at Nauset Beach during the summer starting April 1.

Nauset Beach non-resident parking is $30 per day, $125 for a weekly sticker, or $300 for a seasonal sticker. You can buy a seasonal Orleans beach sticker online.

Cape Cod Beaches Map

Check out this map of Cape Cod beaches to find the best shoreline spots to explore near you. The orange stars are a helpful map of Cape Cod National Shoreline beaches!

Cape Cod Beaches FAQs

How many beaches on Cape Cod are there?

There are more than 120 Cape Cod beaches along 560 miles of coastline. This includes 6 beaches that are part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Are Cape Cod beaches open to the public?

Most beaches on Cape Cod are publicly owned and open to the public. There are some Cape Cod beaches open only to residents. Mashpee town beaches, for example, are resident-only. However, while public beaches may be open to anyone, many do restrict beach parking to residents only.

Are Cape Cod beaches free?

Most town-owned beaches on Cape Cod are free with no entrance fee. However, parking in a town-owned parking lot does require a beach sticker or fee.

Are there any free beaches in Cape Cod?

There are a handful of Cape Cod beaches with free beach parking including Bayview Beach (West Yarmouth), Oyster Pond Beach (Chatham), Jackknife Cove (North Chatham), and Mayo Beach (Wellfleet).

Can you swim at Cape Cod beaches?

Many beaches on Cape Cod allow swimming. The warmest beaches on Cape Cod are on the bay side. Atlantic-facing beaches tend to be much colder. Some Atlantic Cape Cod beaches have swimming, but it depends on the beach, daily water temperatures, surf conditions, and the potential for sharks.

What beaches are part of Cape Cod National Seashore?

There are six Cape Cod National Seashore beaches:

  • Meadow Beach
  • Coast Guard Beach
  • Nauset Light Beach
  • Race Point Beach
  • Herring Cove Beach
  • Marconi Beach

Which Cape Cod beaches allow dogs?

This question isn’t easy to answer as some dog friendly beaches on Cape Cod only allow dogs during certain hours or the off-season while others allow dogs during the summer. Most Cape Cod town-owned beaches do not allow dogs during the summer. National Seashore beaches always allow leashed dogs parkwide except on lifeguard-protected beaches during the summer and in certain areas during shorebird migration and nesting periods.

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