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complete guide to race point beach

Complete Guide to Race Point Beach Provincetown 🐳

Last Updated on: 19th April 2024, 01:52 pm

Follow Cape Cod all the way to the northernmost tip, and you’ll find Race Point Beach. This stunning stretch of sand is a perfect location to spot migrating whales offshore in the spring and boats dotting the water as fishermen ply their trade. Nestled among the dunes, The Old Harbor Life-Saving Station Museum provides visitors a glimpse of what daily life was like for the crew of the US Lifesaving Service, which gave rise to today’s Coast Guard. 

Race Point Beach is a popular destination all year round for locals and visitors alike who enjoy strolling along the shore, hiking over sand dunes and through untouched grassland, snapping photos of seals sunbathing on the sandbars off the coast, or heading out on a boat tour during the summer and fall to see the migrating whales up close. The 200-year-old Race Point Lighthouse is a historic landmark on the westernmost edge of the beach.  

Are you ready to sift your toes through the sand at one of the best beaches in Cape Cod? Our complete guide covers all the fun and interesting things to do and see at Race Point Beach, Provincetown, MA.  

Race Point Beach Overview

Race Point Beach Provincetown, located at the very tip of Cape Cod, is a 3-mile stretch of soft, golden sand, dunes, and grassland and is one of the largest beaches in Provincetown. AAA named it one of the five best beaches in New England in 2021. Because the beach faces north, it gets sun all day long, making it a great place for sun worshipers. A national park ranger station sits on a grass hill above the beach, and Provincetown Airport is adjacent to it. The beach is conveniently equipped with changing facilities, showers, and bathrooms. 

When it comes to Race Point Beach parking, you should plan on it being crowded in the summer months. The Race Point Beach parking fee is $25 per vehicle. The parking lot has about 280 spaces and is separated from the beach by a vast stretch of grassland. Race Point Beach is wide and somewhat steep compared to other Cape Cod beaches. The Race Point Lighthouse sits at the farthest point of Cape Cod. 

If you want to see it up close, take a scenic hike across the dunes. The beach is open all year. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer season, which starts in the third week of June and goes on until the first Monday in September. Provincetown has many great restaurants, and some are close to the beach.

History of Race Point Beach

Provincetown Race Point Beach is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and was named for the powerful rip tides that race off the tip of the Cape. Over the years, Race Point Beach has seen many shipwrecks. Strong currents, harsh nor’easter storms, and shallow sand bars several hundred yards off the beach are the main reasons why over 3,000 shipwrecks have been recorded off Cape Cod in the last 300 years. 

Between 1873 and 1902, a lifesaving station known as Race Point Station operated at the beach. Brave volunteers rescued shipwreck survivors and provided them with shelter and food. They had the motto, “You have to go, but you don’t have to come back.” They also earned the title, “Guardians of the Ocean Graveyard” for risking their lives to save others. Race Point Lighthouse was built in 1816 and is still active today.

Where Is Race Point Beach? | Race Point Beach Hours & Location

 

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Race Point Beach Provincetown, MA is located about 3 miles from downtown. To get to the beach, follow Route 6 from downtown Provincetown to Race Point Road, which passes by Provincetown Municipal Airport less than a half mile from the beach. 

The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority operates a Provincetown shuttle to Race Point Beach that travels from MacMillan Pier to Race Point Beach from Memorial Day weekend to the end of September. The cost is $3. Before you go, you can view the Race Point Beach webcam to see everything that’s happening in Provincetown!

Race Point Beach Fees

Race Point Beach requires that visitors pay a fee or have an annual pass from late June through Labor Day. From Labor Day until mid-September, a fee or annual pass is only required on weekends and holidays. At all other times, the beach is free. The annual pass is also good for all Cape Cod National Seashore beaches, which includes Coast Guard Beach and Nauset Light Beach in Eastham, Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, Head of the Meadow Beach in Truro, and Herring Cove in Provincetown. 

Race Point Beach Fees:

  • Standard Entrance Pass
  • Vehicle – $25 
  • Motorcycle – $20 
  • Per person (on foot or biking) – $15 
  • Active military, their dependents, and children 15 and younger – free
  • Annual Pass – $60 (permits access to any of the six Cape Cod National Seashore beaches for the pass holder and additional passengers in a non-commercial vehicle or pass holder plus three adults when entering on foot or bicycle)
  • US National Parks & Federal Lands Pass (good for all 6 Cape Cod National Seashore beaches and over 2,000 national parks around the country. Passes cover up to four adults in the pass holder’s car) 
  • Annual Interagency Pass – $80
  • Annual Senior Pass (age 62+) – $20
  • Lifetime Senior Pass (age 62+) – $80
  • Lifetime Access Pass (for disabled individuals) – FREE
  • Annual US Military Pass – FREE
  • Free Entrance Days
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • First Day of National Park Week
  • Juneteenth
  • The Great American Outdoors Act
  • National Public Lands Day
  • Veterans Day

Are Dogs Allowed in Race Point Beach?

Dogs are allowed on Race Point Beach except on land that is a protected bird habitat. The restricted area is marked with flags and poles.

Race Point Beach Activities

Race Point Beach offers much more than just swimming and sunbathing. Take walks on the soft sand with your friends, family, and even your dog. Enjoy the clear water and bird sanctuary. With a historic lighthouse, museums, whale-watching opportunities, and more, Race Point Beach offers a host of exciting things for you to do. 

Swimming

Of course, you can go swimming at Race Point Beach. The water is cool and refreshing in the summer months. You should always take precautions when swimming at the beach; however, because of the steep drop-off not far offshore and the strong undertow. Lifeguards are on duty in the summer months. There have also been reports of Race Point Beach sharks in the summer months in the last few years, but they always alert the public and shut down the beach if needed.

The Province Lands Seashore Visitors Center 

 

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The Race Point Beach Provincetown visitor center is open from May through October and includes a store, exhibits about local plants and animals, the Pilgrim’s landing in Provincetown, and more, as well as a theater and a bookstore. The 360-degree outdoor observation decks offer stunning views of the coast and whales during migration. The decks are open all year, weather permitting. 

Viewing Wildlife 

Adjacent to Race Point Beach is Hatches Harbor, a saltwater marsh habitat where you can see lots of wildlife, such as seagulls, hawks, and seals. 

Surf Casting

If you like to fish, surf casting is a popular activity at Race Point Beach. 

Whale Watching at Race Point Beach

One of the most popular and fascinating activities at Race Point Beach in spring and fall is whale watching. Boat tours from Provincetown offer a close-up encounter with the ocean’s most magnificent creatures as they migrate to and from their summer homes. Occasionally, you can even spot whales right from the beach. 

Race Point Lighthouse

Race Point Lighthouse is a 45-foot-tall historic lighthouse originally built in 1816 and replaced in 1876. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Race Point Beach treasure. From June to mid-October, the first and third Saturdays of the month are the best times to take a tour of the lighthouse, and you can even book an unforgettable overnight stay from May to October. It’s also a great location to view the beautiful sunset Race Point Beach offers each night!

Old Harbor Life-Saving Station Museum

The Old Harbor Life-Saving Station was built in 1897 at Nauset Beach and moved to Race Point Beach in 1977. Now a museum, the Old Harbor Life-Saving Station is furnished circa 1900 and offers a glimpse at those who dedicated their lives to saving others from the perils of the sea. The museum is free to visitors.

Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum

Less than 10 minutes away from Race Point Beach Cape Cod is the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum. The 252-foot-tall monument was built between 1907 and 1910 and commemorates the Mayflower landing in Provincetown in 1620. Climb the 116 steps to the top for spectacular views of Race Point Beach and the surrounding area. The Pilgrim Monument is the tallest all-granite structure in the United States. 

The Provincetown Museum features exhibits such as the arrival of the Mayflower Pilgrims, the maritime history of Provincetown, the early days of modern American theater in Provincetown, and the building of the Pilgrim Monument. Highlights include a recreation of a 19th-century sea captain’s quarters and a diorama of the Mayflower Compact being signed aboard the Mayflower in Provincetown Harbor. Also on display are a polar bear, musk ox, and Inuit artifacts at the museum from the Arctic explorations of Robert E. Peary. The museum is free, but donations are appreciated.

Campfires

Camping at Race Point Beach is allowed with valid permits. The site has in-depth rules about camping at Race Point Beach. A campfire is allowed on the beach at night with a valid permit. You can get a permit three days in advance at the Province Lands Visitor Center or by phone. Permits are limited and given out on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Race Point Beach has plenty to offer, and it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the best beaches in New England. Now that you know all about what to see and do, it’s time to come spend a day at beautiful Race Point Beach! 

If you’re looking at fun attractions in Cape Cod because you’re moving there, the friendly team at Vanguard Moving is here to help! Give our top-rated Cape Cod movers a call at 508-790-9188 for a free quote!

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