Massachusetts is blessed with a wealth of amazing beaches. Some are well-developed and full of convenient amenities, while others are remote and full of fascinating wildlife. Many of the beaches in Massachusetts are seasonal: facilities may be closed between May and September, and sometimes the beaches themselves are off-limits. Parking fees may be charged to non-residents (typically around $20) and some beaches charge for entry. That said, it’s well worth the extra cost to enjoy these amazing coastal spots. If you want to bring pets, come during the off-season as they are banned from most beaches in the summer.
Cisco Beach, Nantucket
Cisco beach is one of the best surf beaches in the state. It’s great for both novice and experienced surfers, as well as the stronger swimmers in the family. Smaller children might struggle with the rough waves but will love playing in the soft sand. There’s an extensive bike path and the area is a great place to hike or just stroll. There are no real amenities here but lifeguards are on duty.
Coast Guard Beach, Eastham
Coast Guard Beach offers great swimming and wonderful scenery. This area is famous for the many seabirds that visit or make their homes here. The beach itself consists of a long stretch of sand with picturesque dunes behind it. There are also extensive salt flats that are a magnet for bird watchers. During the high season, there is no visitor parking nearby, except for visitors with disabilities. Instead, a convenient shuttle bus picks up visitors from the Little Creek parking area. There are seasonal amenities, including restrooms and a wheelchair ramp. There are no food outlets so pack a cooler for your day at the beach. Lifeguards patrol during the summer.
Craigville Beach, Barnstable
Craigville Beach is large, sandy, and fun to explore. It’s very popular with local teens and college students but attracts family groups too. The sea can get a little rough here but on calmer days it’s great for swimming and paddling. Swimming lessons are on offer during the summer season. The beach has restrooms and showers. You only have to cross the street to find restaurants and cafes for a bite. There are lifeguards.
Crane Beach, Ipswich
Crane Beach is a noted conservation area. The beach is a sandy stretch that extends for four miles along the coast, backed by sand dunes and a maritime pitch-pine forest. The nearby salt marsh is home to many wild bird species and is the ideal spot for bird-watching. There are refreshments, restrooms, and a modern bathhouse. Guided hiking tours are available, and there are paddling trips that younger children will love. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer.
Duxbury Beach, Duxbury
Duxbury Beach is a beautiful scenic spot. The oceanside section of the beach has stronger waves and makes for more exciting swimming, while the calmer bayside section is great for families with young children and less confident swimmers. The beach is home to many endangered birds and animals, meaning that certain areas may be off-limits at times. There are restrooms and refreshments available. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months.
Joseph Sylvia State Beach, Oak Bluffs
A lovely beach for families, Joseph Sylvia State Beach has sandy shores and gentle waves that are perfect for little ones to splash in. There are extensive sand dunes behind the beach which are great for hiking. The wildlife here is diverse, with many bird species to spot. If you want to enjoy some ocean sports, equipment rentals are available. Kayaking is a popular activity, as is surfing. If you arrive during the winter months, you can often see whales and monk seals off the coast. Note that there are no restrooms available, although you can buy snacks and drinks. There are no lifeguards or restrooms.
Lucy Vincent Beach, Chilmark
Lucy Vincent Beach is bordered by imposing clay cliffs, creating a secluded feeling. There are striking geological formations and soft sand to play on. It’s a remote and lovely spot that is popular with hikers, bird-watchers, and swimmers alike. The nearest public restrooms and food outlets are a ten-minute drive away. The otherworldly beauty of Lucy Vincent Beach is best enjoyed early in the season; between June 1st and Labor Day, you’ll need to buy a beach pass. There are no lifeguards.
Marconi Beach, South Wellfleet
Marconi Beach takes its name from the inventor of the radio, who sent the first transatlantic radio broadcast from the nearby Marconi Station. Be aware that access is via a flight of steps. The sandy beach has an extensive boardwalk for oceanside strolls, while fairly gentle waves make for excellent swimming conditions. When the waves are higher, surfing is popular. The nearby salt marsh repays investigation — it’s beautiful and packed with birdlife. You can hike, bike, and explore the area’s natural beauty, or visit one of the local historic attractions. Marconi Beach has restrooms and showers but no concessions. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer.
Mayflower Beach, Cape Cod Bay
Mayflower Beach is hugely popular, thanks to its soft sand, calm waves, and natural beauty. The sea is inviting at high tide, while at low tide you’ll find rock pools that children will love to investigate. Stroll along the boardwalk or hike out onto the tidal flats when the tide’s out. The beach has plenty of amenities, including restrooms, picnic spots, and refreshments. Families with mobility-impaired members will appreciate the wheelchairs that are on offer, including beach wheelchairs and one sea wheelchair.
Mayo Beach, Wellfleet
One of the few Massachusetts beaches with free parking, Mayo Beach has calmer and warmer waters than other beaches in the region. At high tide, gentle waves lap against the soft sand. At low tide, the tidal flats are perfect for a stroll. The beach has dunes with lots of maritime grass — ideal for games of hide-and-seek. There’s a jetty with glorious views of the surrounding area, where you can watch the boats come and go. Mayo beach also has shellfish, which you can harvest if you have a permit. Note that access to the beach is restricted during the summer vacation season; only residents and visitors with accommodation nearby are allowed on the beach at these times. Lifeguards are on patrol during the summer.
Nauset Beach, East Orleans
With 10 miles of enticing sand and exhilarating surf, Nauset Beach is great for active families with older children and teens. This beach is hugely popular with surfers, body-boarders, and other fans of ocean sports. If you can get here early, you’ll appreciate the magnificent sunrises. The beach has restrooms, showers, and refreshments on offer. Lifeguards patrol the shore during the summer.
Old Silver Beach, North Falmouth
Old Silver Beach is noted for its wildlife and its natural beauty. It’s a wonderful spot for swimmers of all levels. A great place for a stroll, there are lots of exciting finds for beachcombers here. Fishing is a popular activity, as is catching crabs. The snack shack sells surprisingly varied and tasty food, and there are showers a well as restrooms. Lifeguards are on duty in the summer.
Race Point Beach, Provincetown
Race Point Beach is a beautiful location. Undulating dunes give way to a sandy beach with invigorating waves. There’s a protected area for swimmers. Surfing is permitted outside of the protected area and is a popular activity here. Walking, hiking and running are also popular, thanks to the well-developed trails and beautiful surroundings. There are restrooms here but no showers and no food outlets — bring a cooler or eat in town. Note that the rougher waves might make the ocean a bit challenging for small children. Lifeguards patrol the beach in the summer.
This historic beach offers three miles of sand and fairly gentle waves. It’s a hugely popular beach, not least because of the many activities on offer. In particular, Revere Beach hosts an annual sand sculpture competition every summer. In the fall, there’s an art fair and the Halloween Pumpkin Dash. Despite all the activity, this is also a great place to see birds and wildlife. There are plenty of amenities, including multiple snack bars and concessions, a first aid station, restrooms, and changing rooms for swimmers. Beach wheelchairs are available and lifeguards are on patrol during the summer. Parking is free but fills up quickly.
Singing Beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea
Singing Beach gets its name from the mysterious sounds produced when you walk across the dry sand. It’s a spectacularly beautiful spot and is carefully protected. The best way to experience this beach is to take accommodation nearby or to cycle there. Parking can be tricky, with steep fees and no non-resident parking during the high season. During the summer vacation season, you will need a permit for the beach. There are concessions, a bathhouse, and restrooms. The beach is staffed with monitors and lifeguards during the summer.