On Cape Cod, with nearly 560 miles of coastline, it’s easy to find a secluded spot along the shore in which to stretch out, lay back, and let the warm sand and soothing sounds of waves lapping the shore wash over you. But which beaches are best? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. A 3-5 minute car or bike ride will get you Smugglers Beach near our Inn, but further afield you’ll find plenty of sand and surf to explore. Here are the top 10 Cape Cod beaches.
“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.”
– Robert Wyland
Bay Side Beaches
On the bay side you’ll find long stretches of sandy beaches backed by rolling dunes, where ORVs comingle with sunbathers, beach walkers, and people casting for stripers. When the tide retreats, exposing tide pools and rivulets hiding hermit crabs, children splash with abandon delighting in the sun-warmed shallow pools left behind. The water temperature on the bay side is generally cooler and the wave action is considerably calmer.
Across the island on the Nantucket Sound side of Cape Cod, body surfers and boogey boards lay in wait for the next roller to crash ashore. Further east, the beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore stretch for miles towards the tip of Cape Cod at Long Point. Massive sand hills shelter dune shacks built with flotsam and jetsam that washed ashore from ships that wrecked off the coast. And curling around towards Provincetown, Herring Cove is often the spot to catch whales frolicking in the ocean.
On any given sun-drenched beach day, the sands of Cape Cod entertain children building sand castles, sea glass collectors, sun worshipers, and dozens of folks just out for a stroll. Here, in no particular order, are ten of the very best beaches to check out on your next visit to Cape Cod.
1. Sandy Neck, Barnstable
Although pebbly in spots, Sandy Neck attracts quite a crowd on a hot summer day. Miles of trails weave throughout the dunes, offering nature lovers an opportunity to spot wildlife, including the endangered piping plover. With a snack bar, changing facilities, and lots of space to park, it’s a great beach to spend the day, and even better for catching a spectacular sunset.
2. Craigville, Barnstable
Popular in the mid-Cape area, Craigville beach is often crowded, but with a long stretch of sand and plenty of parking, it’s a great destination for families, kite surfers, and people watchers. Offering showers, umbrella rental, and handicapped accessibility, Craigville is a go to beach for residents and tourists alike.
3. Nauset, Orleans
If your looking for challenging waves to conquer, look no further than Nauset beach. This 10-mile expanse of sand stretches all the way to Chatham. Known for its gorgeous sunrises and spectacular wave action, it’s no wonder the massive parking lot fills on a summer day.
4. Coast Guard, Eastham
Named for the former coast guard station that still adorns the landscape, this beach earns high marks for its stunning views. Often recognized as one of the top 10 beaches in the U.S., Coast Guard beach is one of the jewels of the Cape Cod National Seashore.
5. Skaket, Orleans
One of the most beautiful beaches surrounding Cape Cod, Skaket beach is the ideal beach to head to for a glorious sunset. A large swarth of sand with calm water and a flat shoreline, beachgoers have the added advantage of watching the deep sea fishing fleet sail into and out of nearby Rock Harbor.
6. Mayflower, Dennis
Clearly a favorite among those in the know, Mayflower’s most endearing feature emerges when the tide is low and the sand seems to stretch for miles out to sea. A hotspot for sunsets, its powdery white sand lures sunbathers and seashell hunters through the summer season.
7. Seagull Beach, Yarmouth
Overlooking Nantucket sound, this long stretch of beach offers warm water and a steady breeze. Perfect for swimming and frolicking among the waves, it is not uncommon to find exceptional opportunities for bird watching here, including the errant seagull.
8. West Dennis Beach, West Dennis
Easily accessible with plenty of parking, West Dennis beach is a haven for kite flyers and wind surfers. You’ll find loads of amenities here, everything from a well-stocked snack bar, to a delightful play area for children, and seasonal supervision by lifeguards.
9. Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Chatham
This beautiful and often deserted beach is especially intriguing due to a large population of seals that bob in the surf on a daily basis. Parking is limited, but in-town parking lots offer shuttle service. Back by the infamous Chatham lighthouse, the beach is not monitored by lifeguards, so be sure to observe the colored flags indicating whether it’s safe for swimming or not.
10. Race Point, Provincetown
Located in the Provincelands near the tip of Cape Cod, Race Point is a spectacular beach to scan for whales feeding offshore. The water here can be rough, often visited by surfers, but shallow spots allow for safe swimming. The adjacent Old Harbor Life Station welcomes visitors during the busy summer season.
Lodging on Cape Cod for your Beach Getaway
Whatever you fancy on your next visit to Cape Cod, be sure to check out at least one of our beautiful beaches. We provide beach chairs and towels for guests of the Captain Farris House.
Updated July 2021