We always pay attention to the questions guests ask us and like to pass on that information in our blog for our pre-visiting guests to plan their Cape Cod holiday. The number one question is always about our beaches and it was fun to think of the play on words as our Cape Cod beaches really do “rule” 🙂 Shown below are some “Live Like a Local” insider tips about our beaches and the “rules” you need to be aware of. We have included our favorite most sought after locations but know our breath taking peninsula has over 150 choices, depending on which part of the Cape you want to visit.
Brewster is famous for our Brewster Flats, a phenomenon created by the daily tides which recede out into the middle of Cape Cod bay for over a mile, creating a beautiful and unique environment to see sandbars, clam beds, oyster farms and tidal pools teaming with plenty of sea life to explore.
We have a tide clock in our parlor so that you can plan your beach excursion for whether you want to walk for miles on Cape Cod Bay at low tide or if you prefer a swimming beach experience at high tide.
We love our Breakwater Beach which is just a short stroll from the inn, and we have back pack beach chairs to relax on the beach. Portable toilets are on all of the Brewster Beaches. There are a total of 7 town beaches in Brewster and each has its own character. Crosby Beach is probably the most crowded and an insider tip is Mant’s Landing which is usually the least crowded and just a short stroll to the popular Paine’s Creek Beach.
Beach Parking in Brewster
Parking passes are required on all Brewster Beaches from June 15- September 1, 2019- 9am -4pm daily. The parking lots are monitored very closely and they do match the sticker to your license plate number. There are no fees for walkers or bikers. Passes are on sale from 9am-3 pm in the Brewster Chamber of Commerce. There are no attendants at the beaches and fines without a pass are $40. Beaches close at 10pm. Cookouts are not allowed on town beaches and dogs, horses and other pets are also not allowed during the summer months.
Cape Cod National Seashore
The National Park Service is charged with overseeing the Cape Cod National Seashore, which was established more than 50 years ago and covers 40 miles of coastline from Orleans to Provincetown. While towns have their own beaches within those borders, the official Seashore includes 6 beaches in four towns:
Coast Guard Beach in Eastham-
This beach has been voted “Top 10 Beach lists” by the famous Dr. Beach for several years and for good reason. This picturesque beach has light waves for surfing and includes a spit of sand that leads to author Henry Beston’s former house- “the Outermost House” Directions for parking here.
Nauset Light Beach in Eastham-
Named after the big attraction which is just across the street from the parking lot is the famous Nauset Lighthouse which was erected in 1923 and popularized on the front of the packaging for Cape Cod Potato Chips. Nearby are the historic Three Sisters Lighthouses. Beach access has been recently re-done with a comfortable path down to the beach rather then the steep stairs which were washed away over the past few years.
Marconi Beach in Wellfleet-
For years we have said that this is our favorite National Seashore Beach but actually we love them all as they are all unique and special in their own ways. This beach is at the bottom of a large dune and the big attraction on this beach is the large waves- perfect for surfing. Also don’t miss the Red Cedar Swamp Trail which is also in this complex.
Head of the Meadows in Truro-
Popular draws at this beach are the rolling dunes, soft sand and marine life. There’s also always the chance of seeing the wreckage of The Francis, a German boat that crashed and sank in 1872.
Race Point Beach in Provincetown-
While the other National Seashore beaches are eroding, Race Point beach is actually adding sand every year. The beach is located where the ocean meets the bay, so there is a strong current for fishing. Over sand driving is allowed on this beach and you often can see whales making an appearance with your naked eye. It’s a good place to watch spectacular sunsets, and you might even spot a whale on its way to Stellwagen Bank, a breeding ground. Herring Cove, with much calmer waters
Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown-
The seashores’ only bay side beach has continual problems with erosion so this beach is constantly evolving. It has calm waters and parking very close to the beach.
We love the Salt Pond Visitors center which is at the entrance to the National Seashore in Eastham. The center is filled with friendly rangers available to help you choose the perfect beach for your day. Information can also be found at https://www.nps.gov/caco/planyourvisit/guide-to-beaches.htm
Beach entrance fees
Cape Cod National Seashore beach entrance fees are collected from late June through early September when lifeguards are on duty, and on weekends/holidays from Memorial Day to the end of September.Beach entrance fees are collected at all six seashore beaches.
Daily vehicle – $20
Motorcycles – $15
Pedestrians, bicyclists – $10
Cape Cod National Seashore annual pass – $60
There is no entrance fee for active duty military and their dependents with proper ID, nor for any children under the age of 16.
The “America the Beautiful” National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass series, valid at over 2,000 federal recreation sites is an $80 Annual Pass. The series also includes a Lifetime Senior Pass and an Annual Senior Pass which may be purchased by U.S. citizens or permanent residents 62 years or older. The Lifetime Senior Pass is $80; the Annual Senior Pass is $20. There is also an Access Pass, which is available for free to U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities, and a Free Annual Pass for U.S. Military personnel. Passes are not sold or distributed at Cape Cod National Seashore during the winter months; passes may always be purchased online.
Live Like a Local Insider Tip
Most of the Seashore beaches have large parking lots, but you’ll need to get there either early (before 10am) or later in the afternoon (after 3pm) on busy summer weekends to claim a spot. If the beach you want to go to is full, try the next one as the National Seashore Beaches beaches are 5 to 10 miles apart.
Some of our guests decide to visit some popular beaches in Dennis on the bay side. They are very similar in nature to our Brewster Beaches and Dennis is very close by as they are the next town over.
Our favorites include Cold Storage Beach, Corporation Beach, Chapin Memorial and Mayflower Beach.
These beaches are a little larger than our beaches and so each one has a parking attendant where you can pay your daily fee. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, non-resident parking is by daily fee ($20 weekdays and $25 on the weekends) or you may decide to purchase a parking sticker for $75 /week. You can purchase your weekly stickers at the Dennis Town Hall.
Chatham has 6 beaches and we hear over and over again that our guests favorite is Harding Beach. It’s a very easy beach to navigate, with the large parking lot close by. The waters here are warm as the beach is protected by Nantucket Sound. This is a favorite beach for wind surfers and sailing. With two parking lots, three life guard stations, a bathhouse with shower and food service trucks in each lot, Harding’s is Chatham’s most family-friendly beach. You’ll find more than enough room for long walks, a game of beach bocce (a favorite among the locals), frisbee or a world-class sand castle. You will enjoy view of Stage Harbor and Oyster River, Bucks Creek and Monomoy. Good bird watching.
Parking & Non-Resident Fees: Daily: $ 20.00, Weekly: $ 75.00, Seasonal: $175.00
Lifeguards: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. during the season (June 21 – September 1).
Facilities: Restrooms, Snackmobile
Chatham Light House Beach
This beach sits below the watchful gaze of Chatham Light, an active lighthouse at the Coast Guard Station that aids in the navigation of Chatham Waters.
Below is the ever-changing landscape of Chatham Lighthouse Beach, the largest beach in Chatham. Only half a mile from downtown, this beautiful expanse of sand offers nature walks out to southern Monomoy Island plus views of the daily migration routes of Chatham’s many seals and fishing boats.
The waters of Lighthouse Beach are dynamic. The strong currents and tides are influenced by wind and weather conditions. The strength of the current at Lighthouse Beach is significant. It is most dangerous at the south tip of Lighthouse Beach which is closed to swimming. The beginning of the no swim area is marked by signs posted on the beach. Please read and pay attention to all signage. The signs are there to educate and protect the public.
Lighthouse Beach is not guarded by lifeguards. It is swim-at-your-own-risk and is open in most areas. The beach is monitored by beach/boat patrols. The patrols are there to assess the beach, educate the public, prevent and respond to emergencies. The beach/boat patrols are not there to guard you or your families in the water.
A flagpole at the top of the stairs leading to the beach and a second flagpole on the beach below the parking lot warns the public of dangerous conditions. The red flag means swimming is PROHIBITED in all areas. The Lighthouse Beach patrols run from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm daily June 22 through Labor Day weekend.
Bridge Street Parking for Lighthouse Beach Please be aware that new parking requirements have been implemented for all vehicles which are parked along Bridge Street in order to access Lighthouse Beach. All nonresidents and non-taxpayers of Chatham will be required to purchase a Chatham Beach pass and display on their vehicle in order to park along the Bridge Street road shoulder. The area of parking restriction extends from the east side of Mitchell River Bridge through the eastern extent of allowable Bridge Street parking. These parking passes will be required beginning June 21 through Labor Day from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Please note that this requirement does NOT include parking at the Lighthouse overlook which is still available to all vehicles for short term (30 minutes) parking only. Violations of these parking restrictions are subject to a $50 parking citation.
Most of our guests decide on Harding Beach as you can purchase your pass as you drive up to the beach and the waters here are much calmer then Chatham Light House Beach.
Nauset Beach, Orleans
Saving one of our favorite beach that we visit year round for last- beautiful Nauset Beach in Orleans. (this is a town beach and is different from the Nauset Light House Beach mentioned earlier)
Located along the outer “elbow” of the Cape, this barrier beach descends all the way from East Orleans to a point opposite Chatham — about 9 miles in all, each mile increasingly deserted. This beach is administered by the town of Orleans but still considered part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Nauset Beach has paid parking, restrooms, and a fun mix of food trucks.
While it is a large beach, it fills up quickly so plan to arrive early. The sand is soft and clean, and there is good amount of waves/surf. Nauset is perfect for swimming, boogie boarding, skim boarding, and surfing and is a great spot to watch sunrises. In the off-season the beach is perfect for long walks with no crowds and no charge for parking.
Orleans beaches start charging for parking on weekends, starting May 25, 2019; weekdays, starting June 15, 2019; the last day they charge is September 2, 2019. Hours of beach operation are 7:30am – 4:30pm.
Parking fees: $20/daily, $75.00/week, $220/season.
Beach parking lot stickers can be purchased at the Nauset Beach Administration Bldg, 250 Beach Rd., on Saturday & Sunday starting May 25, 2019. Daily sales begin Saturday June 15, 2019. (Bring a copy of your current vehicle registration.)
Come Stay with Us
Enough with all the rules – a BIG advantage of staying at the Captain Freeman Inn is that Breakwater Beach is just a short stroll from the inn. Many of our guests walk to the beach and spend a few hours and then come back to the inn for refreshments and to relax by our calming salt water pool. Check out our new Concierge Page which is filled with helpful information about Cape Cod. Book your stay with us and enjoy our comfortable, newly renovated rooms and our farm to table breakfasts which are always homemade, frequently using fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables from our gardens.