Attractions

14 Best Beaches in Massachusetts to Vacation to

From the North Shore down to Cape Cod, the beaches in Massachusetts are nothing less than spectacular.

Whether you’re after sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, or breathtaking lighthouses, Massachusetts’s extensive coastline has something for everyone.

Today, we list down the best beaches in Massachusetts to help you plan your next beach holiday.

Note: For simplicity, this list only includes ocean beaches on Massachusetts’ coastal areas. Inland beaches on lakes and other freshwater bodies of water were not considered.

Beaches on the North Shore of Massachusetts

The North Shore region of Massachusetts refers to the coastal area between New Hampshire and Boston. The beaches here have a wide variety of landscapes; from craggy coastlines to sandy beaches, with marshes and wetlands interspersed.

This area has the coolest weather during the peak of summer compared to the other coastal regions in the state, but this applies to the waters as well.

1. Crane Beach – Ipswich

01 Crane Beach - Ipswich, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

A pristine, four-mile stretch of sandy beach backed by dunes and beach grass, a pine forest, and a view of Plum Island over the horizon, Crane Beach is one of the most picturesque swimming beaches in Massachusetts.

This beach is also among the world’s most important nesting sites for the almost-extinct piping plover. The elevated boardwalks protect the dunes below them and provide a great way to walk all around the beach.

Crane Beach is part of the vast Crane Estate, meticulously managed by the Trustees of Reservations who manage the property and maintain the balance among wildlife conservation, tourism, and recreation.

Essential Information
Location: Ipswich, MA 01938
Activities: Swimming, hiking, biking, birdwatching, beach lounging, picnicking, sunset watching
Main access point: Argilla Road, Ipswich, MA 01938
Lifeguard? Seasonal
Dogs allowed? Only from October 1 to March 31; leashed only
Nearby services and amenities: Parking, restrooms, showers, changing rooms, picnic tables
Nearest towns: Ipswich, MA; Essex, MA
Nearby places of interest: Great House at Castle Hill, Hamlin Reservation, Crane Wildlife Refuge
More information:
Crane Beach on the Crane Estate | The Trustees of Reservations

2. Half Moon Beach – Gloucester

02 Half Moon Beach - Gloucester, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Eric Kilby

Hidden within Stage Fort Park, Half Moon Beach is a secluded beach with a distinct crescent shape and blue water.

Stone steps lead down from the main area of the park right on the sandy beach. Rock cliffs surround the beach, adding even more to the feeling of seclusion. You can climb up these cliffs for amazing views of the beach from above.

The waves aren’t very big, which is perfect for children, plus there are public bathrooms and picnic areas right in the park.

There’s actually another beach within the park called Cressy’s Beach, which has beautiful views as well but not as good for swimming as Half Moon Beach.

Essential Information
Location: Gloucester, MA 01930
Season: Open only from Memorial Day to Labor Day
Activities: Swimming, beach lounging, picnicking
Main access point: Stage Fort Park | 24 Hough Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930
Lifeguard? Seasonal
Dogs allowed? Only from October 1 to April 30; leashed only
Nearby services and amenities: Parking, restrooms, picnic tables
Nearest city: Gloucester, MA
Nearby places of interest: Stage Fort Park, Cressy’s Beach, Gloucester HarborWalk, Hammond Castle Museum
More information:
Beach Information | City of Gloucester
Beach Rules and Regulations | City of Gloucester

3. Singing Beach – Manchester-by-the-Sea

03 Singing Beach - Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Vitor Pamplona

Few beaches in the world can claim to have musical sand, and this beach is one of them.

Singing Beach does exactly as its name implies; the sands of this beach “sing” or emit a sound when walked on or when the wind blows.

But even if it didn’t have musical sand, its clear waters, views of nearby islands, and gentle waves make Singing Beach a great destination.

Bring your own umbrella, though; there’s very little shade to be found.

Essential Information
Location: Manchester, MA 01944
Season: All year; most amenities only available Memorial Day to Labor Day
Activities: Swimming, beach lounging, picnicking
Main access point: 121 Beach Street, Manchester, MA 01944
Lifeguard? Seasonal
Dogs allowed? Only from October 15 to April 15; leashed only
Nearby services and amenities: Parking (limited for non-residents), restrooms, showers, changing rooms, sports areas
Nearest towns: Manchester, MA; Essex, MA
Nearby places of interest: Masconomo Park, Manchester Historical Museum
More information: Singing Beach | Manchester-by-the-Sea

4. Front Beach – Rockport

04 Front Beach - Rockport, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: with wind

Front Beach is a small but beautiful beach in Rockport that’s a favorite destination for local families. Easy access to this beach from downtown Rockport and nearby inns and hotels, plus the proximity to restaurants and shops are all factors to its popularity.

During the high tide, the water rises and shortens the already-small beach, but swimmers look forward to it. Kids especially like beachcombing, climbing on the nearby rocks, and wading in the tidal pools.

Essential Information
Location: Rockport, MA 01966
Activities: Swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing, beach lounging, beach walking
Main access point: Beach Road, Rockport, MA 01966
Lifeguard? Seasonal
Dogs allowed? Only from September 16 to May 31; leashed only
Nearby services and amenities: Parking, restrooms
Nearest towns/cities: Rockport, MA; Gloucester
Nearby places of interest: Halibut Point State Park, Bearskin Neck, Rockport Granite Pier
More information: Front Beach | Visit Rockport, MA

5. Revere Beach – Revere

05 Revere Beach - Revere, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Eric Kilby

Established in 1896, Revere Beach holds the distinction of being the first public beach in the country.

With three miles of lovely coastline dotted with commercial, residential, and recreational spaces, Revere Beach is a convenient yet clean beach to visit.

Moreover, it is easily accessible from Boston even by public transport. One simply has to ride the Blue Line of the MBTA and get off at either the Revere Beach or Wonderland stop.

Every July, Revere Beach is thrust into the spotlight when the annual Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival is held on this beach; visitors who want to see the various sand sculptures number in the millions.

Essential Information
Location: Revere, MA 02151
Activities: Swimming, fishing, kayaking, beach lounging
North access point: 600 Ocean Ave, Revere, MA 02151
South access point: 400 Revere Beach Blvd, Revere, MA 02151
Lifeguard? Seasonal
Dogs allowed? Only from September 16 to March 31; leashed only
Nearby services and amenities: Parking, restrooms, showers, playgrounds, sports areas
Nearest cities: Revere, MA; Boston, MA
Nearby places of interest: Belle Isle Marsh Reservation, Revere Historical Society Museum, City of Boston
More information:
Revere Beach
Revere Beach Information | City of Revere

Beaches in Massachusetts near Boston

If you’re in Boston and want a beach getaway without traveling too far or just want a day trip, Downtown Boston is close to a few sandy beaches that you can easily travel to. The Boston Harbor Islands are also a ferry or a boat ride away.

6. Spectacle Island – Boston

06 Spectacle Island - Boston, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Eric Kilby

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park is composed of 34 islands and peninsulas on the Boston Harbor, all just minutes away from Boston proper.

Spectacle Island is the most-visited island in this recreation area, with a visitor center, marina, hiking trails, picnic areas, and a lifeguarded beach.

Hike up to North Drumlin, the highest point in the island, to get breathtaking views of Boston Harbor and the Boston skyline, one of the best skylines in the country.

Public transportation Spectacle Island is only accessible by ferry from Boston’s Long Wharf. Ferry service is only on the weekends from mid-May to late June and after Labor Day until Columbus Day; it runs daily during the summer season.

Essential Information
Location: Boston, MA 02110
Season: Open only from Mid-May to Columbus Day
Activities: Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking
Main access point: Spectacle Island Ferry Terminal
Lifeguard? Seasonal
Dogs allowed? No
Nearby services and amenities: Restrooms, marina, picnic areas, playground, visitors center, campgrounds
Nearest city: Boston, MA
More information:
Boston Harbor Islands
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area | National Park Service

7. Carson Beach – Boston

07 Carson Beach - Boston, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Hrennenn

Carson Beach is part of a three-mile park complex along the coastline in South Boston, including Castle Island, Pleasure Bay, and M Street Beach.

Renovations to the beach in recent years have helped to increase the popularity of this beach. Annual testing also ensures the safety of this beach for swimming.

Walk along the HarborWalk to reach the neighboring M Street Beach, or simply hang out at Mother’s Rest Pavilion and enjoy this respite from the city with fantastic views of the Boston Harbor and Logan Airport.

This beach is accessible by train through the MBTA Red Line; get off at either the Andrew or JFK/UMass stops.

Essential Information
Location: Boston, MA 02125
Activities: Swimming, fishing, beach walking, beach lounging, picnicking
Main access point: 165 HarborWalk, Boston, MA 02125
Lifeguard? Yes
Dogs allowed? Only from September 16 to April 30; leashed only
Nearby services and amenities: Parking, restrooms, showers, picnic areas, playground
Nearest city: Boston, MA
Nearby places of interest: M Street Beach, Castle Island, Joe Moakley Park, University of Massachusetts
More information:
Castle Island, Pleasure Bay, M Street Beach and Carson Beach | Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Beaches on the South Shore of Massachusetts

The South Shore of Massachusetts refers to the coastal area between Boston and Cape Cod. Many of these towns have a large population of Irish immigrants and their descendants, which is why this region is also sometimes called the Irish Riviera.

8. Wollaston Beach – Quincy

08 Wollaston Beach - Quincy, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Bill Ilott

Quincy Shores Reservation is a protected shoreline including Moswetuset Hummock, Caddy Park, and Wollaston Beach, its primary attraction.

The largest beach on Boston Harbor, Wollaston Beach stretches 2.3 miles and is accessible via Quincy Shore Drive.

The developed promenade beside it is popular among joggers, cyclists, and dog walkers. Swimming is technically allowed, but recent tests have shown that the water quality isn’t suitable for swimming.

Nevertheless, enjoy the views of Boston Harbor, South Boston, and a few of the Boston Harbor Islands.

Wollaston Beach is easily accessible via the Red Line of the MBTA and getting off at the Wollaston stop. You can walk along Beach Street to Quincy Shore Drive from here, or take Wollaston Beach/Ashmont Bus #217.

Essential Information
Location: Quincy, MA 02170
Activities: Walking, sightseeing, fishing, picnicking, kayaking
Main access point: Beach Street corner Quincy Shore Drive
Lifeguard? Yes
Dogs allowed? Only from September 16 to April 30
Nearby services and amenities: Parking, restrooms, showers, picnic area, playground, boat ramp, yacht clubs
Nearest town/city: Quincy, MA; Boston, MA
Nearby places of interest: Moswetuset Hummock, Caddy Park
More information:
Quincy Shores Reservation

9. Nantasket Beach – Hull

09 Nantasket Beach - Hull, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Tim Pierce

Nantasket Beach Reservation is a stretch of protected shoreline in Hull, with its primary attraction being Nantasket Beach.

With three miles of fine gray sand and a popular boardwalk with plenty of attractions, this beach offers a unique urban beach experience.

Essential Information
Location: Hull, MA 02045
Activities: Swimming, surfing, kayaking, hiking, biking
Main access point: DCR Parking Lot | Wharf Ave., Hull, MA 02045
Lifeguard? Seasonal
Dogs allowed? Only from September 16 to March 31
Nearby services and amenities: Parking, restrooms, showers, playground, pavilion, playground
Nearest town: Hull, MA; Hingham, MA; Cohassett, MA
Nearby places of interest: Paragon Boardwalk, Paragon Carousel, Fort Revere Park, World’s End
More information:
Nantasket Beach Reservation

Beaches in Cape Cod and the Islands

Cape Cod extends 70 miles into the Atlantic, and along with Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, boast of some of the best beaches in Massachusetts.

The sand tends to be powdery, the waves gentle, and the tidal pools shallow enough for kids to wade and play in, making the beaches in this region great for families with kids.

10. Great Point Beach – Nantucket

10 Great Point Beach - Nantucket, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

The Trustees of the Reservation manage the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, a 1,110-acre area over two peninsulas with the largest red cedar woodland in New England, salt marshes, Great Point Lighthouse, and miles of sand dunes and beaches.

Within this wildlife refuge, at the northernmost point of Nantucket, is Great Point Lighthouse (officially Nantucket Light) surrounded by one of the most secluded beaches in Massachusetts.

Surf fishing on Great Point Beach is popular, and you’ll likely see fishermen knee-deep in the surf trying to catch a “Nantucket Slam”: striped bass, bluefish, bonito, and false albacore.

Keep your eye out for grey seals, great white sharks, osprey, and seagulls.

The refuge itself can only be reached via an oversand vehicle (permit required) or by foot (not recommended) from the gatehouse.

Essential Information
Location: Nantucket, MA 02554
Activities: Surf fishing, hiking, wildlife watching, birdwatching
Main access point: Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge Gatehouse | 107 Wauwinet Rd, Nantucket, MA 02554
Lifeguard? No
Dogs allowed? Only from September 16 to March 31; leashed only
Nearby services and amenities: Restrooms
Nearest town: Nantucket, MA
Nearby places of interest: Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, Great Point Lighthouse
More information:
Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge
Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge | US Fish and Wildlife Refuge

11. Aquinnah Public Beach – Martha’s Vineyard

11 Aquinnah Public Beach - Aquinnah, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Bob P.B.

Also known as Moshup Beach, Aquinnah Public Beach is quite possibly one of the most dramatic beaches in Massachusetts.

The defining feature of this beach is its spectacular view of the Aquinnah Cliffs. These clay cliffs were formed by glaciers millions of years ago, depositing layers of sediments in streaks of yellow, red, green, and white.

If you’re feeling adventurous (in more ways than one), the area right under the cliffs is a “clothing optional” section.

Swimming is not recommended due to the strong currents and harsh waves.

Essential Information
Location: Aquinnah, MA 02535
Activities: Beach lounging, sightseeing, hiking, sunset watching
Main access point: 53 Moshup Trail, Aquinnah, MA 02535
Lifeguard? No
Dogs allowed? No
Nearby services and amenities: Parking, restrooms, picnic tables
Nearest town: Aquinnah, MA
Nearby places of interest: Aquinnah Cliffs Overlook, Gay Head Light, Moshup Trail, Aquinnah Cultural Center
More information:
Beaches on Martha’s Vineyard

12. Race Point Beach – Provincetown

12 Race Point Beach - Provincetown, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: m01229

Race Point Beach is one of the beaches that are within the Cape Cod National Seashore. It features rolling sand dunes and beach grass with a great view of the endless ocean, sometimes interrupted by a whale or seal.

Biking and hiking trails are nearby and lead to nearby Herring Cove Beach.

Race point Lighthouse is at the very tip of Cape Cod’s arm at its westernmost point.

Swimming is highly discouraged due to the strong undertow, though experienced surfers can take advantage of the strong waves in the designated area.

Essential Information
Location: Provincetown, MA 02657
Activities: Surf fishing, surfing, hiking, biking, wildlife watching, birdwatching, sunset watching, camping
Main access point: End of Race Point Rd, Provincetown, MA 02657
Lifeguard? Seasonal
Dogs allowed? Only on certain areas and only from September 15 to May 15; leashed only
Nearby services and amenities: Parking, restrooms, showers, changing rooms, campgrounds
Nearest town: Provincetown, MA
Nearby places of interest: Provincelands Visitor Center, Old Harbor Life-Saving Station Museum, Race Point Lighthouse
More information:
Provincetown Beaches
Race Point Beach | National Park Service

13. Coast Guard Beach – Eastham

13 Coast Guard Beach - Eastham, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

Another beach on the Cape Cod National Seashore, Coast Guard Beach is a consistently high-rated beach named for the old white Coast Guard building that still stands on the dune above the beach.

Its features include The Great Beach (a 20-mile uninterrupted sandy coastline), Nauset Marsh (best place to see shorebirds), and Nauset Spit (a barrier beach system).

Keep your eyes open for plovers and terns who may be stopping by, as well as seals, especially on the Nauset Spit.

Or simply wade through the clear water and stay until sunset for an amazing beach experience.

Essential Information
Location: Eastham, MA 02642
Activities: Swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, biking, beach walking, sunset watching, wildlife watching, birdwatching
Main access point: Ocean View Drive, Eastham, MA 02642
Lifeguard? Seasonal
Dogs allowed? Only on certain areas and only from September 15 to May 15; leashed only
Nearby services and amenities: Limited parking (seasonal), restrooms, showers
Nearest town: Eastham, MA
Nearby places of interest: Coast Guard Museum, Nauset Lighthouse, Doane Rock Picnic Area, Salt Pond Visitor Center
More information:
Coast Guard Beach | National Park Service

14. Mayflower Beach – Dennis

14 Mayflower Beach - Dennis, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Jones Road Caddie

Mayflower Beach is a favorite beach destination for families looking for a spacious beach with calm water where one can wade, frolic, or simply enjoy the sunset.

Once you’ve parked, you can walk on a long boardwalk on top of the dunes right to the beach. The powdery sand barely has any rocks, seashells, or seaweed.

At low tide, you can walk for miles on the tidal flats, and there are a few tidal pools and sandbars to explore as well.

Essential Information
Location: Dennis, MA 02638
Season: Memorial Day to Labor Day
Activities: Swimming, beach walking, beach lounging, sunset watching, picnicking
Main access point: Mayflower Beach Public Paid Parking | 62 Horsefoot Path (Dunes Road), Dennis, MA 02638
Lifeguard? Seasonal
Dogs allowed? Only after Labor Day to before Memorial day; leashed only
Nearby services and amenities: Parking, restrooms, picnic area, sports area
Nearest town: Dennis, MA
Nearby places of interest: Corporation Beach, Chapin Memorial Beach, Scargo Tower, Cape Cod Museum of Art
More information:
Beach Information | Town of Dennis

Vacation on one of these beaches in Massachusetts soon!

This list features a few out of the hundreds of beaches in Massachusetts, but this is a good place to start when planning your beach holiday.

Ocean beaches aren’t the only natural water attractions in Massachusetts. Take a look at the best waterfalls in Massachusetts.

Other beaches on the East Coast

California and Hawaii are popular beach destinations, but several of the country’s best beaches can be found along the Atlantic Ocean. Check out our lists of some of the best beaches on the East Coast.

Connecticut beaches
Georgia beaches
New Jersey beaches
South Carolina beach towns
North Carolina beaches
Florida Keys Road Trip

Have you been to any of these beaches in Massachusetts? Did I miss any of your favorites? Tell us in the comments!

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