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The 16 Best Beaches in Massachusetts in 2023 [Cape Cod, Nantucket & More]

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

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Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
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With Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket all within Massachusetts borders, it’s not surprising it’s one of the most picturesque beach locations in the country.

However, those aren’t the only beaches in the state. Most people overlook that there are numerous places in this part of the East Coast to go for some time on the sand — you don’t have to be limited to the most famous beachy areas.

Whether you want some peaceful time by the water or want to feel like you’re where the action is, there’s a place in Massachusetts ready for a perfect beach vacation.

Map of the 16 Best Beaches in Massachusetts

The 8 Best Beaches in the Boston Area and North Shore

1. Carson Beach, Boston

Carson Beach
Image Credit: Jinjian Liang via Flickr (license)

Considering how close Carson Beach is to Boston, you might be surprised to find out that it’s one of the cleanest urban swimming areas in the country.

However, clean water isn’t the only attraction that draws people to this beach. It’s also a family-friendly place for some peace and quiet away from the hum of the city. The sand is well-maintained and even, making it easy to go on walks or set out a towel or beach chair.

While the beach itself doesn’t have businesses on the sand, it’s near everything you might need from restaurants to changing areas. So if you forget to pack something in your beach bag, you don’t have to worry.

This beach is very popular with locals, so you’ll mostly encounter them while you’re here, especially if you visit during a weekend in the spring or summer.

2. Constitution Beach, Boston

Constitution Beach
Image Credit: massmatt via Flickr (license)

Constitution Beach, also called Orient Heights Beach, is one of Boston’s best-kept secrets. This beach is nestled near a residential neighborhood, so it’s a nice reprieve from the noise that comes from the city center.

However, it’s not just the peace and quiet that keeps the people coming to this part of the Massachusetts coast. The landscape is flat and even, and the sand is a nice combination of soft and firm. That all makes it a great spot to go for a jog or walk.

The beach is safe, and there’s plenty of space to let little kids run around, but don’t be surprised if they find it more fun to sit and watch the planes fly in and out of Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS).

You might find more crowds around summer holidays like Independence Day or Memorial Day weekend. Otherwise, you shouldn’t have any trouble scouting out a good spot for your beach day.

Hot Tip: Check out our guide to the best things to do in Boston — we even have a focused guide on things to do in Boston with kids!

3. Crane Beach, Ipswich

Crane Beach
Image Credit: The Trustees

Ipswich is home to Crane Beach, a stretch of Massachusetts’ coast that’s been set aside for the conservation and protection of the area’s natural landscape.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that its protected status means you can’t enjoy yourself here, though. Visitors are welcome to spend some time outdoors on the beach’s 1,234 acres of land. With 4 miles of coastline to its name, there are plenty of places for you to explore. You can check out the sand dunes or go for a walk through the pine forest.

On lovely summer days, make sure to bring your swimsuit so you can go for a dip in the naturally clean water since boats can’t get too close to this part of the coast. While not necessary, getting a visitor’s pass beforehand guarantees you entry to the park.

4. Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester

Good Harbor Beach
Image Credit: pfly via Flickr (license)

Good Harbor Beach might be small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm. With its small wooden pier that lets you access the sand that comes up from the water and its grassy shore, the area is picturesque enough to belong in a painting.

If you want to go to this beach, make sure you go early. It’s open to the public, but not all day. In the evening, the beach becomes a residents-only spot designated for Gloucester residents.

You can still get a full day’s worth of fun in the sun, though, even if you have to clear out early. You can even grab a surfboard during the summer. While you won’t find Olympic-level waves, it might still be surprising just how much of a tide this little stretch of the beach has.

5. Lovells Island, Boston Harbor Islands

Lovells Island
Image Credit: Alice via Flickr (license)

Lovells Island is part of the Boston Harbor Islands, a national recreation area that’s protected and maintained so people can enjoy visiting for years to come. Since it’s an island, it takes a little more effort to get here, so it’s the perfect place to spend a night or 2 during the summer.

There’s a lot to do on the island, from hiking to exploring Fort Standish, which sits on the land. However, spending time on the beach is one of the biggest reasons why people come back here year after year.

Swimming here is safe, but there are no lifeguards on duty, so make sure you’re cautious while you splash around. When you’re ready to be dry, you can go for a nice walk on the soft sand. Being surrounded by Lovells Island’s greenery helps you feel like you’ve gone back in time while you’re on vacation.

6. Savin Hill and Malibu Beach, Dorchester

Savin Hill and Malibu Beach are so often confused with one another that they’ve essentially been joined into one coastal stretch, which isn’t a problem because they’re both charming. Savin Hill Beach, in particular, has a very homey feel to it that makes it hard to remember you’re near a big city.

During the summer’s busy weekends, there’s a little more excitement with families and small get-togethers on the sand with music and chatter. During the rest of the year, it’s relatively calm and quiet, though.

There’s a protected swimming area as well. Since this section of the beach is sheltered from currents, you can be a little more carefree. Still, make sure to use caution if there aren’t any lifeguards around while you’re going for a swim. There are also fields nearby to play ball and a playground for on-land entertainment.

7. Singing Beach, Manchester

Singing Beach
Image Credit: Vitor Pamplona via Flickr (license)

If you’ve been on the hunt for a Massachusetts beach that will let you have a carefree day by the water, this is the place for you. Singing Beach has virtually everything you need to have fun, no matter who is in your travel party. There’s a snack bar if you want to have a last-minute picnic and plenty of space to spread out.

However, the biggest reason why tourists flock to this beach has to do with its name. Due to the ways the sand grains are shaped and the combination of the wind and water that move them, the sand makes a “singing” sound that’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard before.

What’s more, if you go to the beach when visitors have mostly cleared out, you’ll notice the sound echoing in a beautiful but sometimes spooky sort of way.

8. Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester

Wingaersheek Beach
Image Credit: photoholic1 via Flickr (license)

Ending this list is another picturesque beach in Gloucester. Wingaersheek Beach is less than a mile long, but it deserves a spot on your travel list. The beach is characterized by its peaceful ambiance and the large boulders that are scattered around the shore, giving the area an interesting and cinematic look.

The beach is mainly maintained by residents, but visitors from out of town are also welcome. However, don’t expect to stop in for a last-minute visit. If you don’t live in the area, you need a reservation to set foot on the shore. This helps ensure there’s space for everyone who wants to come see or swim in the beach’s waters.

Hot Tip: Once you have a pass, you can visit freely between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The 3 Best Beaches in Cape Cod

1. Chatham Lighthouse Beach

Chatham Lighthouse Beach
Image Credit: Mr. Nixter via Flickr (license)

Chatham Lighthouse Beach has some of the best and most sweeping coastal views on the Eastern Seaboard.

Most beach access points require going down a few flights of stairs, but there are more accessible options for people with mobility concerns. Check beforehand to make sure you find the right place to get to the sand.

This beach is particularly beautiful during sunrise and sunset. When the sun’s coming up, you’ll see it glittering over the horizon on the water, which definitely makes getting up early to see it worth the effort. At sunset, you can turn to watch the sky explode in colors behind the beach’s lighthouse for a dramatic view you won’t forget.

Hot Tip: There isn’t any natural shade, so pack a sunhat or beach umbrella for extra protection.

2. Coast Guard Beach

Coast Guard Beach
Image Credit: Tyler Setterlund via NPS

If you decide to take a trip to Cape Cod while you’re in Massachusetts, make sure you head to Coast Guard Beach for an all-around good day by the water. Though the water is warmest in the summer, which is the best time to go swimming, this beach is worth visiting all year.

Since it’s part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, Coast Guard Beach is clean and well-maintained both in and out of the water. The park rangers, Cape Cod residents, and visitors all work together to make sure the shore is pristine.

While there are a few older structures around the beach, you won’t find any new buildings, giving the area a classically coastal feel that many people love. In fact, that’s part of why this beach is so famous for long walks on the sand, even during the colder, windier winter months.

3. Race Point Beach

Race Point Beach
Image Credit: Lin Mei via Flickr (license)

When you think of the East Coast’s beaches, you probably picture something close to Race Point Beach. With its trails, dunes, and interspersed brush and grassy areas, it looks wild, natural, and curated at the same time.

You’ll have all the amenities you need here. There are on-site changing areas, meaning you don’t have to try to get changed in your car or leave the beach still in your wet bathing suit.

However, even if you didn’t go in the water, you’d be able to fill a day exploring the area. You can even go on a lighthouse hunt where you try to find all the historic buildings that line the water, which is an activity kids tend to love. If you’re driving to Race Point, you’ll have to pay for parking, so make sure to factor that into your planning.

The 3 Best Beaches in Martha’s Vineyard and South Coast

1. Aquinnah Public Beach, Martha’s Vineyard

Moshup Beach
Image Credit: Tracy Lee Carroll via Flickr (license)

If you’ve ever dreamed of going to Martha’s Vineyard, you should consider planning a beach day at Aquinnah Public Beach (also known as Moshup Beach). It’s one of the most popular coastal spots on this Massachusetts island, and it’s not hard to see why. The beach is fully equipped for most of your needs.

There’s a parking lot nearby, so you don’t have to walk for miles to get to the sand, and it has restrooms where you can change or clean up after going in the water. The beach also allows picnics, which means you can spend your whole day here without worrying about getting hungry or having to leave.

The water is calm, and you’ll be under the watchful eyes of the lifeguards during the summer. However, during the winter, it’s too cold to swim, so keep that in mind. You’ll have to stick to enjoying a walk on the beach.

2. Horseneck Beach, Westport

Horseneck Beach
Image Credit: Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Horseneck Beach is a state reservation that preserves this section of the country’s coast. Though the beach is natural and wilder than more curated areas, it doesn’t feel overgrown or uninviting. Instead, it’s naturally well-maintained.

Its charm and ability to make people feel like they’re far removed from their day-to-day stresses are what make this one of the most popular beaches in the state. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people come to this shore both from within and beyond the state.

The current here is calm enough for young or inexperienced swimmers, but you can also explore the marshes or go kayaking if you’d prefer to do something else here. Since this is a state reservation, don’t expect to find many amenities. There are restrooms, but no place to get something to eat, so plan ahead.

3. South Beach, Mattakeset Bay

Katama Beach
Image Credit: Joy via Flickr (license)

So you don’t confuse it with the Miami beach of the same name, you can also refer to South Beach, Massachusetts, as Katama Beach. This beach is directly west of Norton Point Beach on Mattakeset Bay.

The beach is laid out in a way that’s reminiscent of parts of the coast further south, from the architecture to the interspersed plants on the sand. It’s even a great place to go for surfing. The waves can get pretty big and consistent here, giving you surprisingly good surf for this part of the country.

When you’re on the beach or in town, you’ll notice a very laid-back attitude that makes it easy to relax and feel like you’re right at home. You can swim or walk along the 3-mile shore to your heart’s content.

The 2 Best Beaches in Nantucket

1. Cisco Beach

Cisco Beach
Image Credit: Holly Ladd via Flickr (license)

Cisco Beach is one of Nantucket’s jewels. It’s just a few miles out of town, making it an easy drive or even a walk if you’re up for the exercise.

You’ll definitely know you’ve made it to the right part of the coast when you see the white sand that leads down to the water. It’s soft, plush, and extremely comfortable to lay on while you listen to the tide or work on your tan.

However, if you’re up for a bit of excitement, this beach is excellent for you too. It’s one of the most popular places in the state for surfing.

Much of the East Coast is a little flat when it comes to waves. Thanks to its geography, Cisco Beach is an exception to that rule. Waves consistently roll in during the summer, which is convenient since that’s when the water is warmest.

2. Madaket Beach

Madaket Beach
Image Credit: Allison Richards via Flickr (license)

Madaket Beach is the premier sunset destination in Nantucket, if not the entire state. The beach is wide and has plenty of room to lay out a blanket, whether you’re enjoying some peace and quiet by yourself or you’re having a romantic getaway.

The sand is plush and free from most debris, so you don’t have to worry about any sticks or rocks scraping you while you walk. The beach is even prone to some waves, especially during the summer or stormy days.

You don’t have to worry about the current being too strong, though, even when the tide seems a little choppy in the distance. If you stay near the shore, you’ll be able to wade and swim without any problems. On top of that, there are lifeguards on duty during the summer.

Final Thoughts

Massachusetts isn’t just a coastal haven for high-society people. There’s somewhere in the state for everyone to enjoy some time at the beach. We hope that this list has brought you one step closer to figuring out which beach spot in the state is the best spot for the trip of your dreams.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Massachusetts have sandy beaches?

Many of Massachusetts’ beaches are sandy. All along the state’s coast, you’ll find soft sand lining the beaches. Many inland spots also have sandy shorelines. However, you’ll also find a few pebbly beaches in Massachusetts if that’s what you’d prefer.

Can you swim on Massachusetts beaches?

Massachusetts has numerous swimmable beaches. There are some places where the current can be strong, though, so be careful and research ahead of time to make sure you’re prepared.

Is Cape Cod warm enough to swim?

Cape Cod has warm water, but not all year. If you visit in the fall, winter, or early spring, the water and air temperatures will be too cold to comfortably stay in the water. During the summer, though, you’ll be able to swim comfortably.

Why are New England beaches so cold?

New England’s beaches are cold because of the air temperature more than the water temperature. The Atlantic has fairly warm water, but if the air is cool, you won’t be able to swim without risking hypothermia. During the summer, the beaches are much warmer.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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