The Beach Times

Free Beaches You Can Visit in Chatham, Massachusetts
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, August 17, 2020

You'll find countless beaches when visiting Chatham, Massachusetts, as the town is full of waterfront areas on the ocean and the area's kettle ponds.

The issue is that a non-resident beach sticker is $20 per day or $75 per week, so if you don't have a beach within walking distance of your vacation rental, the costs can add up.

However, there's good news, as Chatham has some free beaches that are just as scenic as the major ones but without the parking fees. These beaches won't have the same facilities, and parking spaces are often limited, but they provide a cost-efficient alternative to a town parking pass.

Here's some information on the free beaches you can frequent in Chatham during your vacation on Cape Cod.

Oyster Pond Beach

Locals love Oyster Pond Beach because it has the most facilities of the free venues. The water here is calm and warm, making it popular with families, and the docks give young swimmers the chance to jump into deeper water all day long. There are lifeguards on duty between late June and Labor Day, too.

In addition to the beach, the park has a grassy area with picnic tables and full indoor washrooms, both of which are great if you're visiting with children.

Keep in mind that this beach isn't very peaceful, since it's full of kids and Stage Harbor Road, a major vein connecting to Main Street, runs past it. Parking can also be an issue because the lot isn't large enough to accommodate the beach's popularity. The park is within walking distance of downtown, however, which has further parking options.

Forest Beach

The great thing about Forest Beach is that it feels like a private seashore, thanks to its secluded location in the trees overlooking Nantucket Sound. There's plenty of space to spread out at this location, and you can walk the trails through the neighboring conservation area and salt marsh.

These trails have numerous exits to the ocean, and if you pack your beach supplies, there's a good chance you'll find a section of sand with no one around for what seems like miles.

Getting to Forest Beach is straightforward, as you'll drive to South Chatham and turn off Main Street onto Forest Beach Road, directly across from The Talkative Pig restaurant.

Parking is often an issue here, so you'll want to arrive early in the morning or in the mid-afternoon to ensure you find a spot. The beach doesn't have restrooms or lifeguards, either, so it's not the best option for kids.

Pleasant Street Beach

If Forest Beach is full, you might head to Pleasant Street Beach, a similar venue that you'll access by turning onto Pleasant Street in South Chatham instead of Forest Beach Road.

Pleasant Street Beach is smaller and has less parking than Forest Beach, but it's also less popular so you could have better luck when looking for parking. 

Once you arrive, you'll immediately experience the beach's sweeping views over Nantucket Sound, and there's a good chance you'll see some windsurfers or sailboats in the water, too. This beach is also a great place to launch a kayak if you're looking to visit the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.

If Pleasant Street Beach isn't doing it for you, you can walk to a private expanse of shore overlooking Red River by heading west along the water. You can even cross the river, depending on the tide, and spend some time at the extremely popular Red River Beach in South Harwich without paying for a Harwich beach sticker. 

Overall, Pleasant Street Beach is small and quiet but doesn't have any facilities. The venue isn't ideal for young children but remains a great place to explore some of the Cape's great hidden sites.

Jackknife Harbor Beach

The easiest place to find parking on this list is Jackknife Beach in North Chatham, and that's because you can leave your vehicle along a dirt road that leads to the water, rather than having to fight over defined parking spaces.

The catch is that Jackknife Beach is also the most challenging location on this list to find because you'll turn into an unmarked driveway on Route 28, just before Chatham merges with Harwich.

If you can find the beach, it's a beautiful place to spend the day because of its warm, shallow water. The beach is on a sheltered cove in Pleasant Bay, as well, so you won't have to worry about the issues that go along with hanging out near the open ocean.

Jackknife Beach is a popular place for locals to put a kayak in the water, as there's plenty to explore in the bay, and is also Chatham's only dog-friendly beach.

One issue is that the beach is rustic, so there aren't any restrooms or picnic facilities, but locals are pleased with the lack of amenities because the trade-off is the freedom this long stretch of sand provides.

Hitting the Water in Chatham, MA

Chatham has some of Cape Cod's most beautiful beaches, and you'll never struggle to find somewhere new to spend the day on your vacation. If you've bought a beach sticker for the week, Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Harding's Beach, Ridgevale Beach, and Cockle Cove Beach are excellent options, with some having full amenities, including dining options. 

Vacationing in Chatham is a dream because much of the town is walkable, and the beach access is among the best in the country. No matter where you end up booking your vacation rental, the water is never far in this charming location on the ocean.

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