The Beach Times

Spending the Day at Mashpee's South Cape Beach State Park
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Wednesday, January 27, 2021

photo of south cape beach

With so many beaches on Cape Cod, selecting one to visit can be a challenge.

Sure, heading to the Cape Cod National Seashore is a must-do, but what about days on the calmer waters of Cape Cod Bay or Nantucket Sound?

One location worth checking out in Mashpee is South Cape Beach State Park, a scenic venue with access to both Waquoit Bay and Vineyard Sound sitting just west of New Seabury.

This park is secluded but has all of the activities you'd want to try on your vacation, making it an excellent place to spend an entire day in the sun.

Getting There

It doesn't take much to reach South Cape Beach State Park, despite its seemingly remote location. 

The easiest way to get there is via Great Neck Road South, which intersects with Route 28 near Mashpee Commons. Great Neck Road South eventually turns into Great Oak Road, and you can follow it to the park's entrance. The drive from the highway only takes about ten minutes.

There's a dirt parking lot near the beach, and the daily fees are $15 for Massachusetts residents and $40 for non-residents between Memorial Day and November. The vehicle's license plates determine residency.

After getting to the parking lot, you'll have to walk to the beach. Fortunately, there's a boardwalk that connects to the waterfront area, making it an easy jaunt. It isn't a long stroll, and the payoff is spectacular.

What's at the Beach?

Once you get to the water, you'll have access to over a mile of white sand. Here, you can swim in the ocean, enjoy the picnic area or use the on-site grills. There's a lookout over the beach, too, which is an excellent place to take in a sunset.

You might see a few people fishing from the shore, although they'll typically move down the beach and away from the swimmers.

The water is relatively calm at this location, as well, and there are public washrooms near the parking lot.

This beach is a pleasant place for families because it has so much space, and even those who don't like lounging in the sand will find some activities to keep them occupied.

Nearby Hiking Trails

While you'll likely spend much of your day at South Cape Beach State Park by the water, there are also some hiking trails to explore.

The easiest to access is the Great Flat Pond Loop, which you can reach from the main parking lot. There are other parking areas along the road into the park, too, so you'll have a few different places to begin. The trail heads through woodlands and wetlands and meanders over to Sage Lot Pond and its surrounding salt marsh.

The other primary path through this area is Dead Neck Trail, which runs from the parking lot along the dunes to Waquoit Bay's mouth. The best thing about Dead Neck Trail is that you can walk down to a private section of the beach at any point, providing reason enough to give it a try.

These hiking trails aren't rugged or technical, but they provide scenic places to explore away from the bustle of some of the Cape's other beaches.

The Boat Launch

Finally, there's a boat launch at the far west end of the park where you can put a canoe or kayak into Waquoit Bay. In fact, this is one of the only places you can reach Waquoit Bay via car.

Once at the boat launch, you can carry your small boat to the water and explore the bay. There's also a small beach with calm, shallow water that might be worth a look if you're traveling with kids.

This boat launch isn't anything fancy, but Waquoit Bay is one of the Cape's most scenic and secluded locations, so if you have the opportunity to do some paddling there, make sure you do it.

A Full Day on the Ocean

When you book a vacation rental on Cape Cod, beaches are undoubtedly in your future. The only question is which ones you'll choose to visit because you will have nearly unlimited options.

If you're staying in the Mashpee area, South Cape Beach is well worth your time because it feels like an off-the-beaten-path location while sitting mere minutes from downtown.

As a result, you can spend an entire day in the sun at this beach before returning to your vacation rental for dinner in no time at all.

For the perfect mix of serenity and accessibility, it's tough to beach South Cape Beach in Mashpee, Massachusetts.

Beach Cape Cod Beaches Mashpee

Beaches That Allow Offroading on Cape Cod
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, June 10, 2019

The beaches of Cape Cod provide a paradise for all who visit them, but did you know that you can drive your vehicle in search of secluded spots with no one else nearby? Many residents of the Cape take advantage of this feature every year because they can escape the crowds and relax in peace on quite pieces of sand.

As a visitor to Cape Cod, you might find it more challenging to go ahead with this venture, but if you drive to the area and have a four-wheel drive vehicle, nothing is stopping you from offroading on some of the Cape’s exceptional beaches.

Here is a list of some of Cape Cod's top ORV beaches, along with the rules and regulations that you must follow.


Rules and Equipment


To access any of Cape Cod's beaches in your vehicle, you must, first of all, have a four-wheel drive truck or SUV. Attempting to drive on the sand without this equipment is a recipe for failure and will lead to you getting stuck. In fact, officials won't even let you attempt it.

Before being permitted on these beaches, your car or truck will have to pass an inspection. If you've passed an inspection in the last year, you might be spared this time around, but park employees are allowed to have a look at your vehicle at any point to make sure it meets the requirements. You're also required to have the following six items in your vehicle at all times: a tire gauge, a spare tire, a shovel, tow straps, a jack, and a support board. All of these articles will assist you if you get stuck in the sand.

Each beach has its own rules that you’ll have to follow. We’ll outline many of these rules and regulations later in the article.


Safety Information

Staying safe is crucial whenever you're close to the ocean, so make sure you follow the advice and instructions of local town administrators. You'll also want to keep an eye on the tide chart yourself, just in case you miss a warning that is put out by the town.

When driving, try to stay out of the ruts. While you'll probably want to follow the tracks of other vehicles in soft sand, as they will provide more traction, you'll want to avoid deeper ruts because they can cause your car or truck to bottom out and get stuck.

The reason for bringing a tire gauge is to monitor your tire pressure. You should lower the pressure in all of your tires to between 11 and 15 psi because this provides better traction in soft sand.


Nauset Beach in Orleans

Nauset Beach in Orleans frequently closes because of the threatened and endangered birds that reside on its shores, but if you happen to be around when it's open, there's nothing like it. You'll need to have your vehicle inspected before you can purchase a beach access sticker, which is $66 for residents and $196 for out of towners, with discounted rates available for the winter.

You can spend the night on the beach if you have a self-contained vehicle, defined here as a camper, motorhome, or trailer with a water source and toilet. The permit for taking these vehicles onto the beach costs $266 per year. Fires on the beach are prohibited.


The Cape Cod National Seashore

Depending on the time of year, much of the Cape Cod National Seashore allows ORV access, but you'll have to be prepared for closures here, as well. Vehicles are permitted everywhere from Race Point Light to Long Nook Beach, which is just south of Coast Guard Beach.

During the spring, however, there are restrictions on many places along the beach because of piping plover nesting, and you'll also see beaches closed when there are unsafe conditions or work being done to prepare the beaches for the summer. On Coast Guard Beach, you can only access the sand in your vehicle between 6:00 PM and 7:00 AM for night fishing purposes, as it's too busy during the day.

To get a permit to enter the Cape Cod National Seashore in your vehicle, you'll have to pass a vehicle inspection, have all the required safety equipment, view the orientation program, and purchase a pass. This pass will cost you $50 for seven days or $150 for the entire year. Keep in mind that rental vehicles are not permitted and you must be the registered owner of the truck to obtain a pass. If you wish to spend the night on one of the beaches, you’ll need a self-contained vehicle pass, which is $225 per year or $75 per week. Camping is only permitted on Race Point Beach, and trailers are prohibited.


Sandy Neck Beach in West Barnstable

In Barnstable, certain portions of Sandy Neck Beach are accessible via offroad vehicle. The beach is very long, and much of the vehicle-friendly area is at the far east end of the park. To reach these areas, turn right onto the trail that is just north of the Sandy Neck Gate House. This trail will take you to the dunes, which you can drive on until you reach your desired location. You can drive all the way out near Beach Point, which is a secluded area where you can find a piece of sand all to yourself.

To obtain a beach pass, you'll have to provide your driver's license, proof of address, and vehicle registration at the Sandy Neck Gate House. Barnstable residents can buy a pass for $30 for the winter or $90 for the year, while non-resident passes are $60 for the winter and $180 for the year. You are permitted to spend the night on the beach if you have a self-contained vehicle, although it will cost you an extra $5-10 per night. You can also use a tent in the designated camping area. Campfires are allowed with a permit.


Chapin Memorial and Crowes Pasture in Dennis

In Dennis, you’ll have access to two ORV-friendly locations in a relatively small area at Chapin Memorial and Crowes Pasture beaches.  Chapin Memorial Beach provides easy access to the sand through its main parking area. Once you head through the parking lot, turn left and head south along the beach until you find a spot to yourself.

At the far east end of town is Crowes Pasture Conservation Area, which is home to a long stretch of beach that is ORV-friendly. Getting to this beach is a little more complicated, however, as you'll have to turn onto South Street from the Old King's Highway. Follow South Street in a northeast direction until you get to the sand. From there, turn right, and you can follow the sand out to Quivett Neck. There are plenty of secluded spots on this beach, especially since it's not as popular with tourist beachgoers as many others in the area.

The Town of Dennis doesn't offer daily or weekly passes, so you'll have to purchase an annual ORV sticker if you want to take your vehicle onto one of its beaches. The sticker costs $150 for locals and $300 for everyone else. Your vehicle might have to pass an inspection before being allowed on the sand, and only the registered owner can drive it. No rental cars are allowed, and these beaches do not allow overnight stays of any kind.


Watch for Closures

Keep an eye out for beach closures that could impact your ability to drive on a particular beach. In the spring, for example, many beaches close sections to protect the piping plover, a threatened shorebird that nests in the Cape’s sands, most notably on the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Poor weather or damaged beaches could also lead to closures, particularly for offroad vehicles. Have a look at your desired beach’s website and social media pages to make sure it’s open before venturing onto the sand.

As long as you take the necessary precautions, you should have an excellent time exploring Cape Cod’s beaches in your vehicle.

Barnstable Cape Cod Beaches Cape Cod National Seashore Chapin Beach Coast Guard Beach Crowes Pasture Dennis Long Nook Beach Nauset Beach Offroading Orleans Provincetown Race Point Sandy Neck

Our Top 5 Beaches
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, July 2, 2018

As hard as we try, there is never enough time to see all of Cape Cod's beaches in one vacation week. So aside from staying multiple weeks, we have compiled a list of the top five beaches across Cape Cod, to make the decision slighty easier. These are the choice beach locations as voted by our fans. There are so many others to spend glorious sun hours at, but start with these for now, and plan your next vacation accordingly.


1. Race Point Beach is a popular spot among locals and visitors alike. Off of Race Point Road in Provincetown, this beach offers a scenic break from the bike path that runs through it and the occasional view of seals and dolphins. Part of the national seashore, Race Point Beach offers miles of soft sand for walking and relaxing.


2. Mayflower Beach: Located on the Cape Cod Bay, this greatly popular beach keeps people of all ages coming back time and time again. Offering a spacious amount of room to read and relax or play in the low tide, this age friendly location is a fan favorite in Dennis.


3. With family friendly sand and snack bars, Old Silver Beach in Falmouth is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. The Italian ice cart and spectacular sunsets this beach has create a fun and relaxing atmosphere for everyone who visits. Locals have been coming to this beach for years and visitors can’t wait to return.


4. Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Fondly regarded as Lighthouse Beach by Cape Cod residents, is known for a large seal population and strong currents great for surfing or viewing. A fan favorite, this beach has a great boardwalk that offers seating and a scenic escape to sit back and relax. This well groomed beach is a great spot to visit with family and friends.


5. Marconi Beach in Wellfleet is another national seashore favorite. Whether you and your family have been exploring the town of Wellfleet or just enjoying a sunny day, this beach is great to spend some time at. With plenty of space and located just under massive sand dune cliffs, this beach offers privacy and a great place to disconnect from the world and enjoy the summer sun.

Beach Cape Cod Beaches Chatham Lighthouse Beach Marconi Beach Mayflower Beach Old Silver Beach Race Point

There are Over 1,000 Ponds on Cape Cod
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, March 26, 2018

Are you aware of Cape Cod’s ponds? While the ocean gets all the glory, and with good reason, as Cape Cod National Seashore, Corporation Beach, and West Dennis Beach are unquestionably some of the most stunning locations on the country's east coast, there are other beaches in the area that should receive a little more attention.

While it’s understandable that Cape Cod is known for its oceanfront beaches and attractions, you don't have to spend the day on the seashore to enjoy the water. Locals know all about the numerous kettle ponds found up and down the Cape, but, for the most part, many of these swimming holes and recreation areas remain a secret from outsiders.

The kettle ponds of Cape Cod formed 12,000 to 18,000 years ago when the Laurentide ice sheet that once covered the area began its retreat. Ice blocks remained in some areas and, over time, left depressions in the ground that eventually reached the depth of the water table. The holes left behind ultimately flooded with ground and rain water, leaving the freshwater ponds we have today.

If you're visiting Cape Cod and want to live like a local, if only for a short while, you should know that permanent residents often head to a kettle pond to get away from the crowds and experience the peace and serenity that first made the area such a popular vacation destination.

Another great feature is that numerous vacation rentals are located near or even around these ponds, so you won't have to travel far to hit the water this summer.

The Ponds of the Outer Cape

Sitting in Wellfleet is Gull Pond, a scenic water body surrounded by pine trees. There is a dock in the water, and the pond is frequented by kayaks, making it a pretty active location. There isn't much parking, and you'll need a pass to leave your vehicle there.

There are three Great Ponds on the Outer Cape, one in Wellfleet, one in Eastham, and one in Truro. Wellfleet Great Pond has a small beach and several access points, while the Eastham version features two parking lots, each with its own beach. Truro’s Great Pond is the smallest and only has a single access point with no dedicated parking area. Reusing pond names is common on the Cape, as you'll find multiple places called Long Pond, Flax Pond, and Round Pond, but what do you expect when there are over 1,000 ponds in such a small area?

Pilgrim Lake in Orleans is a favorite fishing location because it is a decent size, quiet, and full of small bays. There is even an island in the middle of the lake you can check out if you have the time. The lake has a small beach, as well, should you want to go for a swim.

Lower Cape Ponds

Nickerson State Park, a 1900-acre area in Brewster, is full of trout-fishing ponds, including Flax Pond, Cliff Pond, and Higgins Pond. Flax and Cliff ponds provide exceptional swimming because the water is usually warm and there are restrictions on power boats. If you're willing to walk down the beach a little bit, you can remove yourself from the crowds, and you'll have a private swimming hole.

Seymour Pond sits in the area between Brewster and Harwich and enjoys a quiet, serene environment. Trees surround this pond, and although one beach accessible by car, you can find other, more private access points if you're willing to hike in. The Cape Cod Rail Trail runs past part of the pond, as well.

For pure solitude, see if you can find Goose Pond. Access to this pond means taking a hidden dirt road that's just off Old Queen Anne Road in Chatham. The road is a bit bumpy, and you'll drive through thick forest before arriving at your beachfront paradise. It's well worth the effort if you're looking for peace.

Ponds across the Mid Cape

Yarmouth's Little Sandy Pond offers the best of both worlds because it has a full-blown recreation area, complete with tennis courts, a baseball diamond, a dog park, and a playground, in addition to one of the quietest, most secluded bodies of water on the Cape. Unlike other ponds, this one doesn't have any homes surrounding it, so you can experience authentic serenity once you're out on the water.

Just up the road in Barnstable is another secluded gem called Hathaway’s Pond. This pond has a swimming area called Quiet Beach, and despite being pretty close to the highway, noise isn't a significant issue. The beach has a boat launch and public washrooms, as well.

Scargo Lake in Dennis is historically significant because it is close to Scargo Tower, a hilltop tower constructed in 1901. You can experience breathtaking views of the lake and the ocean beyond from the tower, or head to Princess Beach to get up close and personal with this favorite family recreation area.

Upper Cape Kettle Ponds

Wakeby Pond and Mashpee Pond in the Mashpee region are connected and combine to create one of the Cape's top family recreation areas. On the south end of Mashpee Pond is Attaquin Park, which features a large beach, along with a playground and boat ramp, while there is a smaller, quieter beach at the south end of Wakeby Pond.

Snake Pond in Sandwich has an extensive beach that surrounds much of the water body, with a parking area found on its south shore. If you bring a kayak or canoe, you can undoubtedly head to one of the empty beaches on the other side of the pond for an afternoon of relaxation.

Grews Pond in Falmouth is well-known because it is home to Goodwill Park, a green space with a playground and picnic areas. The pond also has a beach, so you can work up a sweat with your kids at the playground before heading to the water to cool off.

Choosing the Right Pond For You

As you can see, Cape Cod has a diverse set of ponds from which to choose, so it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a lively time for the family or a relaxing place to get away from the crowds, you can find it here.

There are over 1,000 kettle ponds on the Cape, and it’s nice to know that if you arrive at one and find it’s not what you’re looking for, there another one in the surrounding area that has your name written all over it. By looking at maps and taking a drive around Cape Cod, you might even find a local favorite that most visitors won't have the chance to experience.

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