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.

Chatham Chatham Beaches

The Top Family-Friendly Beaches on the Lower Cape
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, August 27, 2018

Breakwater Beach, Brewster Cape Cod

Vacationing on Cape Cod is all about enjoying some time in the sun, so when staying at a Lower Cape vacation rental with your kids, you’ll want to research safe and comfortable beaches for children. The majority of the Cape is family-friendly, but certain beaches attract a more teen-centric crowd and festive atmosphere, which you might want to avoid with younger children.

On the Lower Cape, in the towns of Chatham, Harwich, and Brewster, you’ll find many renowned beaches to take the kids where you won’t have to worry about parties or loud music becoming an issue.

Perhaps the best thing about Cape Cod is that there is something for everyone. Check out some of the following beaches if you’re spending some time here with the kids to ensure that you make the most of your vacation on the Cape this summer.


Hardings Beach in Chatham

The West Chatham area is home to Hardings Beach, a large oceanfront area that faces Nantucket Sound. The beach is popular with families because the water is warm and calm, making it comfortable for younger travelers. Lifeguards are on duty during the day and there is usually a food truck on-site in the summer. The beach also has a change room with showers.

When traveling with a boat or kayak, you are free to launch it anywhere outside of the swimming areas, making this the perfect place to start a day on the water. There is also a beach volleyball court, a bocce area, and whiffle ball, in addition to hiking trails nearby. Basically, it doesn’t matter how old your kids are, they’ll find something fun to do at Hardings Beach.

The beach has two on-site parking lots, and it will cost you $20 per day to park as a nonresident, or you can invest in a week’s pass for $75 or a season's pass for $175. There is a beach booth present where you can purchase parking.


Ridgevale Beach in Chatham

Just west of Hardings Beach is Ridgevale, and much like its nearby cousin, this beach features warm, calm water and has lifeguards on duty. Kids spend much of their time playing in the tidal pools here since the water in them gets quite warm, especially in periods of hot weather.

There is a large parking lot at Ridgevale Beach, in addition to a snack bar. The over-water pedestrian bridge between the beach and parking lot is a major attraction here, as it provides wonderful views of the water on a clear day. You can rent a sailboat at Ridgevale, should you feel like taking the kids out on the water for a few hours.

Parking costs the same as Hardings Beach and keep in mind that your weekly or seasonal parking pass bought at Ridgevale Beach or Hardings Beach is valid at any beach in Chatham.


Red River Beach in Harwich

Just off Uncle Venies Road in Harwich is Red River Beach, the town's largest oceanfront area and an outstanding place for families to spend a day. You’re probably sensing a pattern here, but the beach is also along Nantucket Sound, which means warm, calm water that is great for kids. The beach has lifeguards on duty and bathrooms, providing parents with added peace of mind. Once there, you’ll find that the beach has small waves and infinite shells to collect, so your kids will have plenty to do throughout their time here.

Parents will be happy with the short distance between the parking lot and the sand. When traveling with a ton of gear for your children, it's never fun to return to the car multiple times, especially if the parking area is far away. That's not a problem at Red River Beach because you can find a spot in the sand steps from where you end up parking.

One thing to remember is that Harwich has a much different parking situation than Chatham, as daily parking is only available for nonresidents at four beaches in the entire town. Otherwise, nonresidents must purchase a one-week, two-week, or full season pass. Luckily, Red River Beach is one of the four beaches offering daily parking, which you can buy once you get there.


Pleasant Road Beach in West Harwich

If your kids don't need a bunch of space, or if you're looking for somewhere a little less crowded on Nantucket Sound, Pleasant Road Beach is the way to go. This beach, which sits in West Harwich, has everything you'll need, including a bathroom with an outdoor shower and a decent-sized parking lot. The size and amenities at this location make it ideal for families with very young children.

Pleasant Road Beach is always spotless, a straightforward task because of its small size, and it slopes toward the water gradually, so you won't have to worry about steep drop-offs. There's also a lifeguard on duty during the day, and the parking lot is very close to the water.

Remember how we mentioned that only four beaches in Harwich offer daily parking passes for nonresidents? Well, Pleasant Road Beach is one of them, meaning you won't have to buy an entire week's pass when only visiting once.


Breakwater Beach in Brewster

We’ve focused entirely on beaches along Nantucket Sound with this list, so for something different, let’s look at Breakwater Beach in Brewster.

This public stretch of sand on Cape Cod Bay also features calm, warm water, along with tidal flats and pools, making it ideal for small children. When the tide is out, you can seemingly walk forever, and the kids will enjoy finding the shells left behind by various marine life. There isn't a lifeguard at the beach, however, and parents will want to keep a close eye on their little ones when near the water during high tide.

Breakwater Beach is quite large, so if it appears overcrowded at first, keep walking, and you'll find somewhere a little quieter. The parking lot is just off the sand and parents will find it easy to get to the water with little ones in tow.

Speaking of parking, you can purchase a day pass for $20 or invest in a weekly pass for $60 as a nonresident in Brewster. There’s also a nonresident season’s pass for $120, if you’ll be taking an extended vacation or visiting multiple times this summer. Since there is no attendant on duty at Breakwater Beach, you’ll have to buy a parking sticker before arriving.


Bringing Your Kids to the Lower Cape

As you can see, you won’t have to venture far from your Lower Cape vacation rental when looking for a family-friendly beach. This list is merely scratching the surface of things you can do with the kids since there are other similar beaches on other parts of the Cape.

Cape Cod prides itself on being a place where travelers of any age can have a good time, and the selection of beaches up and down its shores are no exception. Take the time to research a few beaches prior to your arrival, as we all know how important certain amenities are when traveling with kids, and you can be certain that your vacation on the Cape is something you’ll always remember.

Breakwater Beach Brewster Brewster Brewster Beaches Chatham Chatham Beaches Hardings Beach Chatham Harwich Harwich Beaches Pleasant Road Beach Harwich Red River Beach Harwich Ridgevale Beach Chatham

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