Public beaches in Eastham include two spacious stretches on the Atlantic Ocean, along with a number of smaller beaches on Cape Cod Bay.
On the Ocean-side beaches, the waves are big and surf-worthy, the water's cold, and the dunes are imposingly tall. It's breathtaking!
On the town's Bay-side beaches, it's a whole different world.
Eastham's Cape Cod Bay beaches are especially good for families with small children, thanks to the temperate waters, gentle surf, and miles of sand flats and tidal pools that provide great splashing and exploring at low tide.
Lifeguards, shower/rinse-off, and bathroom facilities are available (in season only) at the National Seashore beaches in Eastham.
See the beach descriptions below for details.
Cape Cod National Seashore beaches are open to everyone, year round.
During the season, there's a $20 per day beach parking fee, a $10 fee for motorcycles, and a $3 entrance fee for anyone who comes to the beach by bike or on foot.
When Parking/Entrance Fees Are Charged
- Weekends and holidays from late May to late June.
- Every day from late June through Labor Day.
- Weekends and holidays from Labor Day to Columbus Day
- In the off season, it's all free!
Special Parking and Entrance Passes
There are several passes that'll give you free or reduced-price entry to Cape Cod National Seashore beaches.
National Seashore Season Pass - $60
Interagency Senior Pass - $10 (one-time fee)
Interagency Access Pass for permanently disabled persons - FREE
Coast Guard Beach
Coast Guard Beach is routinely voted one of the "Top 10 Beaches" in the USA. In 2010 it was #7 on Dr. Beach's Top 10 list ... two places ahead of Hamoa Beach in Maui, Hawaii!
As with all Atlantic Ocean beaches on the New England coastline, the water is chilly, even in mid-summer. Actually, it's downright cold ... upper 50s to low 60s.
But that doesn't deter hearty swimmers, surfers and boogieboarders from plunging into the rolling waves and sparkling clear water.
For those who prefer to stay warm and dry, Coast Guard Beach is also phenomenal for long walks. Head south (to your right as you face the water) toward Nauset Inlet, and keep your eyes open for seals in the surf just off the shoreline!
Not to be confused with Nauset Beach in Orleans, this Cape Cod National Seashore beach is Nauset Light Beach - named for the lighthouse that stands guard about 300 feet inland from the bluff.
Nauset Light Beach is about a mile north of Coast Guard Beach, and shares many of the same attributes - beautiful sand, good surf, cold water, and lots of room.
This is one of the best beaches in Eastham for snapping some amazing photos. If you stand at the viewing area near the parking lot, you'll have a great vantage point for shots of the lighthouse and the ocean vista from atop the dune.
** SPECIAL NOTE - Nauset Lighthouse is open for free tours several days each week, from early May through late October. Click here for the lighthouse tour schedule.
A few of the town-managed beaches in Eastham have (seasonal) lifeguards, bathhouses, food, etc., but many do not.
In each description below, you find a listing of the services and amenities available at that beach.
Like the National Seashore beaches, Eastham's town-owned beaches are also open to everyone, year round.
Seasonal Beach Parking Fees
The town charges for parking at some beaches, but not all. (See beach descriptions below.)
Parking charges are imposed in season only (late June to Labor Day). In the off season, parking is free.
Daily/Weekly Parking Passes and Stickers
Visitors may pay for beach parking by purchasing:
Daily Pass - $20
One-week Sticker - $70
Season Visitor Pass - $225
Daily passes can be purchased at the beach gate. Weekly stickers are available at the DPW/Natural Resources at 555 Old Orchard Rd., Eastham, MA, or by mail-in application. Click here or call (508) 240-5976 for more info.
Important: Town-issued stickers are not valid at Cape Cod National Seashore beaches, and National Seashore passes are not valid at town-managed beaches.
First Encounter Beach
It's called "First Encounter" because this is the site of the first encounter between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans on Cape Cod in early December of the year 1620.
This is one of my favorite bayside beaches in Eastham, with its low, rolling sand dunes and wonderful view of Cape Cod Bay. Like much of the Cape Cod Bay shoreline, First Encounter Beach features warm, calm waters and expansive sandflats at low tide.
Campground is a small beach that's popular with folks who own a home or rent a cottage in the neighborhood.
There's not a whole lot of room to spread out at Campground, particularly when the tide is high. At low tide, there's considerably more sand.
This is one of those "off the beaten path" beaches in Eastham - literally. There's a trail at the end of the parking area that leads to this small, quiet stretch of sand on Cape Cod Bay.
Dyer Prince is a nice place to spend a few peaceful hours with that special someone, or just hang out on your own watching the wildlife.
Sunken Meadow is another of the small Bay beaches in Eastham that's great for a couple hours of hanging out time.
It's not the most scenic beach in town, but it does have a good amount of space and the warm, calm waters that Cape Cod Bay is known for. That's undoubtedly why Sunken Meadow appeals to so many families with small children.
Cooks Brook is one of the smaller beaches in Eastham. But the lovely view of the Bay and the soft sand dunes make this beach well worth a visit.