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Chatham Beaches

Chatham beaches range from expansive strands on the wild and crashing Atlantic Ocean, to small family-friendly beaches on the sedate waters of Nantucket Sound.

The Sound beaches are wonderful for small children, beach sports and relaxing afternoons. 

But it's the Ocean beaches that you'll photograph over and over and remember for years to come.

Lighthouse Beach - Chatham, MA



COVID-19 guidelines are in effect. Social distancing is required. Beach services and facilities (parking, lifeguards, food concessions, etc.) may be limited at this time.

Chatham Beaches: General Information

Beach Services & Amenities

Lifeguards, restrooms, shower facilities, and food concessions (on-site or mobile) are available at some Chatham beaches in season only

See individual beach descriptions below for details.

Beach Parking Fees & Stickers

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, at most beaches in Chatham non-residents may park only by daily fee ($20) or weekly pass ($75), paid at the beach entrance. Seasonal passes ($175) are also available.

Click here or call (508) 945-5180 for information.

The Best Beaches in Chatham MA

This icon indicates that the beach is accessible to people with disabilities via a boardwalk, ramp, Mobi-Mat, or beach wheelchair.

The Best Wheelchair Accessible Beaches on Cape Cod

Chatham Light Beach

If you asked me to name one beach in Chatham that's a "must-visit", I'd have to say Chatham Light Beach, for sure.

This is the beach that's right in front of Chatham Lighthouse. (It's also referred to as "Chatham Lighthouse Beach" or just "Lighthouse Beach".)

Granted, with its dangerous currents, major drop-offs from sand to sea, and summertime shark sightings - this is not a swimming beach. In fact, swimming is highly restricted here and sometimes not allowed at all, for just those reasons.

However, this enormous and ever-changing beach is perfect for hanging out in a beach chair, watching for seals, and long romantic walks.

The scenery at Chatham Light Beach is, in a word:  Phenomenal!

  • Body of Water: Atlantic Ocean

  • Crowd Factor: Busy during the summer, but so large that you won't feel crowded.

  • Amenities: None

  • Location: About 1/2 mile from downtown Chatham on Shore Road, just across the street from Chatham Lighthouse

  • Parking: Small parking area with a 30-minute limit. If you're planning to stay longer than a half hour, it's best to park in town and take the shuttle (from Eldredge Taxi on Main Street), walk, or bikeride to Lighthouse Beach.

    (Note: In season, a beach parking pass is required for roadside parking on Bridge Street.)

  • Extremely Important: As I said above, the waters off Lighthouse Beach can be trecherous. Be sure to pay close attention to all posted warnings, and always make safety your #1 priority.

Forest Beach

Ask any local to suggest a nice beach that's away from the crowd, and they'll probably mention Forest Beach.

This is one of the more quiet beaches in town. In addition to the usual swimming and sunning, this is also a great place to view local wildlife and gather a bucket of beautiful shells.

Families with small children love this beach!

  • Body of Water: Nantucket Sound

  • Crowd Factor: Quiet

  • Amenities: None, except an ice cream truck that comes by daily during the summer.

  • Location: At the end of Forest Road (off Rt. 28) in South Chatham, MA.

  • Parking: The lot is very small, but parking is free.

Cockle Cove Beach

Tucked in between Forest and Ridgevale beaches, Cockle Cove is a small beach with gentle surf, warm water, and sweeping views.

I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing this beach might have been named for the wealth of pretty little cockle shells that line the shore.  [Photos and more info about Cockle Cove Beach ...]

  • Body of Water: Nantucket Sound

  • Crowd Factor: Rarely crowded.

  • Amenities: Lifeguard and porta-potty (in season). 

  • Parking: Small-ish parking lot. Daily fee or pass/sticker required.

Ridgevale Beach

Ridgevale Beach is one of the largest and most popular south-side Chatham beaches.

One of the really neat features at Ridgevale is its little inlet creek. The super-calm creek waters make a good splashing spot for small children, while older children and adults enjoy swimming in the Sound.

This is an excellent spot for shell collecting, too.

  • Body of Water: Nantucket Sound

  • Crowd Factor: Busy on prime beach days, but plenty of room to spread out.

  • Amenities: Lifeguards, food concession, restroom facilities.

  • Parking: Medium-sized parking lot. Daily fee or pass/sticker required.


Hardings Beach

Hardings is another popular Chatham beach on Nantucket Sound.

The sand is nice here, there's a designated swim area, plenty of room for beach sports, and a walking trail that leads to Stage Harbor Light.

  • Body of Water: Nantucket Sound

  • Crowd Factor: Moderately busy in the summer months

  • Amenities: Lifeguards, restroom and shower facilities, food vendor trucks. Mobi-Chair available at lifeguard station.

  • Location: Barn Hill Road (off Rt. 28) to Harding's Beach Road

  • Parking: Good sized parking lot. Daily fee or pass/sticker required.

Note: Active and retired US Military personnel are given free access to Harding's Beach with a valid military photo ID

Oyster Pond Beach

Just a short drive or easy walk from Main Street, Oyster Pond isn't a "pond" in the traditional sense. It's actually a pretty, saltwater inlet off Nantucket Sound.

This is a totally family-friendly beach. Little tykes can splash around in the warm, calm waters. Older kids love the swim raft. And picnic tables and charcoal grills are there for anyone to use. 

  • Body of Water: Oyster River/Nantucket Sound

  • Crowd Factor: Very busy in the summer months

  • Amenities: Lifeguards, restrooms, swim raft, picnic tables, charcoal grills

  • Location: Emery Field and Apples Way

  • Parking: Small (about 40 spaces) parking lot. No fee or pass/sticker required.

Fun Fact: Oyster Pond Beach is a popular spot on New Years Eve, too. It's the site of Chatham's famous First Night fireworks display

Related Pages:

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Vacationing in Chatham MA

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