Tag Archives: cape cod national seashore

Oversand Beach Driving: Beach ORV Trails on Cape Cod

Tired of lugging all your stuff out to an overcrowded beach? These tips will prepare you to drive on the oversand trails at some of the most beautiful beaches on cape cod.

Learn about the beaches on cape cod with ORV access, how to get an ORV Sticker, and what equipment you’ll need.

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herring cove beach in provincetown, ma

Herring Cove Beach is the most popular National Seashore beach on Cape Cod.  Herring Cove is located inside the hook of the cape where it wraps around towards the center of Provincetown.

herring cove beach is the most commercial of all the national seashore beaches with an extensive food stand and boardwalk. great scenery and amazing sunsets keep crowds coming back. clothing optional areas facilitate a thorough tanning experience.

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head of the meadow beach in truro, ma

Head of the Meadow Beach in North Truro is the least crowded of all the Cape Cod National Seashore beaches.

Perfect sandbars and unspoiled dunes with some of the softest, finest white sand on cape cod. The vibe at head of the meadow beach is very laid back.

There are entrance paths tot beach on both ends of the parking lot, which seldom seems close to filling up. The beach offers orv trail access (which is usually closed).

Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning a trip to head of the meadow beach:

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race point beach in provincetown, ma

Race point beach in provincetown is located at the top of the cape when looking at a map of cape cod. Race point beach is simply amazing, with diverse sections where waves are gentle and sunsets are breathtaking.

This epic stretch of shoreline boasts miles of ORV oversand driving trails, spectacular views of whales and other wildlife, historic lighthouses, and amazing beach walks.

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marconi beach in wellfleet, ma

Marconi Beach in South Wellfleet, MA offers towering sand dunes set upon a seemingly endless stretch of beach that is filled with many tail-wagging dogs all summer long.

This is the largest of the national seashore beaches with a parking lot that rarely fills up.Β  Marconi has ample room for dog owners on each end of the protected beach. The beach extends to the left as long as you’re willing to walk, so even if you arrive late in the day you can get a nice open area to sit if you walk a ways.

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3 great dog walks on Cape Cod

Looking for a cool place to walk your dog on Cape Cod? Check out these 3 dog walks on Cape Cod to see unspoiled nature of the Cape at its best.

You’ll learn about:

  • an unspoiled beach walk on a remote sandy beach that includes two lighthouses in Provincetown
  • a wooded pond trail by three kettle ponds at Nickerson State Park
  • a trail showcasing all of the habitats typical to the shore around cape cod bay: upland forest, salt meadow, salt marsh, sand dune, and tidal mud flats
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coast guard road beach in north truro, ma

Walk south at head of the meadow beach (to the right when looking at the ocean) and you will pass through Coast Guard Road beach in North Truro.

This beach is managed by the town of Truro, not the National Seashore. So the limited parking area at Coast Guard Road Beach is for truro residents only, but the beautiful beach beyond the lifeguard-protected area is open to dogs. 

The ORV trails are accessible with a National Seashore oversand driving sticker.

The small parking lot at Coast Guard Road Beach in Truro is for residents only. But the ORV trail access is available to vehicles with the Cape Cod National Seashore overland driving sticker.
The small parking lot at Coast Guard Road Beach in Truro is for residents only. But the ORV trail access is available to vehicles with the Cape Cod National Seashore overland driving sticker.
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nauset light beach in eastham, ma

Nauset Light Beach in Eastham is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Nauset Light Beach is a very popular beach in the summertime. expect the parking lot to fill very quickly on weekends, plan on being there by 9am to ensure a parking spot. An adjacent town-owned parking lot is available to Eastham residents only.

There used to be steep stairs that bring beach goers down to a spacious beach which is less crowded than most other national seashore beaches because of the limited parking. But these stairs keep washing away in winter storms, so access points to the beach have been affected.

Dogs are allowed all summer long to both the right and left sides of the stairs beyond the lifeguard-protected beach areas, unless access is restricted by nesting shorebirds.

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dog-friendly guide to the cape cod national seashore beaches

The Cape Cod National Seashore are the most dog-friendly beaches on Cape Cod. The National Seashore’s dog rules allow pets throughout the summer, although access frequently gets restricted due to nesting shorebirds.

The National Seashore’s sprawling sand dunes frame endless stretches of white sand under the crashing power of the Atlantic ocean. The beaches are perfect for long dog walks, sunbathing, surfing, fishing for striped bass, and endless rounds of fetching a tennis ball from the surf.

In this articles we’ll discuss the cape cod national seashore dog rules and show you the best places to go to plan your vacation.

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What is the Nicest Beach on Cape Cod?

Going to Cape Cod on vacation and want to find the perfect beach? We’ll help you find the nicest beach on Cape Cod, including the best ones for families with kids, for dog owners, the most remote beaches, best beach sand, and some cool beaches with ORV trails.

In this article we’re going to focus on public beaches. Like every list on the subject we’re a bit biased, but these are the nicest beaches on Cape Cod that we’ve found.

The best beach for kids on Cape Cod is Skaket Beach. Located on the Cape Cod Bay, the warm, gentle waters and soft white sand is perfect for little feet to explore..
The best beach for kids on Cape Cod is Skaket Beach. Located on the Cape Cod Bay, the warm, gentle waters and soft white sand is perfect for little feet to explore..

Best Beach for Kids on Cape Cod

Our vote for the best beach for kids on Cape Cod is Skaket Beach in Orleans.

Skaket Beach has pure white sand, warm gentle waters, and lots of great areas of children to explore. Like most of the beaches located on the Cape Cod bay side the water is far warmer and gentler than the beaches of the outer Cape that face the open Atlantic.

The water recedes at low tide to reveal huge tidal flats. You can walk far into the water Skaket Beach and it will stay shallow. There’s lots of of interesting wildlife for kids to discover. Your children will love catching small fish and hermit crabs so bring a net and a bucket.

If you walk to the right as you face the ocean at Skaket Beach you'll come to a tidal river. Older kids will love floating on tubes or boogie boards.
If you walk to the right as you face the ocean at Skaket Beach you’ll come to a tidal river. There’s lots of wildlife to explore, and older kids will love floating on tubes or boogie board.

Nice sunsets here too. But bring bug spray, sand fleas and other biting critters await in the evenings.

The parking lot sells daily passes. It’s a short, flat walk to the beach area. Which is great if you’re lugging armfuls of toys.

Rock Harbor Beach is another mid-cape beach on Cape Cod Bay that's perfect for families with small kids.
Rock Harbor Beach is another mid-cape beach that’s perfect for families with small kids.

Other great beaches for families

Most towns on Cape Cod have bayside beaches with similar warm water and gentle wave conditions, so you needn’t drive far to find a great beach for kids.

Bayside beaches can be found stretching from Sandwich, Barnstable, Dennis, Brewster, Orleans, Wellfleet, and Provincetown. Anything bayside is generally much gentler and warmer than what you’ll find on the Nantucket Sound or Outer Cape beaches. Bayside beaches are especially popular for families with young children, there’s much less to worry about.

A boy and his dog playing at the beach.

The fine, soft sand at Head of the Meadow beach is our vote for the best sand on Cape Cod.

Best Beach Sand on Cape Cod

Cape cod has some nice beaches, not all of them have great beach sand. If you’re looking for bleached white sand, not all cape beaches can deliver. Many have mixtures of dark sand mixed in, so the colors are usually more of a tan than a classic Caribbean white sand.

Head of the Meadow Beach has some of the softest sand on the Outer Cape Beaches. It’s less populated than other beaches in the area, and less people generally means cleaner sand. When the ORV trail at Head of the Meadow was open years back you could drive away from the busy public beach find yourself stretches of beach without footprints. The conditions were pristine.

Where can you find the best beach sand on Cape Cod? We like Herring Cove Beach in North Truro. For a finer, whiter sand beach check out Skaket Beach in Orleans.
The beach sand at many cape cod beaches is tan due to dark sand mixed in. This sand is from Race Point Beach in P-town.

But is the sand really clean? With thousands of seals offshore, each eating (and pooping) 50+ pounds of seafood per day, the water is just filled with bacteria. This scent trail is what draws in the Great Whites. So “clean” beach sand on Cape Cod is kind of a relative term, even in areas where people don’t go often.

A chunk of pavement mixed in with rocks at Herring Cove Beach makes for some unhappy bare feet.
A chunk of pavement mixed in with rocks at Herring Cove Beach makes for some unhappy bare feet.

Many Outer Cape beaches have lots of rocks at the tideline, which isn’t ideal for long barefoot beach walks. A few have chunks of pavement from parking lots that fall into the sea.

Many Nantucket Sound beaches are mechanically cleaned to remove seaweed that accumulates on shore.
Many Nantucket Sound beaches are mechanically cleaned to remove seaweed that accumulates on shore.

Nantucket Sound beaches such as those in Dennis, Yarmouth, and Harwich all tend to have broken lady slippers and other shells. Many Sound-facing beaches have Jetties which trap mountains of seaweed with the tides, which can make walking to the water a bit challenging

Walking in a tidal pool barefoot means you should watch out for crabs!

Some of the bayside beaches have find sand. Tidal flats such as those at Rock Harbor in Orleans have soft sand that appears in cool patterns as the tide recedes. These beach areas are great for walking barefoot, but some paths require stepping through vegetation so watch out for crabs!

Worst Beach Sand on Cape Cod:

Some Cape Beaches have a silty dirt consistency. After a day in this sand your skin and towels will be covered in this fine dust. Sorry, Cahoon’s Hollow Beach in Wellfleet. Your beach is great and one of the most fun places to have a beer around a beach fire. But your sand is yuck-yuck.


South Beach provides seemingly endless stretches of unspoiled beaches.
South Beach provides seemingly endless stretches of unspoiled beaches.

Most Remote Beach

South Beach in Chatham, MA

South Beach in Chatham is a thin strip of barrier beach that extends south of Nauset Beach out towards Monomoy Island. You can only get there by boat and it’s a long stretch of beach, so you’ll have plenty of room to spread your towel.

South Beach in Chatham is a barrier island beach that is accessible only by boat.

The East-facing dunes of South beach beach stands directly in the way of the open Atlantic. Huge waves and powerful rip currents are here, which by themselves would make swimming here a big risk.

But the real risk to swimmers are the plentiful great white sharks. South Beach and the entire outer Cape is an active shark feeding ground and the abundance of tasty seal flesh makes swimming far offshore a foolish endeavor. But you’re especially remote at this beach, so medical care isn’t an option.

How to avoid a great white shark attack on beaches in Cape Cod.

The back side of the dunes at South Beach face Chatham Harbor. This is where you’ll anchor your boat, and from there it’s a quick walk across the island to the impressive outer beach.

If you’ve got a Chatham shellfish permit then bring your bucket and ring – quahogs are everywhere on the harbor side. Just walk around barefoot and you’ll feel them underwater in the soft sand, you won’t even need a rake.

This beach isn’t much of a secret, so on nice summer days you’ll likely have some company. Check out South Beach in the Spring or Fall if you’re looking for more of the beach hermit experience.


Beach naps are the best naps. To find a beach near you on Cape Cod that allows dogs check out our dog-friendly beaches guide.
Beach naps are the best naps. To find a beach near you on Cape Cod that allows dogs check out our dog-friendly beaches guide.

Best Beach for Dogs on Cape Cod

There’s a lot of dog friendly beaches in every town on Cape Cod that we love. But to pick the best one, we narrowed it down to beaches that allow pets in the summer, because that’s the most fun time to visit.

Only a few towns on Cape Cod allow dogs in the summer during the daytime. You’ll need to visit Provincetown, Wellfleet, or the Cape Cod National Seashore beaches for summer access. Of these beaches, we’re going with the Cape Cod National Seashore for visitors on vacation since they’re all very dog-friendly, sell daily passes, and most have large parking areas. But which one?

dog viewing a beach in barnstable, cape cod

Head of the Meadow Beach in Truro is one of the nicest beaches in Cape Cod, if not in the world, but it’s closed to dogs much of the summer every year due to nesting shorebirds. So that one is out.

Coast Guard Beach in Eastham is great too, but the parking lot requires a trolley ride and they don’t allow dogs. No bueno. Race Point Beach is amazing, and the ORV trails provide access to miles of beaches that are truly world-class. But the main beach and the overland driving trails all close at the start of the summer, and dogs aren’t allowed then either. Bummer.

Nauset Light Beach in Eastham usually stays open to dogs on at least one side of the lifeguard-protected beach area. As does Marconi Beach in Wellfleet. They’re all great beaches.

But our vote for the best beach for dogs on Cape Cod is… Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown.

A dog scans the horizon at Herring Cove Beach in P-town.

Herring Cove Beach has a lot going for it. A huge parking lot that never fills up, incredible drive-up sunset views, nice amenities including bathrooms and cold-water showers, and a snack bar that serves good food and beer.

The stretch of beach to the left of the Herring Cove parking lot stays open to dogs, and the dog-to-human ratio at this beach is very high. When Race Point’s ORV trails close sticker-holders get free access to Herring Cove, and a lot of people just go there. The result is there’s tons of cool dogs to meet.

One caveat: In the summer you should check the National Seashore dogs info page to check for any current dog restrictions before you go. They keep the page updated all season long so you can find a location where pets are still being allowed.

a puggle chases a bad cuz on the beach near truro, cape cod
a puggle chases a bad cuz on the beach near truro, cape cod

If you’re willing to walk a ways you’re guaranteed to find some open beach space. Just don’t walk too far unless you’re looking to find the clothing-optional beach. That one’s dog friendly too in case your dog prefers things au natural.

The sunsets at Herring Cove beach are legendary. If you drive to the right of the guard booth you can pull right up and park facing the beach for a great view without leaving your car. They stop charging for beach access around 4:30, so sunsets here are free.

sunset on a beach in provincetown on cape cod

After the sunset you can head into Commercial Street for dinner, it’s just a few minutes ride away by car or bike. Dogs are welcome everywhere in P-town, where you’ll find tons of pet-friendly food options and shopping.

Want to learn more?


Race Point's oversand driving trails are the best place to take a Jeep on Cape Cod
This kid has been talking about driving a Jeep on Race Point Beach since he was 3 years old.

Best Beach for Jeep Owners

A buddy with a Jeep asked me this question the other day: “What’s the nicest beach on Cape Cod to drive my Jeep?” This was pretty easy to answer, since most of the potential oversand driving trail options have such limited beach access in the summer due to piping plovers.

race point light in provincetown
Race Point Lighthouse is right on the beach trail that leads you out to the beach.

The winner is the ORV Trails of Race Point Beach. It’s a great place to drop some air from your tires and bounce around. Access is usually available through mid-June, then restricted until later in the summer. In recent years it’s much worse than it used to be, so the majority of beach is closed to people for most of the summer.

This view of Hatches Harbor at Race Point Beach is accessible only by driving on the oversand trails.
This view of Hatches Harbor at Race Point Beach is accessible only by driving on the oversand trails.

Other contenders for nicest beach on Cape Cod to drive a Jeep were the ORV Trails at Nauset Beach (access restricted starting in early June heavily due to nesting shorebirds) and the ORV Trail at Head of the Meadow Beach (access restricted indefinitely due to shorebirds and tough terrain). The National Seashore ORV sticker also gives you access to other oversand driving trails at High Head Road and at Coast Guard Road Beach in Truro.

So if you’re looking to get your Jeep on a beach on some trails on Cape Cod, head to P-town in early June or late August and let the party begin. The later in the season you go the more miles of shoreline trails will be open.

If you are visiting in the offseason or don’t mind shelling out a few hundred bucks for a sticker you can’t use, check out Nauset Beach too.

A swarm of birds flying over the ORV Trail at Race Point Beach could spell trouble for Jeep Owners without wide-brimmed hats.
A swarm of birds flying over the ORV Trail at Race Point Beach could spell trouble for Jeep Owners without wide-brimmed hats.