Offering a wide range of seashore activities in one convenient location makes Coast Guard Beach and its next-door neighbor, Nauset Light Beach, so unique. And popular. Topping the A-list of beaches for experienced surfers, favored by families towing their wheeled coolers and sand toys, and attracting history buffs to buildings situated on the property, these twin beaches deliver like a garment labeled one-size-fits-all.
First in a chain of Atlantic Coast beaches comprising the Cape Cod National Seashore, Coast Guard Beach is where the Mayflower first sighted land in 1620. Three centuries later, in 1926, author Henry Beston spent a year living here in a cabin on a barrier beach where he found inspiration for his book The Outermost House.
Loved for its waves by surfers and boogie boarders, the water is regularly calm enough along the shoreline for children to safely wade. Seal sightings are frequent and you'll find a protected section of the beach along the north end where the endangered piping plover are encouraged to nest. Leashed dogs and their (unleashed) owners are welcome on a section of the beach.
Behind the historic Coast Guard Station- the namesake of this beach- and to the west of the parking lot is a bike path leading to the Nauset Marsh, where tidal flats are home to a staggering variety of migrating shorebirds and where locals can be seen harvesting quahogs from the salt pond.
One mile north along Ocean View Drive, visit Nauset Beach with its steep sand cliffs and broad beach. Parking fee: $15. On site parking lot fills up early after mid-June. Adjacent to the beach is Nauset Light, the quintessential red and white striped Cape Cod lighthouse, open for free tours three days a week.
Pack a lunch from Sam’s Deli to enjoy on the beach or, visit Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar — where the locals compete with tourists for fried clams and lobster rolls.
- Route 6 to Eastham. Right onto Nauset Road at the Salt Pond Visitor Center. Follow brown and white signs to the beach.
- $15. parking fee
- From mid-June to Labor Day, access to Coast Guard Beach is by free shuttle only. Park for shuttle in Little Creek parking area, across from the Doane area.
- Local Tip:
- Park your car for free at the Visitor Center and bike the few miles to the beach. There are tons of bike racks.
- Life Guard Protection: on duty in-season June to September 9am to dusk
- Public restrooms, changing rooms and showers available
- A handicap ramp accesses the beach and you can borrow a sand-negotiating wheelchair if needed.