Can I Swim in Cape Cod?

beaches for kids in plymouth

Cape Cod provides a scenic getaway for all looking to have fun under the sun, soaking in deep blue waters and enjoying the endless beaches!lifeguard chair on beach in cape cod_swim in cape cod_beaches of cape cod

If you are newly arrived or visiting the Cape, you may want to know where you can swim in Cape Cod.  Many Cape Cod beaches are open to the public but some are private or for local use only, but some towns require beach permits for parking during specific days (Ranging from June 15-Labor Day). You will find that most beaches are clearly posted if you can swim in Cape Cod.

When you can swim in Cape Cod beaches also varies. Swimming is allowed at specific times;  many beaches open at 8am and close at sunset or 10 pm. Swimming can also be restricted during the summer season due to water quality or shark sightings and will be posted accordingly.

beaches 3In this article, we will explore some top swimming beach picks and answer common questions people have about if they can swim in Cape Cod waters.

Where can you swim in Cape Cod?

There are few swimming restrictions on Cape Cod, most is left to your judgement but warnings will be posted. Beaches are open at times ranging from 7 am to midnight. Some beaches close at 10 pm for swimming, giving people access to fishing hours at night.  When swimming in the Outer Cape and Cape Cod Bay north of Wellfleet, be wary of sharks warnings as they’re most frequently found in this area.

Some Favorite Ocean Beaches:

  • Monument Beach(Pocasset) – This large beach, on the calm protected waters of Buzzards Bay, is the only Bourne beach with available parking for non-residents. With a marina nearby, there’s always lots of boat activity. The beach’s facilities include a restrooms, a snack bar and a boat launch.
  • Sandy Neck (West Barnstable) – One of Cape Cod’s longest beaches at 6 miles, Sandy Neck Beach is popular for many activities including hiking, horseback riding, camping and off road vehicles. Limited fire permits are also allowed on the beach. Amenities include: lifeguards, restrooms, and a concession stand. Both Barnstable and Sandwich Beach Permits are honored, or a day pass is available at the gatehouse.
  • Craigville Beach (Centerville) – Craigville Beach is popular among beachgoers and surfers on Cape Cod. Visitors can obtain a $25/day parking pass from 7:30am to 3:45pm. There are lifeguards, restrooms, a large 450 space parking lot and several places to eat right across the street. Volleyball is a popular pastime at the beach here
  • Breakwater Beach (Brewster)– The waters here have a pleasant temperature of 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Breakwater Beach is shallow and not very crowded beach, making it a great beach for children, however, you will need a beach parking permit from Brewster.
  • Paine’s Creek(Brewster) – You can expect to find calm waters and tidal pools at Paine’s Creek. Waters in Brewster Flats can be around a mile away from the shore during low tide, leaving room enough for kids to play or for you to take a long stroll.
  • Corporation Beach(Dennis) – The beach has a crescent-like shape, which forms tidal pools that’s fun to wade in and look for marine life. The water is warm and perfect for swimming, an ideal family spot. Daily parking is $30.
  • Nauset Beach(Orleans) – The waves here are perfect for surfing. The beach offers a 10-mile expanse of sand perfect for a long walk on the beach. Water temps are cooler as Nauset faces the open Atlantic. Lifeguards are present at all times and will clear the water if great white sharks are spotted in the area.
  • Coast Guard Beach(Eastham) – Whether you lie on its warm sands to tan or you take a swim, Coast Guard Beach will not disappoint. This beach is popular on the Cape as it doesn’t have as many rocks underwater as other beaches. Parking near the beach is restricted to Eastham residents but there is plenty of parking and a handy shuttle at Little Creek, just follow the signs.

beaches for kids on martha's vineyardSome Favorite Freshwater Beaches:

  • Gull Pond Landing Beach(Wellfleet) – Bordered by breathtaking pine trees, this freshwater pond in Wellfleet provides calm waters to swim in Cape Cod. It also has a dock where swimmers can jump into the water. You can kayak, picnic or enjoy a long, calming dip into its pleasant waters. You need a pass to use one of the 30 parking spaces.
  • Sheep Pond(Brewster) – Sheep Pond in Brewster is one of the largest freshwater kettle ponds on Cape Cod. It’s the perfect place to kayak, paddle board or fish, but has limited parking and beach area. A visitor parking pass is $20 on a first come, first serve basis.
  • Flax Pond Recreation Area( So.Yarmouth) – The best thing about this pond in Dennis is that it’s free and dog-friendly! It has refreshing, crisp waters and a roped-off area for swimming. It also has nearby hiking trails, a playground, pickle ball and basketball courts so there’s something for everyone to do.
  • Sandy Pond (W.Yarmouth)– While Sandy Pond waters are crisp and cool, the swimming area is small but there are plenty of other recreational activities like tennis, pickle ball and basketball courts. There is also a picnic area and 2 playgrounds for kids! There are 150 parking spots but the bike trail also runs directly to the park if you want to leave the car at home.

Is it warm enough to swim in Cape Cod?

cape cod beachesCape Cod waters offer a wide variety of temperatures for swimmers.  The Bay beaches are typically warmer than the ocean. The warmest water in Cape Cod Cod occurs at the Bay beaches that fall between 60- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit during the warm summer months.

From December-March, temperatures of 39-46 degrees make the water chilly for anything more than a cold dip. The best months for swimming in Bay beach waters are July-September, when temperatures range from 64-68 degrees.

Nantucket, Vineyard Sound, and Buzzards bay’s warmest months also fall within May-August. These beaches face the harshest temperatures in winter months at 41 degrees, which slowly start to rise to 44 degrees over the spring until summers roll around, bringing in the heat at an average of 64 degrees.

Where is the warmest water in Cape Cod?

beaches for kids in plymouth warmest waters on cape codBay area beaches and beaches located on Nantucket, Vineyard Sound, and Buzzards Bay have the warmest waters. These beaches also tend to have gentler tides and tidal pools perfect for families and children to swim in. And when the tide withdraws, it leaves lots of space for long walks on the beach!

Bay area beaches can be found on the Northern shoreline in Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth Port, Dennis, or the western shores of Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown.

These beaches not only have the warmest water in Cape Cod, that falls between the upper 60s and low 70s during summers but also tidal pools where your kids can play around. According to statistics, August is the warmest month for Cape Cod beaches when water temperatures rise to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Are Cape Cod Beaches Free?

Most beaches on Cape Cod require a resident beach sticker or visitor parking pass after Memorial Day or mid- June and the price varies by town. ask for any admission fee.

You can expect to pay $25 a day when visiting the National Seashore.  The six national seashore beaches where fees are collected are: Coast Guard and Nauset Light in Eastham, Marconi in Wellfleet, Head of the Meadow in Truro, and Race Point and Herring Cove in Provincetown.

Although there are a few Cape Cod beaches with free parking, the spaces are very limited and tend to fill up quickly in the summer months:

  • Bayview Beach(W. Yarmouth) – This small beach with calm waters and a playground is ideal for children and a great spot to watch the ferry boats reaching and leaving Hyannis Harbor. Parking is free, however, only 22 spots are available and fill up early. Nearby restaurants offer a good site for some of the best meals on the East Coast.
  • Colonial Acres Beach(W.Yarmouth) – Located in West Yarmouth, the beach offers a clear view of Lewis Bay and is large enough for long, pleasant walks. You can also fish in Mill Creek. The beach offers free parking for a total of 15 cars.
  • Englewood Beach(W.Yarmouth) – This small strip of beach has spectacular sunsets.  Kids can also play around on the playground and shallow waters but there is not a lifeguard on duty. The 33 parking spots are free but popular among the locals.
  • Gray’s Beach (Yarmouth Port)– Gray’s Beach has gentle waters perfect for your kids. It has gorgeous views and provides a playground and picnic items like grills and picnic tables! It gives 50 parking spaces and several spaces for boat trailers. The parking is free after 4pm so you can take advantage of the gorgeous sunsets while strolling along the boardwalk over the marsh.
  • Oyster Pond Beach(Chatham) – This beach on Chatham is the perfect spot for families with little children. Oyster Pond is actually a salt pond on an inlet with warm waters, and no real surf which makes it ideal for small children. There are also facilities like picnic tables, seasonal lifeguards and a bathhouse. There are 50 free parking spaces.
  • Grews Pond(Falmouth)  – For a refreshing cold water swim, Grews Pond, off Gifford Street in Falmouth, offers shade and a mile-long shoreline. Nearby there are several hiking trails, a volleyball and horseshoe setup, and lots of free parking.

kids cape cod beachesConclusion

Whether you are a family looking for a relaxing day to swim in Cape Cod–tossing your frisbee and sloshing around in the water–or a surfer looking to catch some intense waves, Cape Cod is the perfect destination for you.

We hope you consider spending your next vacation at one of the beaches here. Throw one of our favorite beach choices on your itinerary and trust us, you’ll be coming back to swim in Cape Cod waters again and again! Happy and Safe Travels!





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