5 Best Beaches to Bike to on Cape Cod

bike on beachSitting in traffic just to find out the only beach parking lot is full doesn’t sound like a great way to start a vacation day, does it? Enter: the bicycle. Whether you’re an avid cyclist or a little wobbly starting out, biking is a great way to get to and from Cape Cod’s best beaches. With a total of 114 miles of bike paths, you can get just about anywhere on the Cape without the headache of dealing with traffic. While most of the beaches listed below have accessible parking lots, biking is the best way to reach them stress-free.

Trunk River Beach (Falmouth)

Near the southern end of the Shining Sea Bikeway is Trunk River Beach, a rocky barrier strand that serves as a perfect pit stop along the 10.7-mile converted trail. If you’re looking for a quiet beach away from the crowds and you love wildlife then this is the place for you. It is a relatively private stretch of sand along the ocean that is hidden from all except the bikers, skaters, and strollers following the bikeway along the coast. There are no lifeguards on duty here and no concession stands, which keeps droves of tourists away and the beach’s atmosphere calm. It is not very wide and the shore is rocky, so it’s best if you’re looking for a refreshing dip during your ride, or a peaceful place to enjoy nature.

Trunk River Beach is an excellent spot for birdwatching and fishing. Overhead, you’ll spot beautiful marine birds like osprey and heron gliding over Vineyard Sound while an abundance of fish swim in the sea. If you can, bring your fishing rod because bass gather at the mouth of the Trunk River feeding on herring that empty into the ocean here. Unless it’s foggy out, you’ll be able to see Martha’s Vineyard in full view while you enjoy activities on the beach.

The Shining Sea Bikeway winds through picturesque Cape Cod scenery and connects Trunk River Beach to nearby Falmouth destinations, like Surf Drive Beach and Nobska Light. From flooded cranberry bogs to scenic harbors and muddy marshes to private sands, you’ll see it all on your way to some of the best beaches on Cape Cod. Since the bikeway hugs the coastline from North Falmouth to the village of Woods Hole, the path is only a short distance from many Cape Cod vacation rentals.

West Dennis Beach (Dennis)

The Cape Cod Rail Trail offers many opportunities to veer off the bike path for a stop at a nearby Cape Cod beach. The trail winds through towns from Dennis to Wellfleet where there are many beach homes and condo rentals to choose from for your visit. At the beginning of the trail, make a detour to West Dennis Beach, which sits at the mouth of the Bass River, to see one of the premier Nantucket Sound beaches on the Cape. When you arrive, note that the east end of the parking lot is reserved for residents only, so you’ll want to lock your bike up on the west end of the lot before staking out a spot. The lot comes right up to the edge of the beach, so you won’t have to walk far to find a place to unfurl your towel.

While West Dennis Beach is one of the town’s most popular beaches, it rarely feels crowded because it is so expansive. The fine sand stretches for exactly one mile giving patrons plenty of room to stretch out. It is well-maintained and very clean, so it is a pleasant place to lay out, go for a stroll, or take the kids hunting for seashells that have washed ashore. The vast size of the beach is important, since one end of the beach is closed from time to time during the summer due to nesting piping plovers that can’t be disturbed.

Being on the ocean-side of Cape Cod, the water at West Dennis Beach is chillier than at the bayside beaches, but the calm waters make it a perfect place to swim. Families can feel comfortable with their little ones in the water as lifeguards are on duty during the day throughout the high season. If you’re more adventurous, try your hand at windsurfing here. There’s usually a good breeze, which makes it a great place to try the sport.

Out of the ocean, enjoy the well-equipped concession stand that is open during the day from Memorial Day to Labor Day. After eating, let the kids frolic at the playground next to the snack bar or fly kites from the jetty that juts into the ocean. Before heading home for the night, take advantage of the shower facilities and restrooms available to the public at West Dennis Beach.

Coast Guard Beach (Eastham)

There is no parking at Coast Guard Beach from mid-June to Labor Day, so it’s best to pick up the Nauset Bicycle Trail at Salt Pond Visitor Center for a leisure 1.6-mile bike ride to the beach. Located in the heart of the National Seashore, Coast Guard Beach is a favorite among Cape Cod beaches. It is where the Mayflower first sighted land in 1620, and today it is frequently recognized as one of the best in America. Here, the enduring Coast Guard Station looms over sunbathers lolling in the sand and the Cape Cod National Seashore, a park of the National Park Service, manages the beach keeping it in pristine condition.

Coast Guard Beach is patrolled daily by lifeguards during the summer season, so beachgoers can feel safe in the water. It is a prime spot for swimming and the cool temperature of the water makes for an invigorating dip on a hot day. Just be aware of strong ocean currents as you get farther out to sea. This beach is also one of the most popular spots for surfers looking to catch a wave. Here, the waves are more powerful than they are at other Cape Cod beaches and are shared by surfers and boogie-boarders alike. If you’re just wading in the water, don’t turn your back to the ocean as a wave might knock you off your feet.

The beach can get very crowded during the summer months, so for a change of scenery and a quieter area, walk down the beach in either direction. Along the way, you’ll see glacial sand cliffs and you can explore the golden sand that stretches as far as the eye can see. From the shore, scan the waters for seals. There is an abundance of them off the coast and kids can enjoy spotting them on a walk. If you do see seals in the distance, don’t get too close though because it could mean a shark is nearby.

When you visit Coast Guard Beach, bring your own lunch as there is no snack bar available. There is a picnic area, though, so you don’t have to worry about getting sand in your sandwich. In addition to packing snacks, make sure to bring bug spray since greenhead flies make appearances during the day beginning in mid-July. When you’re ready to leave, you can use the on-site restrooms and shower facilities, so you don’t have to track sand back to your vacation rental.

Head of the Meadow Beach (Truro)

Located near the tip of Cape Cod on the untamed Atlantic side, Head of the Meadow Beach is a secluded spot where tourists and locals alike can enjoy one of Cape Cod’s best beaches. Its two-mile long namesake trail leads bikers down a bumpy stretch of pavement past forest and towering dunes before ending at the beach. Here, patrons will find a wide stretch of unspoiled coastline that easily connects to nearby National Seashore beaches. It is well-maintained and clean, and it is much less crowded than nearby Coast Guard Beach. This is likely because beachgoers must trek down high dunes to reach the beach.

The water at Head of the Meadow Beach warms up in the summer making it a pleasant place for a dip, and in season, there are lifeguards on duty to keep swimmers safe. A bit offshore, ever-changing sandbars form throughout the day, and attract many swimmers and waders. The sandbars create a great environment for bodysurfing and kids love to play here. While bodysurfing is allowed, keep in mind that surfing is only permitted outside the main beach area.

At low tide, trickling rivers burrow through the sand forming smaller tide pools where kids can splash and frolic. Also at low tide, you can catch a glimpse of the wreck of Frances, which ran aground in 1872 and can be seen in the distance surrounded by an abundance of seals, dolphins, and whales. Head of the Meadow Beach falls within the area’s “ocean graveyard” where there have been more than 1,000 shipwrecks. If tide pools and shipwrecks don’t interest you, participate in a rowdy volleyball match using one of the nets set up for the public to use.

If you refuse to leave the beach covered in sand, this might not be the beach for you, though. Temporary restrooms are set up for the summer months, but no showers are available here. Additionally, you’ll need to bring your own snacks as there is no concession stand at this beach. Head of the Meadow Beach is all about its natural beauty, so you won’t find lots of amenities here.

Herring Cove Beach (Provincetown)

Herring Cove Beach is one of the best beaches on Cape Cod and is a popular stop for bikers along the challenging Province Lands Trail. It is a stunning strip of sand that emerges just past Provincetown’s undulating dunes, and it is managed by the Cape Cod National Seashore. Located at the knuckle of Cape Cod’s iconic arm-shaped peninsula, the gorgeous beach here is wide and seems to go on forever. If you can, book a vacation rental for June or early July and visit when this beach is less crowded. Otherwise, expect large crowds from mid-July through the end of summer here.

There are two parking areas at Herring Cove Beach. If you’ve brought your whole family, head to the bike racks and lot on the right side as it is closer to the beach and more convenient if you’re carrying loads of beach gear. This area of the beach is also close to the amenities available to the public, which include restrooms, showers, and a seasonal concession stand. If you’ve left the kids at home and are looking for an adult-oriented area, pack up your stuff and venture to the left of the parking lot. At the end of a long path surrounded by dunes, you’ll find a clothing optional beach that adults can enjoy. It’s a fun adventure if you’re not shy or afraid of a little nudity, but be prepared to be a bit far away from the rest of the beachgoers.

Herring Cove Beach is relatively rocky for those just looking for a stroll, but the water here is unusually warm and calm because it’s on the bayside. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer season and there isn’t much undertow, so it is a safe place for swimmers of all levels to spend the entire day. Stay for the breathtaking sunsets in the evening, and spot whales breaching and seals bobbing in the distance.

If an oceanfront rental isn’t in your budget, stay in a charming cottage or downtown condo rental that provides easy access to bike paths and quiet side streets for a scenic bike ride to the beach. With so many Cape Cod vacation rentals to choose from, pick the best beach for your stay and then don’t forget your bike!

Article Courtesy of FlipKey.com

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