The Best Free Beaches on Cape Cod

KA_Sunset_Rock Harbor_Winter_Beach_022216_026It can be hard enough to decide which beach to visit on a sunny summer day, but once stickers and permits are thrown into the mix, many just give up in frustration.

But there’s no reason to do that on Cape Cod. Even though most of the over 130 beaches here require a permit, there are a few which feature stress-free parking, sans sticker.

Here are five of them, beginning with two which are unnamed and obscure (even to locals).

Bayview Street, Hyannis Park, Barnstable

Watch the ferry boats cruise in and out of Hyannis Harbor. You’ll find some limited parking at the end of Bayview Street, directly before the left turn onto Windmill Lane. While this is far from the largest beach on Cape Cod, it’s free, has excellent views of ships and shoreline, and is in walking distance of some of the finest harbor side dining destinations on the East Coast.

South Shore Drive, South Yarmouth

Wedged between the Beach House Resort to the East and Red Jacket to the West, this set of about 20 parking spaces provides access to the warm waters of a Mid-Cape ocean beach without the cost of a permit. While it is recommend that you arrive either before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. (before/after peak beach-going hours), there are plenty of activities nearby which will keep you occupied until a space opens up, like the mini-golf courses along Route 28.
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Rock Harbor, Bay View Drive, Orleans

Stroll along the parking lot where cars are parked parallel to the boats docked at Rock Harbor. It’s even sweeter knowing you didn’t have to pay for the spot! Though the Cape Cod Bay side water will be a bit cooler, there will be plenty of shallows to explore and tons of space at low tide. Need refreshment after/during your beach day? Main Street is just a mile away.

Oyster Pond, Stage Harbor Road, Chatham

We’re sensing a pattern here: many of these free Cape beaches also come with the benefit of being in proximity to great food and shopping. Oyster Pond is no different, as it is within walking distance of Chatham’s famed main stretch of shops and restaurants. Though the views at this beach are not as breathtaking as those at seaside ones, the briny pond is comfortable and offers clean, spacious swimming space. Plus, no sharks!

Grews Pond, Goodwill Park Road, Falmouth

Kettlehole ponds aren’t just for the Outer Cape. Grews Pond is a refreshing change from all the briny beaches, featuring some shade, 12 feet of water transparency and over half a mile of shoreline. The pond is part of Goodwill Park, which features 4 miles of hiking trails, volleyball and a horseshoe setup. There is also ample parking for the amount of visitors the park receives.

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