If you’re looking for one of the best beaches on the Cape with soft sand, gorgeous views of the sea and dunes, along with beautiful swimming and strong waves to surf and boogie board, Coast Guard Beach in Eastham Massachusetts is your spot.
Coast Guard Beach is a classic Cape Cod beach with plenty of sand, dunes and sun to bring a blanket, chairs and other beach accessories to settle in and spend the day working on your tan.
This beach is one of the best places to witness the constantly morphing geography of the Cape from erosion and weather patterns.
From the main beach, you can walk down to “the spit” as locals call Nauset Spit, the small waterway that connects Nauset Marsh to the Atlantic Ocean and separates this beach from the northern tip of Nauset Beach.
From the spit, you can stroll the inlet side of the beach to see the cove, along with plenty of seals. The scenery is, quite simply, epic.
Named for the former coast guard station (now closed to the public), this long stretch of beach is extremely popular and often packed during the summer months.
- Visitor Pro-Tip: Don’t pack too heavily for this beach—lugging a ton of beach toys and extra coolers on the shuttle is no fun. Bring your lighter umbrella and chair, or just a towel!
- Resident Pro-Tip: In season, there are often Ranger tours and other activities that end at 11am, so you can get one of those coveted resident parking spots closer to the water at around 11:30am after these folks disperse.
- Best arrival time: Earlier the better because the beach can get busy during peak seasons. Although if you are not looking to spend the day, 4pm is a great time to arrive because families are packing up to leave, and the usually crowded sand opens up. In the summer months, you still have hours of light left if you arrive in the late afternoon, and you can take a walk to the inlet side to catch a great sunset.
- Swimming/Surfing: the water really is the best here
- Biking: If you’re into biking, this is the perfect beach at the end of your trail
- Seals: If you want to see seals, Coast Guard won’t disappoint, but be aware that where there are seals… (you know what eats seals, right?) Be sure to pay attention to shark warnings and stay out of the water when the red flag is up
- Scenery: There are very few beaches where you can get a view of the ocean, the spit, and the marsh all at once
- Parking: The shuttle system might be a turnoff for some visitors although it really isn’t that much of an inconvenience.
- Crowds: You can’t have an incredible Cape Cod beach without the summer crowds that flock to it. See some of the pro-tips above for good arrival times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any entrance or parking fees?
Coast Guard Beach is one of six beaches on the Cape managed by the National Park Service as part of Cape Cod National Seashore. All visitors (on bike, on foot or by car) must pay an entrance fee during the season.
Off season, the beach is open and free, but the bathrooms are not!
According to the park service website, current fees are:
- $25 per car
- $20 per motorcycle
- $15 per person on bike or pedestrian
However, if you plan to go a few times, or if you’re on the Cape for the summer and want to visit more CCNS beaches, it’s worth investing in a $60 annual beach pass, which covers entry to all six beaches for the whole year.
Please Note: Active duty military that have proper ID and their dependents, and children under the age of 16 DO NOT have to pay any entrance fees.
How do I get to the beach and where do I park?
If you’re driving:
In season (June through September), a small front parking lot within walking distance to the beach is reserved for Eastham residents only and those with a handicap placard.
The general public parks in a lot further away and is transported to the beach via a free shuttle (well, free with your entrance pass). By all accounts, the shuttle is easy to use and reliable, so the system works!
In order to get there, head down Route 6 east. Look for the brown sign that says National Seashore Beaches. Take a right and follow the signs for Coast Guard Beach parking. You can catch the shuttle from there.
On bike or by foot:
The beach is easily accessible from the recently paved Nauset Bike Trail, which runs one mile from the Salt Pond Visitor’s Center straight out to Coast Guard Beach.
Are restrooms, changing rooms and showers available?
Yes, Coast Guard Beach has restrooms and changing rooms available for visitors. These facilities are well-maintained, handicap accessible, and located close to the beach area. The restrooms have sinks, toilets, and running water and are cleaned regularly. The changing rooms offer privacy for changing into or out of beach attire. In addition, there are showers right by the entrance to the beach to quickly get the sand off before heading back to your car.
Is there any food or concession stands available?
Unfortunately no. Make sure to pack a lunch (or dinner for you latecomers). There’re some great eats in Eastham… but none on this beach.
Are dogs allowed?
Unlike many other beaches, Coast Guard Beach does allow dogs on a leash, but you should check with the park service to make sure there are no current restrictions to accommodate for the nesting plovers—you never know when those plovers will change conditions at any beach on the Cape!
Is the beach handicap accessible?
Yes! Coast Guard is fully equipped for handicapped persons, from the easy handicap parking to the wheelchair-accessible rampway down to the beach.
Fun Facts About Coast Guard Beach
Coast Guard beach is actually the site of the first landing of the Mayflower! They didn’t hang out here long before realizing they’d docked just a wee bit north of Virginia, so they headed back out to sea to set a course southeast. Once the ship became enmeshed in the shoals off the coast of the cape, though, they turned back north and found safe harbor at Plymouth Rock.
If you’re making a day of it, you can hit this great beach to catch a wave or soak up the sun, then head just one mile north to Nauset Light beach and see the lighthouse. The Three Sisters lighthouses are also just inland from Nauset Light, so there’s tons to see if you want to spend your whole day in Eastham!