15 Best Beaches in New England

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Comprising of six states, namely Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, New England is a geographical area in the northeast of the United States. While the Atlantic Ocean flows through the east and southeast of New England, Long Island Sound covers the south.

Boston is the largest city in the region and is also the capital of Massachusetts. While the northern and western parts of this geographical area are overlooked by rolling hills and worn-down peaks of Appalachian Mountains, the southeastern section is bounded by coastal plain.

New England is widely-famous for its brilliant landscapes – gorgeous beaches, spectacular sunsets, iconic lighthouses, a plethora of beach activities, several species of coastal flora and fauna, and many wildlife and nature preserves.

Having spoken about its gorgeous beaches, let us now explore some of the best beaches in New England.

1. Goosewing Beach Preserve

Goosewing Beach PreserveSource: stonely.danielle / Flickr
Goosewing Beach Preserve

Regarded as one of the most noteworthy landmarks of Rhode Island, Goosewing Beach Preserve is a one-of-its-kind beach reserve that houses a mix of barriers, dunes, and ponds, which serve as the main attractions in the surrounding area.

Goosewing Beach Preserve is visited by local and international tourists throughout the year.

Aside from its peculiarly striking landscape, the Beach Preserve is also known as the resting ground for two critically endangered bird species, namely the least tern and the piping plover.

Owned by The Nature Conservancy of Partners, tourist activities in the area are limited in terms of any loud activities that may disturb the natural habitat of the neighboring flora and fauna, however, walking around the area and observing the coastal wildlife is a fascination among nature lovers.

2. Narragansett Town Beach

Narragansett Town BeachSource: Jay Yuan / shutterstock
Narragansett Town Beach

Known as one the most frequented beaches in Rhode Island, Narragansett Town Beach sees approximately 10,000 visitors every day during summer.

The Town Beach is also famous as the best surfing spot in New England. Towards the north end of the beach lays the Pettaquamscutt River. The distance between the beach and the river can be covered by foot.

Narragansett has two modern gazebos, snack bars, public toilets, and changing rooms. Several shopping boutiques can be found near the Pier marketplace.

The shoreline also houses many restaurants with outdoor decks which gives you a perfect view of the surrounding ocean and a beautiful sunset.

Lifeguards and first-aid is readily available for visitor safety.

3. Ogunquit Beach

Ogunquit BeachSource: Esposito Photography / shutterstock
Ogunquit Beach

Ranked as one of the ‘Top 25 beaches in the United States’ by none other than TripAdvisor, Ogunquit is a combination of a three-mile-long sandy beach and grassy dunes that draw a natural barricade between the Ogunquit River and the Atlantic Ocean.

Visitors can enjoy activities such as swimming, bodysurfing, and beachcombing for shells and driftwood.

Lifeguards are available around the beach for the safety of visitors.

The parking facility is at the southern end and requires you to pay a fee to park your vehicle.

Common amenities and services at Ogunquit Beach include outdoor showers, restrooms, and picnic tables.

The middle of the beach is known as Footbridge Beach which is reachable by crossing a footbridge across the Ogunquit River. Plenty of parking space, lifeguards (only during the season), restrooms, and boat ramps for smaller boats are available here.

4. Chatham Lighthouse Beach

Chatham Lighthouse BeachSource: muffinman71xx / Flickr
Chatham Lighthouse Beach

Overlooked by the splendid Chatham Lighthouse, Chatham Beach lays under the active lighthouse that still helps in navigating traffic on the beach shore. Located in Chatham, Massachusetts, the Beach has a dynamic landscape and is the largest of its kind in the town.

The Lighthouse remains closed to public most of the year except a few days in the summer.

The Chatham Lighthouse Beach is located only half a mile from the downtown. The Beach Area offers beautiful walking trails out to southern Monomoy Island. The trails also offers spectacular views of several fishing boats and seals.

The waters at the beach can be extremely intense due to weather and wind conditions. Though most of the beach is open to the public for swimming, there are no lifeguards for safety of the public. The south tip of the beach is prohibited for swimming.

Chatham has some of the best seafood restaurants in the town.

5. Hampton Beach

Hampton Beach, New HampshireSource: Jon Bilous / shutterstock
Hampton Beach

Located in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Hampton Beach is a highly popular tourist destination and is one of the top three cleanest beaches in the United States. To make it even better, the Beach Boardwalk is one of the top 10 in the United States.

Hampton Beach was announced one of four ‘superstar’ beaches in the country, all thanks to its amazing water-quality.

Aside from its impeccable beauty, one of the most popular attractions in the area is the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom which is considered by many as the center attraction for it has been there for over a centennial.

Host to the Hampton Beach Sand Sculpture Competition since 2001, the region sees hundreds of sculptors from all around the United States who participate in this event that takes place in the middle of June.

6. Sachuest Beach

Sachuest BeachSource: JJM Photography / shutterstock
Sachuest Beach

Popularly known as the ‘Second Beach’, Sachuest is one of the most-admired beaches in Rhode Island. Best known for its swells and point break that has consistent surf, Sachuest has a 1.25-mile long, crescent-shaped shoreline.

The beach has fine, powdery sand and offers some of the most picturesque sunsets. You could spend your day sunbathing and reading a book here. Alternatively, you can try your luck at surfing.

Rhody Surf offers surfing and paddle boarding classes throughout the year.

Also, the adjoining Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge is an idyllic place for nature and wildlife lovers. Some of the exquisite species found at the park are New England Cottontail, Harlequin Duck, and Saltmarsh Sparrow. The Refuge also has shrublands and salt marshes.

7. Crane Beach

Crane BeachSource: Luboslav Tiles / shutterstock
Crane Beach

Situated in Ipswich, Massachusetts, Crane Beach is a four-mile-long beach within the Crane Beach conservation and recreation facility. The facility is also home to a naval pitch pine forest and several dunes.

Perfect for hikers, Crane Beach leads you to a five-mile-long hiking trail through the dunes and the forest.

The Beach remains open throughout the year; however, non-residents must pay an entrance fee. Residents, on the other hand, need a yearly parking sticker to access the beach.

There are concessions, refreshment stands (only in summer), showers, restrooms, and changing facility at the beach for public convenience.

During low tide, it is possible to paddle to the sand bars. Plum Island is visible on the other side of the beach.

8. Pleasure Beach

Pleasure BeachSource: Bill / Wikimedia
Pleasure Beach

The other half of Long Beach (Stratford), Pleasure Beach is the Bridgeport section of two-and-a-half mile-long Connecticut Barrier Beach. Abandoned in the 1990s due to a massive fire on the bridge that connects the beach to the mainland, the beach re-opened in 2014.

Pleasure Beach is bounded by water on three sides – Lewis Gut in the north, Bridgeport Harbor in the west, and Long Island Sound in the south.

Once an amusement park, Pleasure Beach is open throughout the year and is reachable via free water taxi.

Public facilities in the area include picnic tables, restrooms, showers, a pavilion, and a limited concession stand.

Pleasure Beach is a preservation area for endangered birds such as osprey and piping plover and plants such as prickly pear cactus and southern sea lavender. The area also has several other wildlife species such as foxes, deer, raccoons, and cotton-tailed rabbits.

9. Old Orchard Beach

Old Orchard BeachSource: EQRoy / shutterstock
Old Orchard Beach

A highly popular summer beach spot, Old Orchard Beach is a beach town in York County, Maine.

Situated on the inside of Saco Bay, Atlantic Ocean, the downtown area as well as the beach pier comprises several tourist-oriented businesses such as t-shirt shops, souvenir shops, clam shops, motels, and B&Bs.

One of the most popular properties at Old Orchard Beach is The Ocean House Hotel and Motel which was established in 1895 and is the oldest of its kind.

Another famous attraction at the beach is Palace Playland, a seaside amusement park, which was built in 1902 and is home to United States’ first carousel, Noah’s Ark. The park also has a newly built ferris wheel.

During summer, Old Orchard Beach holds a weekly firework show that takes place right on the beach.

10. Humarock Beach

Humarock BeachSource: kirinqueen / Flickr
Humarock Beach

Humarock Beach, also known as Humarock and Humarock Island, in Massachusetts, is a charming coastal village on Cape Cod Bay and is fenced by water. The Beach town can be reachable by boat from Scituate or by crossing the bridge from Marshfield.

Even though it is called an island, Humarock is a very long peninsula which can also be accessible over land by walking across a large dune or Rexhame Beach.

The Humarock shoreline is marked by several fist-sized, flattened, smooth rocks.

For several years, the beach has been a hit among teenagers and plenty of young crowds.

The long shoreline houses a little restaurant, an ice-cream shop, and a souvenir shop. There are beach houses for sale and long-term rentals. There is a small parking lot but it requires a beach parking pass, a limited number of these passes are available for non-residents.

11. Joseph Sylvia State Beach

Joseph Sylvia State BeachSource: -- Green Light Images -- / Flickr
Joseph Sylvia State Beach

Also known as ‘State Beach’, Joseph Sylvia State Beach is a well-liked beach, especially among families due to its gradual slope into deeper water and small waves. On a normal summer day, the adjacent parking gets full as early as 10 in the morning.

The two-mile-long State Beach houses a wide variety of nesting birds such as the American oystercatcher and the piping plover. Fishing is an actively-enjoyed sport here and the big bridge is the best spot for bait-fishing. For night fishing activities, both Sengekontacket Pond shoreline and the Nantucket Sound shoreline are good.

Swimming, Walking, Kiteboarding, and Windsurfing are other popular tourist activities around the area.

The Edgartown section of the beach has lifeguards while the entire beach area has a lot of public amenities such as food stands and restrooms.

12. Roger Wheeler State Beach

Roger Wheeler State BeachSource: RI State Parks / Flickr
Roger Wheeler State Beach

Once known as Sand Hill Cove, Roger Wheeler State Beach was established in August 1970. A state-operated recreation area, the State Beach is in Rhode Island.

Visitors at the beach enjoy swimming and picnicking while there is a playground for kids to enjoy. Trained lifeguards patrol the area.

Facilities at the beach include a pavilion, over 60 picnic tables, a concession building, coin-operated hot showers, a watchtower for lifeguards, a large pavilion parking lot, and an environmental education area.

Named for Captain Roger W. Wheeler, creator of Rhode Island State Life-Saving System, the State Park attracts all kinds of visitors but is specifically liked by families.

13. Short Sands Beach

Short Sands Beach, MaineSource: InAweofGod'sCreation / Flickr
Short Sands Beach, Maine

Another marvel in New England’s list of family-friendly beaches, Short Sands Beach makes you want to return to the beauty of its coastline every year.

The beach is open to the public throughout the year and all day so you can visit anytime. Some spots along the coastline are shaded while others are perfect for lizard-like sunbathing.

The moderately warm temperature of the water provides ample opportunities for swimming. During high tide, the beach area is frequented by surfers.

During summer, Short Sands Beach hosts a lot of concerts and events at the gazebo.

There are plenty of elegant restaurants around the beach area while other public amenities such as restrooms and showers are open for public use.

14. Easton’s Beach

Easton’s BeachSource: KYPhua / shutterstock
Easton’s Beach

Known as First Beach by many, Easton’s Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Newport, Rhode Island. The beach is ¾-mile-long and is famous for its boardwalk and surfing scene.

The picturesque sandy, white beach is a popular spot for beach weddings. The Save the Bay Exploration Centre and Aquarium and a dreamy carousel from the 1950s make a visit to the beach even more fruitful.

There are rental stores around the beach that provide lounge chairs, umbrellas, and boogie boards. Other basic beach items such as buckets and pail, towels, and sunscreen can be bought at these shops as well.

Although some facilities are seasonal, restrooms, shade pavilion, picnic area, grilling stations, snacks bars, indoors and outdoors shower, and a couple of parking lots are available around Easton’s Beach.

15. Clay Head Preserve

Clay Head PreserveSource: ARENA Creative / shutterstock
Clay Head Preserve

Located within an expanse of 190-acre preserve known as the Clay Head Preserve, the beach here is as striking as it can get. In fact, it is known to have some of the best sceneries on the eastern end and is a photographer’s paradise.

The privately-owned preserve is highly popular for its variety of migratory songbirds such as barn owl, yellow-crowned night heron, and northern harrier in the fall.

A 1/3-mile-long trail runs east towards the sea while the charming Littlefield Farm sits on the background. Clay Head Swamp falls on your right. When walking on the trail, you will reach an intersection which leads you the beach if you take right and above clay bluffs if you turned left. Known as the ‘maze’, random trails appear on the left away from the ocean and are perfect for hours of clueless wandering.


15 Best Beaches in New England:

  • Goosewing Beach Preserve
  • Narragansett Town Beach
  • Ogunquit Beach
  • Chatham Lighthouse Beach
  • Hampton Beach
  • Sachuest Beach
  • Crane Beach
  • Pleasure Beach
  • Old Orchard Beach
  • Humarock Beach
  • Joseph Sylvia State Beach
  • Roger Wheeler State Beach
  • Short Sands Beach
  • Easton’s Beach
  • Clay Head Preserve