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22 of the Best Beaches in New England

From sandy crescents to rocky coves, there’s a beach for every taste on the shores of New England.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a dud among the many beautiful beaches that New England has the pleasure of boasting. Here you’ll find plenty of the beloved, white sandy beaches that are particularly favored by families, as well as more dramatic, rocky beaches to thrill your inner geologist and quench your affinity for drama.

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Footbridge Beach

WHERE: Ogunquit, Maine

Situated on the northern portion of the peninsula across from Ogunquit Beach, Footbridge Beach is typically less crowded than neighboring spots—that could be because the beach is reached by crossing a plank bridge that runs over the Ogunquit River. The adventure is worth it though for the excellent swimming, beach combing, and bodysurfing opportunities, and there’s a modest boat launch for kayaks, smaller boats, and standup paddleboards.

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Hammonasset Beach State Park

WHERE: Madison, Connecticut

At about two-miles long, Connecticut’s largest beach beckons day-trippers and campers to its shore for superb birding—it has a large number of osprey—swimming, and sandy strolls on the charming wooden boardwalk. There’s also picnic spots, bike trails, great fishing, and the Meigs Point Nature Center.

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East Beach

WHERE: Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Located between Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge and Wasque Reservation on Chappaquiddick Island, East Beach—also known as Leland Beach—is a popular spot for surf fishing. The half-mile beach is also an excellent spot for birding, swimming, and peaceful sunset walks, but there is an entrance fee.

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Goose Rocks Beach

WHERE: Kennebunkport, Maine

A wildly popular beach in warmer months and equally as beautiful in the offseason, Goose Rocks Beach is treasured for its long stretch of clean sand and close proximity to town. Parking can be tough in the high season and permits are required, but it’s well worth the headache to get up early and snatch a spot for a glorious day in the sun at this picture-perfect beach.

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East Matunuck State Beach

WHERE: South Kingstown, Rhode Island

With well over a hundred acres of sandy shoreline, this popular beach on Block Island Sound has everything you need for a perfect seaside outing with the whole family. A beach pavilion offers all the customary facilities, including changing rooms, a concession stand, and a lifeguard tower.

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Nauset Light Beach

WHERE: Eastham, Massachusetts

Adjacent to Coast Guard Beach, this long, sandy beach is backed by tall dunes, frilly grass, and heathland. The trail to the Three Sisters lighthouses takes you through a pitch-pine forest. Parking can fill up quickly in the summer, so get here early or you may have to swim elsewhere.

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Pemaquid Beach

WHERE: New Harbor, Maine

Although not as long as the beach at nearby Reid State Park, Pemaquid Beach is a draw for families and couples looking for a quintessential day at the beach complete with umbrella, sand bucket and ice cream, all of which can be rented or purchased from the kiosk near the changing facilities and community center.

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Race Point Beach

WHERE: Provincetown, Massachusetts

One of several beaches designated by President John F. Kennedy as part of Cape Cod National Seashore in 1961, this sandy beach is well known for its strong currents, making it a popular destination for surfers and serious swimmers. Its location on the National Seashore’s extreme northern side also makes it an excellent spot for basking in the sun…all day long.

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Plum Island Beach

WHERE: Newburyport, Massachusetts

Officially known as Newbury Beach, this pristine stretch of sand is located on the 11-mile-long Plum Island where sea-swept salt marshes, sandy dunes, and—you guessed it—wild beach plum shrubs dot a largely unspoiled seaside landscape. The beach has excellent fishing, swimming, and birdwatching opportunities, and Newburyport, one of New England’s most picture-perfect seaside towns, has a vibrant food scene, historic architecture, and Blue Inn, a terrific boutique hotel.

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Reid State Park Beach

WHERE: Jonesport, Maine

One of the Pine Tree State’s rare sandy beaches, Reid State Park on Georgetown Island just shy of Bath, is a surfer’s and sunbather’s paradise. Rarely crowded, even in the height of summer, the beach stretches a mile and a half along the Atlantic, with large, undulating sand dunes and essential nesting areas for endangered indigenous birds, including piping plovers and least terns, as well as shorebirds like eider ducks.

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Salty Brine State Beach

WHERE: Galilee, Rhode Island

Just shy of Narragansett, this beach owes its moniker to a local radio broadcaster and beloved children’s television personality whose name was associated with all things nautical and Rhode Island. Fittingly, the beach is a hit with children and families with its clean, fine sand and gradual drop out to sea.

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Monhegan Bluffs

WHERE: Block Island, Rhode Island

Tucked beneath Block Island’s spectacular 200-foot tall Monhegan Bluffs, this secluded (and rocky) beach is a bit of a task to climb down to—there are 141 steps—but it’s worth the effort once you’re there for the fabulous panorama of the Atlantic Ocean (and occasionally Long Island). It’s also a great place to swim and surf.

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Jasper Beach

WHERE: Machiasport, Maine

Named after the many deep red pebbles scattered across its shore—only some of which are actually jasper—this pocket beach tucked away in Howard Cove is definitely off the beaten path. Beachcombers come to seek out the rare jasper stones among the equally red, volcanic rhyolite pebbles that make up the bulk of the beach’s rocky shore, while those seeking solitude find it in the salt marsh and fresh and saltwater lagoons that gently ebb and flow across its length.

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Sand Beach

WHERE: Acadia, Maine

At a mere 870 feet long, what this sandy beach lacks for in size is well compensated by its commanding view of the mountains and craggy shores that draw millions of people to Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park each year. Several trailheads dot the beach and lead up the surrounding cliffs, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular panoramas of the shore and beach below.

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Mansion Beach

WHERE: Block Island, Rhode Island

There’s no mansion on this secluded beach—it burned down in the 1960s and was never rebuilt—but there are massive waves for which the spot is so well known. The powerful currents make for excellent beachcombing and surfing, while crowds generally tend to be significantly smaller than at the neighboring Crescent Beach.

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Siasconset Beach

WHERE: Nantucket, Massachusetts

Situated at the island’s easternmost point, this broad, sandy beach is a great spot for seniors and those with limited mobility, as it’s one of the few beaches on the island without steep inclines. The ocean’s currents are terrifically powerful here, which makes for an excellent seaside spectacle, but not so much swimming.

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Cahoon Hollow Beach

WHERE: Wellfleet, Massachusetts

By far one of Wellfleet’s most popular beaches in Wellfleet, white sands and clear waters accompany an impressive series of imposing dunes that can be explored via two steep paths along a partially eroded, 75-foot dune. The spot also draws a large number of bodyboarders due to its relatively warm summer waters, high winds, and dependable waves.

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Great Point Light Beach

WHERE: Nantucket, Massachusetts

Situated on a narrow spit of land where the Nantucket Sound and Atlantic Ocean intersect, this is a dramatic spot for an early morning or late afternoon stroll along the popular Beach Trail, which runs along the shore, with swiping views of the ocean and Green Point Lighthouse. Birders will delight in the wide array of fine-feathered friends, including nesting shorebirds—some endangered—and saltwater anglers will be thrilled at the prospect of catching bluefish and striped bass.

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Roque Bluffs State Park

WHERE: Roque Bluffs, Maine

Largely sandy, with some pebbly spots thrown in for good measure (this is Maine after all), the half-mile crescent beach at Roque Bluffs State Park offers bracing saltwater swimming opportunities in the Atlantic as well as more temperate dips in the shallow waters of a sixty-acre pond that backs up to the beach. Wildlife lovers will be thrilled by the array of animals that can be frequently spotted from the beach, including bald eagles and rare waterfowl, such as Gadwall and Redhead ducks. The historic—but active—Libby Lighthouse, built in 1817, can be spied just across shore from the beach with a good eye or decent pair of binoculars.

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Popham Beach

WHERE: Phippsburg, Maine

Although it has suffered a good deal of dune erosion and diminishing shoreline due to natural causes in recent years, there is still a sizeable sandy stretch of shoreline at this popular spot. Beachcombers flock here for the treasures left by dramatic tides and swimmers and surfers delight in the strong surf that occasionally produces rip tides.

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Mowry Beach

WHERE: Lubec, Maine

In the center of the charmingly sleepy village of Lubec on the US-Canadian border, this majestic Beach produces some of the most dramatic tides you may have ever seen. The effect is excellent clamming conditions and superb beach runs at low tide. A small boardwalk leads through a heady mess of fragrant rose bushes out to the shore from where you can spy Lubec’s famous spark plug-style lighthouse, also known as the Lubec Channel Lighthouse, as well as its Canadian neighbors.

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Wasque Beach

WHERE: Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

The pristine white sands of this 200-acre-nature reserve in Chappaquiddick Island attract all kinds of beach lovers—swimmers, walkers, casual hikers, and ocean anglers. Anglers welcome the opportunity to try their hand at catching bluefish and striped bass, while casual hikers are drawn to the rare sand barrens that run about a half mile along the beach. There’s also a wide array of wildlife including migrating shorebirds.

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