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Updated: April 22, 2023
Chatham beaches range from expansive strands on the wild and crashing Atlantic Ocean, to small family-friendly beaches on the sedate waters of Nantucket Sound.
The Sound-side beaches are wonderful for small children, beach sports and relaxing afternoons.
But it's the Ocean beaches that you'll photograph over and over and remember for years to come.
Lifeguards, restrooms, shower facilities, and food concessions (on-site or mobile) are available at some Chatham beaches in season only.
See individual beach descriptions and handicap accessibility information below for details.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, at most beaches in Chatham non-residents may park only by paying a daily fee or showing a weekly pass issued by the town. Seasonal passes are also available.
Click here for beach parking fee and pass information.
If you asked me to name one beach in Chatham that's a "must-visit", I'd have to say Chatham Light Beach, for sure!
This beautiful beach is right in front of Chatham Lighthouse. (It's also referred to as "Chatham Lighthouse Beach" or just "Lighthouse Beach".)
With its dangerous currents, major drop-offs from sand to sea, and summertime shark sightings - this is not the best swimming beach in town.
In fact, swimming is highly restricted here and sometimes not allowed at all, for just those reasons.
However, this enormous and ever-changing shoreline is perfect for hanging out in a beach chair, watching for seals, and long romantic walks.
The scenery at Chatham Light Beach is, in a word: Phenomenal!
>> Read about: Guided tours of Chatham Light and other lighthouses on Cape Cod.
Looking for a nice beach that's away from the crowd?
Check out Forest Beach!
This is one of the more quiet beaches in town (relatively speaking).
In addition to swimming and sunning, this is also a great place to view local wildlife and gather a bucketful of beautiful shells.
Families with small children love this beach!
Ridgevale Beach is one of the largest and most popular south-side Chatham beaches.
One of the really neat features at Ridgevale is its little inlet creek.
The super-calm creek waters make a good splashing spot for small children, while older children and adults enjoy swimming in the Sound.
This is an excellent spot for shell collecting, too.
Tucked in between Forest and Ridgevale beaches, Cockle Cove is a small beach with gentle surf, warm water, and sweeping views.
I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing this beach might have been named for the wealth of pretty little cockle shells that line the shore.
>>See: More about Cockle Cove Beach ...
Hardings is another popular Chatham beach on Nantucket Sound.
The sand is nice here, there's a designated swim area, plenty of room for beach sports, and a walking trail that leads to Stage Harbor Light.
Just a short drive or easy walk from Main Street, Oyster Pond isn't a "pond" in the traditional sense. It's actually a saltwater inlet off Nantucket Sound.
This is a totally family-friendly beach. Little tykes can splash around in the warm, calm waters. Older kids love the swim raft. And picnic tables and charcoal grills are there for anyone to use.
The sheltered waters of Jackknife Cove (so-called because of its jackknife-like shape) are shallow, calm and warm. And the views across Pleasant Bay are lovely!
*FYI: Dogs are allowed at Jackknife Beach in the summer months. But only during "off hours" - before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
>>See: Where to find dog-friendly beaches on Cape Cod
In season, several Chatham beaches have a beach wheelchair, MobiMat and/or ramp to help visitors with mobility limitations access and enjoy the beach.
*Note - Beach wheelchair availability is on a first come, first served basis. On occasion, wheelchairs may not be available due to weather conditions or beach staffing limitations.
For more information about accessibility at beaches in Chatham MA, contact the Recreation & Beach Department at (508) 945-5175.
The Cape's Best Wheelchair Accessible Beaches
Vacation Guide: All About Chatham MA