by Jerry L.
Question: Are there any free beaches on Cape Cod?
My wife and I are going to Cape Cod for the first time in May. We're not planning to spend all our days at the beach. But we would like to visit a few different beaches while we're there.
Our vacation budget is limited so I'm hoping to find some nice beaches where we don't have to pay an entrance fee. Can you help?
Dee's Reply: Hi Jerry -
I'm so glad you asked this question! And yes, I can help.
You haven't said when in May you'll be here. If you're coming before Memorial Day weekend, it's still considered off-season. Beach fees/passes won't be required.
Let me give you the basics about beach fees on Cape Cod. Then, if you have any questions, please feel free to get back to me!
At the vast majority of beaches on Cape Cod, there are no admission or entrance fees. Anyone can use the beaches, in season or off season, for free.
There is one notable exception, however. That's the Cape Cod National Seashore beaches in Eastham
, and Provincetown
In season, the National Seashore collects a small entrance fee of $3/day for pedestrians and bicyclists and $10 for motorcycles.
Off-season, admission to all National Seashore beaches is free.
Although beach admission might be free, beach parking
is another story.
In season, a parking fee or parking pass is required to park a vehicle at most beach parking lots.
You'll notice that I said "most". That's because there are a few beaches on Cape Cod where parking is free, all year round.
These free-parking beaches
are not as well-known as the others, so they're generally less busy, too.
When Do In-Season Beach Fees Begin?
Most towns don't begin collecting daily fees or checking parking passes until Memorial Day weekend. And some don't begin their fee/sticker requirements until mid-June.
In my town-by-town beach guides, I have all the info about fees and stickers and when they're required.
You'll find those guides, and lots more beachy info, here
Avoid Beach Fees: Go During "Off Hours"
Even in the summer months, at beaches where fees, passes or stickers are normally required, you can still park for free during non-beach hours. That's generally before 8:30 a.m. and after 4:30 or 5:00 p.m.
To me, the off-hours are the best times to be at the beach anyway. It's a much more enjoyable time to stroll the shoreline, take a quick dip, and commune with nature as the sun rises or sets.
I hope this information helps. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!
**P.S. I know it's not polite to ask someone's age, so I won't. ;-)
I'll just mention that if you're aged 62 or over, you can buy an "America the Beautiful" Senior Pass
. The pass will give you free lifetime admission to National Parks across the USA, including free admission and parking at all Cape Cod National Seashore beaches.*UPDATE: 2017
The Senior Pass fee was recently increased. It's now $80 for a lifetime pass or $20 for an annual pass.
Free passes are also available for military members and their families, as well as disabled individuals.
You can read more about the National Parks passes and find other great vacation money-savers, here