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?
Updated: March 9, 2021
Dee's Reply: Hi Jerry - I'm so glad you asked this question! Yes, I can help.
You haven't said when in May you'll be here. And your timing matters.
Here's why ...
Free Beaches Before Memorial Day Weekend
If you'll be here before Memorial Day weekend, you'll find most beaches open without any charge for entry or parking.
The exception is the town of Bourne beaches
where you'll need a town-issued parking sticker to park in the town-managed parking lots. If you park without the sticker, you're likely to be fined if you're caught. (It's not worth the risk, IMHO!)
Free Beaches After Memorial Day Weekend
Cape Cod National Seashore Beaches
Cape Cod National Seashore begins charging entry fees on Memorial Day weekend.
But ... they're only charged on the weekend from Memorial Day until mid-June. Then, they begin charging every day until after Labor Day.
So, if you'd like to visit these National Seashore beaches (highly recommended, by the way!), go any weekday in May - except
Memorial Day Monday - for free entry:Coast Guard and Nauset Light in EasthamMarconi in WellfleetHead of the Meadow in Truro Herring Cove and Race Point in Provincetown
Each town on the Cape sets its own beach rules and fees.
Some towns begin collecting parking fees on Memorial Day weekend. Most don't begin charging until mid-June.
In my town-by-town beach guides, I have all the info about each town's fees and stickers and when they're required.
You'll find those guides and lots more beach-related information here
Free Beaches Year Round
Are any Cape Cod beaches are totally free to visit all year round? Yes!
Here's my page that will tell you all about Free Year-Round Beaches on Cape Cod
They're all well worth a visit!
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're eligible for a US National Parks Senior Pass
The Senior Pass gives free admission, all year long, to National Parks and Federal Lands across the USA. That includes all 6 beaches managed by the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Free US National Parks passes are also available for military members and their families, as well as for disabled individuals.
For more about the US National Parks passes, see my reply to Nancy's question, here
And here's where you'll find information and tips for parking at National Seashore beaches in season