1. Gooseberry Island (Westport)
Gooseberry Island is a small, rocky spit of land that sits on the western side of the mouth of Buzzards Bay. It’s not just the beach that attracts people to Gooseberry – it’s the stunning views of water and wildlife.
On the island’s east side, which faces East Beach (a Westport town beach), the water is calm and warm. There’s a sandy beach here where you can launch a kayak, enjoy a picnic, or have a fun beach day with your kids. It’s also a favorite spot for locals to bring their dogs for a swim.
The scene is very different along the island’s western edge. On breezy days, waves pound the rocky shoreline, which offers views of popular Horseneck Beach and the Rhode Island coast.
Hike up a path to two World War II-era towers and enjoy a view across Buzzards Bay to Cuttyhunk. Gooseberry is also a favorite spot for local birders to view seabirds, songbirds, and shorebirds that flock to this tiny island.
If you want to spend the day at Gooseberry, make sure to get there early – the small, free parking lot fills up fast on summer days.
2. Demarest Lloyd State Park (Dartmouth)
Demarest Lloyd State Park may be one of Buzzards Bay’s best-kept secrets. With its warm, tranquil waters and shallow sandbars, the beach here is ideal for small children to get their feet wet. The park also features a grassy picnic area with charcoal grills, open space for games and two walking trails through several coastal ecosystems.
The beach is the star of Demarest Lloyd with clear water, gentle waves and a shoreline that turns soft and sandy just beyond the waterline. It can be particularly exciting to visit in the six hours before and after low tide. At that time, the lower water level makes it easy to wade to a sandbar that has formed near the entrance to the Bay beyond. Once there, younger children, accompanied by parents, will find waves that are large enough for body surfing yet gentle enough for the early elementary school set.
The park also offers options for leisurely strolls. This is an excellent spot for beachcombing. The state beach stretches nearly a mile from a high bench of sand at the river’s mouth to the park’s border with privately owned beach that extends toward Barney’s Joy point.
Apart from surf and sand, Demarest Lloyd contains two short walking trails that explore the salt marshes and woodlands complete with scenic vistas across the Slocums River. At the north end of the parking lot, pick up the Slocums River Trail, an out-and-back path that travels along rich tidal marshes. At the top of the hill, turn right to climb out on a large rock and gaze out over the beach. Or turn left to journey further through the hilly oak forest, where you’ll discover scenic views of Giles Creek and the shores of the Lloyd Center for the Environment across the river.
For a fun afternoon of hiking, swimming, picnicking, and beachcombing with the kids, there are few better spots than Demarest Lloyd.
3. West Island Town Beach (Fairhaven)
The island offers visitors a long stretch of sandy beach to enjoy. In summer, people swim and snorkel in West Island’s clear waters, lounge along the shore, and go surf fishing at the water’s edge.
Take a walk around the tip of the island, and the shore turns rockier. From here, you can take in a sweeping view of Buzzards Bay, including Cape Cod Canal and the Elizabeth Islands. It’s the perfect place to experience both sunrise and sunset.
West Island Town Beach sits next to larger West Island State Reservation, which protects more than half of the island from development. From the town beach, set off on a hike through the reservation’s forest and salt marshes. Like Gooseberry Island, West Island is an excellent destination for birdwatching all year long.
This summer, due to concerns about COVID-19, the town has closed the beach to non-residents. However, residents may still purchase a season pass and everyone is able to visit the coast via the state reservation. Off season, the beach is a popular destination for local residents to enjoy long walks on the beach, especially with dogs.
4. Onset Beach (Wareham)
If you don’t feel like fighting Cape Cod traffic, Onset Beach is your solution. This popular public beach in the charming Wareham village of Onset offers many of the amenities that draw people to the Cape’s beautiful beaches, but it’s much closer to home for those on the mainland.
Located on scenic Onset Bay, Onset Beach’s calm waters make the beach a great place for families with small children. There are restrooms on the nearby pier and great shops and restaurants just steps away in Onset Village. The beach also is home to the Onset Bathhouse, the headquarters for the Coalition’s Onset Bay Center and the base for myriad on-the-water programs for the public, including kayaking, sailing, learn to quahog classes and much more.
Onset is also a destination for fishermen. Boats leave from Onset pier every morning to go fishing in Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Canal, and anglers cast a line directly from the wharf searching for striped bass.
Onset Beach is free for visitors, though the town does charge a fee to park nearby. There is a metered parking lot located at the pier right next to the beach, as well as metered street parking throughout Onset. Parking can fill up fast on summer weekends, so get out there early!
5. Bassetts Island (Bourne)
If you love to spend your summer boating or paddling, then Bassetts Island should be high on your list to visit. Located within Pocasset Harbor and Red Brook Harbor in Bourne, Bassetts Island is a summer destination for boaters looking to enjoy the best of Buzzards Bay.
Bassetts Island is shaped like a propeller; the southern arm of the island is a sandy spit of land that stretches into Red Brook Harbor. Visitors frequently anchor their boats off this portion of the island and wade ashore for an afternoon on the beach.
If you don’t have access to a boat, you can also reach Bassetts Island by kayak or paddleboard. Locals often paddle across the harbor to the island for a fun adventure on the water. You can rent a paddleboard from MOCEAN Cape Cod at Kingman Yacht Center and head straight out onto Red Brook Harbor!
6. Old Silver Beach (Falmouth)
With its soft, white sand and clear, warm water, Old Silver Beach is a favorite for both locals and visitors to Cape Cod. This popular summer spot in Falmouth is perfect for families: the calm, shallow waters are a safe place for kids of all ages to swim and play.
Old Silver Beach offers visitors a stunning view across the open waters of Buzzards Bay to the shores of Marion, Mattapoisett, and West Island. With restrooms, showers, and a concession stand, Old Silver has everything you need for a great day at the beach.
There are two separate parking lots at Old Silver Beach: a smaller lot for Falmouth residents and a larger paid public lot. Parking can fill up fast in the summer, even on weekdays, so get there early!
7. Wood Neck Beach (Falmouth)
For beachgoers seeking an escape to nature, look no further than Wood Neck Beach. Situated at the confluence of Buzzards Bay and Little Sippewissett Marsh, Wood Neck Beach has something for everyone.
A long, sandy beach stretches down the west side of Wood Neck, offering visitors a place to swim and splash in the waves. It’s a little rocky here, so you might want to pack a pair of water shoes.
Head inland around the northern edge of the beach, and the landscape shifts to a salt marsh. With its grassy dunes and shallow tide pools, this side of Wood Neck Beach is great if you have small children in tow. Families can have fun searching for fish, crabs, and birds along the shore.
If you want to park in the lot at Wood Neck Beach in the summer (from mid-June to mid-September), you’ll need a Falmouth beach parking sticker. Walk or ride your bike instead, and the beach is free!
8. Kettle Cove Beach (Gosnold)
If it’s white sand and turquoise water you seek, look no further than Kettle Cove Beach on Naushon, an island in the Elizabeth Islands chain that forms Buzzards Bay’s southeastern border. You’ll need a boat to get there, but it’s worth the trip. On a clear, sunny summer day, you’ll feel like lingering in calm Kettle Cove all afternoon.
Kettle Cove is one of the few places where members of the public can experience the island of Naushon, which is otherwise private. Visitors with small boats can motor right up to the shore – just watch for rocks! Make sure to keep to the beach and don’t trespass beyond marked signs.
9. Moshup Beach (Aquinnah)
Set on a stunning piece of Martha’s Vineyard’s northwest coast beneath the Gay Head Cliffs, Moshup Beach offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in a seemingly remote seashore experience little more than a half-hour from the bustling shopping and restaurant districts of Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs.
Part of the Aquinnah Headlands Preserve, the fine white sands and smooth rocks of Moshup Beach provide a beautiful place to walk along the crashing waves of outer Vineyard Sound and beneath the Gay Head Cliffs. You can explore for over a mile along this shoreline: though Moshup Beach itself is only about a half-mile, bordered by private land to the southeast, the town of Aquinnah permits access to the beach below the cliffs to the north and west.
We recommend bringing a picnic and setting aside a whole day to enjoy this stretch of coastline. Get some exercise with a long run or walk down the coast, looking out for the many interesting shells and pieces of driftwood that wash up from Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay. The waves here are often larger than elsewhere on the island, providing fun opportunities for body-surfing and boogie-boarding. On calmer days, anglers will find great fishing for bluefish and striped bass from the shoreline.
If you go, you will want to head out early. The town-owned parking lot, which costs $20 for the day, can fill up pretty quick on beautiful summer days. Of course, you can always plan to travel there on a Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority bus or use the island’s bicycle paths, the bucolic Middle Road and the Menemsha bike ferry for an epic bike ride to the beach (check out this island biking map for more).
10. Church’s Beach (Cuttyhunk)
For another beautiful island beach destination, head to Church’s Beach on Cuttyhunk. This sandy thread of land connecting the island’s northern arm with the main island is a destination for both locals and tourists on quiet Cuttyhunk in the summer months.
Church’s Beach has some rocks, but its Buzzards Bay views are second to none. Gaze out for miles across the mouth of the Bay to Gooseberry Island and the beaches of Dartmouth. Cuttyhunk Island stretches behind you, with homes built into the island’s leafy hillside.
Church’s Beach is another spot that you’ll need to hop on a boat to visit. But don’t worry if you don’t own a vessel – grab the ferry from New Bedford and you can be on the beach in no time!