Barges Beach lies on a spit of land called Canapitsit Neck, which stretches out from the eastern end of Cuttyhunk like a long finger reaching for the edge of Nashawena Island. Nearly a mile of mixed cobble and sand shoreline lined with dunes provides an incredible place to walk, fish, beachcomb, swim, and take in stunning views of Martha’s Vineyard and the vast Atlantic beyond.
In some places along the shoreline of Barges, you’ll notice large pieces of eroded wood and twisted metal emerging from beneath the sand. This beach gets its name from 14 wooden barges buried on this shoreline in 1949, in an effort to stabilize land damaged by a 1944 Nor’easter. These barges are slowly being worn away by the ocean, creating a stunning natural art exhibit and a unique place for nature photography. (As you explore around the barges, be cautious of sharp or rusty metal that may be exposed.)
Barges Beach is accessible by several sandy paths through the dunes. Though privately held, the owners of Barges Beach permit the public to access the majority of the shoreline. Please respect private property and do not enter the dune paths at the far eastern end of Canapitsit Neck.
The Buzzards Bay Coalition is currently working to raise the funds needed to purchase this beach for permanent conservation. Learn more about the effort to preserve Barges Beach and Canapitsit Neck on the Cuttyhunk Conservation Project page.
Habitats & Wildlife
The low dunes along Canapitsit Neck form exceptional bird habitat. In addition to common shorebirds like gulls, plovers, terns, and sandpipers, keep an eye out for more uncommon visitors: birders know Cuttyhunk Island as an extraordinary place to spot rare and unusual birds. The island’s location between the Atlantic and Buzzards Bay makes it a perfect stopover for migratory species, as well as a haven for southerly birds blown north by storms.
Offshore, the waters around Cuttyhunk Island are known for spectacular fishing. Cuttyhunk is a mecca for striped bass, and Barges Beach’s dynamic shoreline is a great place to surfcast for one of these famously massive fish.