Boaters looking for a wild-feeling place will love Tarpaulin Cove Beach, located on the Vineyard Sound side of Naushon Island. This large cove has plenty of room for boats to anchor – just watch out for strong winds from the south and east. Snorkelers will find fish, crabs, and maybe even sea stars hiding among the rocks of an old jetty near the beach’s southern end.
Swim or paddle ashore, and you’ll find a pebbly beach that stretches for almost three-quarters of a mile. It’s perfect for a long, slow beachcombing walk. The views here are straight out of the 19th century, including an old farmhouse, rambling stone walls, and the historic Tarpaulin Cove Lighthouse in the distance. (There is no public access to the lighthouse.)
When you visit Tarpaulin Cove Beach, please respect the island’s residents by following all posted rules. Do not trespass inland from the beach or beyond the jetty before the farmhouse. If you have a dog with you, keep it under your control at all times. Keep the beach clean by carrying out any trash. No fires or overnight camping allowed. Tarpaulin Cove Beach is one of three Naushon beaches (along with West Beach next to Robinsons Hole and Kettle Cove Beach on Buzzards Bay) where members of the public are welcome.
Habitats & Wildlife
Oak woods provide a lush backdrop to Tarpaulin Cove Beach, particularly in early fall. Quiet visitors may spot deer emerging from these private woodlands, and even a few of the island’s resident cows wading into the shallows!
Grass-covered sand dunes line the back edge of all Naushon’s beaches. These fragile dunes create a natural barrier between the Bay and the private oak forests beyond. Please stay off the sand dunes to protect them.
Offshore, large rocks along the bottom of Tarpaulin Cove attract marine wildlife of all sizes — including a variety of sportfish for anglers to pursue. Fluke, black sea bass, and large scup are just a few of the species you might catch from this cove in summer through early fall, while bonito and false albacore migrate past in the fall.