Beaches of Cape Ann

The carefree hot summer days with warm sand, surf and endless ice cream may have come to an end but with the abundance of beautiful beaches on Cape Ann, the colder months are still great for a crisp beach walk or sightseeing. You may find a new hidden gem to keep coming back to all year!

Essex Beaches

Crane Beach

Crane Beach on the Crane Estate

Managed by The Trustees, Crane Beach in Ipswich is regarded as a national model for balancing conservation of diverse natural habitats and wildlife with the management of active public recreation. Crane’s white sands and dunes stretch for miles along the shore of Ipswich Bay from the mouth of the Ipswich River to the north to Essex River and Bay at its southern end. Together with the adjacent maritime forest, Crane Beach and Reservation encompass over 1,200 acres of breathtaking natural beauty.

To learn more about Crane Beach, please visit here.

Gloucester Beaches

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Good Harbor Beach

With shining white sand stretching out into the Atlantic and picturesque views of Thacher Island’s twin lights, Good Harbor Beach is one of the most popular on Cape Ann. At low tide, one can take a leisurely stroll out to Salt Island while at any tide one can enjoy great swimming and body surfing. Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

  • Restrooms and showers are open from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. daily. 
  • Parking is available during the week at a rate of $30 per vehicle 8 a.m.–3 p.m., $20 from 3–5 p.m.; and on the weekends and holidays at $35 per vehicle 8 a.m.–3 p.m., $25 from 3–5 p.m. Non-resident parking is limited so arrive early to get a parking space, especially during the summer months. Gates open at 8 a.m. and are locked at 9 p.m. The beach is handicapped accessible. 

Route 127A (Thatcher Road)

Wingaersheek Beach

Hugging the shore of the Annisquam River and extending out toward Ipswich Bay, Wingaersheek Beach is a long expanse of sand, dunes and tidal flats with a warm and cozy charm. Adults and kids alike enjoy exploring the numerous tidal pools and climbing the large rocks that adorn the beach. A long sandbar is exposed at low tide and makes for a perfect beach stroll. Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

  • Restrooms and showers are open from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. daily. 
  • Parking is available during the week at a rate of $30 per vehicle 8 a.m.–3 p.m., $20 from 3–5 p.m.; and on the weekends and holidays at $35 per vehicle 8 a.m.–3 p.m., $25 from 3–5 p.m. Non-resident parking is limited so arrive early to get a parking space, especially during the summer months. Gates open at 8 a.m. and are locked at 9 p.m. The beach is handicapped accessible. 

Route 133 to Concord Street (Exit 13) to Atlantic Street

Cressy’s Beach at Stage Fort Park

Located on the lower side of historic Stage Fort Park, Cressy’s Beach is a rocky beach with breathtaking views of Gloucester Harbor. Families and couples spend countless hours during the summer enjoying cookouts, picnics and playing Frisbee on the park’s wide-open lawns.

  • Dogs are allowed in the park yet are prohibited on the beach. 
  • Restrooms are located within the park as well as at a privately owned restaurant located adjacent to the park. 
  • Parking is available at Stage Fort Park at a rate of $15 per vehicle weekdays and $20 on the weekends and holidays. 
  • There are no lifeguards. 

Route 127 (Western Avenue) to Hough Avenue

Half Moon Beach at Stage Fort Park

Half Moon Beach is a quiet, intimate, crescent-shaped beach located at historic Stage Fort Park. Surrounded by a rocky hill and ample shady spots, it offers more seclusion from the rest of the park. Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The beach is handicapped accessible.

  • Dogs are allowed in the park yet are prohibited on the beach.
  • Restrooms are located within the park.
  • Parking is available at Stage Fort Park at a rate of $15 per vehicle weekdays and $20 on the weekends and holidays.

Route 127 (Western Avenue) to Hough Avenue

Pavilion Beach

Near Gloucester’s famous Fishermen’s Memorial Statue (The Man at the Wheel), Pavilion Beach on Gloucester Harbor is a popular site for beachcombing and boat-watching. Conveniently located a short walk from Gloucester’s downtown, this beach is the perfect spot for a summer swim before (or after) a visit to nearby restaurants and stores. A mix of sand and popplestones, Pavilion Beach does not have lifeguards on duty. 

  • Limited public parking is available along Stacy Boulevard. Free public parking is also available at the nearby Saint Peter’s parking lot, located at the intersection of Rogers and Commercial streets.

Western Avenue (Route 127) at the eastern end of Stacy Boulevard 

Niles Beach

Niles Beach is located on Eastern Point Road in East Gloucester. Primarily enjoyed by residents (a resident sticker is required for beachside parking), Niles is a quiet family beach with breathtaking vistas over Gloucester Harbor to the Boston skyline on the horizon. 

  • Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. from Father’s Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. 
  • Portable restrooms are available seasonally. 

Eastern Point Road, East Gloucester

Plum Cove Beach

Located near Lanesville, Plum Cove is the perfect beach for families with small children. The cozy beach overlooks Ipswich Bay and offers a quiet day at the beach away from the crowds. Please note: a resident sticker is required to park at Plum Cove Beach. 

  • Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. from Father’s Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. 

Washington Street (Route 127) in the northern part of Gloucester, near Lanesville

Beach Rules

All Gloucester beaches have a Carry In/Carry Out policy for trash, so all visitors should bring a trash bag with them. Alcohol is prohibited. Concession stands are open at Good Harbor and Wingaersheek beaches during the summer so patrons may purchase food, drinks, toys and other items as needed. 

Manchester-By-The-Sea Beaches

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Singing Beach

The sands resonate with your footsteps as you stroll this immaculate beach. Bask in its clear blue waters amid stellar vistas. Enjoy a thirst-quenching Italian ice at the snack bar. 

  • The parking area is for residents only (from mid-April through mid-October) so you may have to walk from the train station or the center of town to enjoy this beach. Just under a mile, everyone does it! 
  • $5 seasonal walk-on fee.
  • Visit manchester.ma.us for added details.

Route 127 to Beach Street, Manchester

Rockport Beaches

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Front Beach

Sandy Bay acts as the beautiful backdrop for Front Beach, the perfect beach for all the swimmers and sunbathers in your group. When you are finished with your day at the beach, restaurants and shops are just steps away. There are also many inns and B&Bs nearby to accommodate your beachside vacation.

  • Paid on-street parking is available adjacent to Front Beach, and long-term parking is available in a privately operated lot across the street. In July and August, the CATA Park & Ride (Blue Gate Lane off Route 127) provides free parking and a daily trolley shuttle ($1 per person) directly to downtown Rockport and Front Beach. 

Route 127A, Main Street to Beach Street, Downtown Rockport

Back Beach

Back Beach is home to one of the best scuba diving areas in the region. Dive in and discover the submerged world beneath the ocean. This sandy and rocky beach is perfect for divers, swimmers and walkers. On summer Sunday evenings, the Rockport Legion Band performs free outdoor concerts at the bandstand located just across the street from Back Beach.

  • Paid on-street parking is available along the entire extent of Back Beach. 

Route 127A, Beach Street in Downtown Rockport

Old Garden Beach

This small sand and popplestone beach with an adjacent municipal park offers a beautiful view over Sandy Bay and grassy areas for picnics with friends and family. Old Garden is another favorite location for divers. The small beach parking area is restricted to those with resident parking stickers. Please observe posted parking restrictions. Limited on-street parking is available nearby.

Old Garden Road, Rockport

Pebble Beach

Water-smoothed popplestones and pebbles blanket this picturesque crescent beach. Search among the rocks for shells or bring your binoculars to capture views of Cape Ann’s variety of sea-loving birds and the Boston skyline to the southwest. There is a rocky reef just offshore where divers enjoy the underwater life at 20- to 30-foot depths. 

  • Limited parking is available on Penzance Road adjacent to the beach. Please observe posted parking restrictions.

Penzance Road, Rockport

Cape Hedge Beach

This is a secluded stretch of rocky beach separated from Long Beach by a short, seasonal foot bridge. Smooth sand is minimal at high tide. A quiet oasis, Cape Hedge Beach is located about two miles from Rockport’s many shops and restaurants. 

  • Very limited non-resident parking is available along South Street. Please observe posted parking restrictions.

South Street, Rockport

Long Beach 

About a mile in length, Long Beach offers one of the best views of Thacher Island’s twin lighthouses. Investigate the tidal pools or take a casual stroll, soaking in the sun. The beach is lined with quaint New England beach houses. Enjoy the day at Long Beach and then head into town for a fresh lobster dinner. Parking is available in a private, seasonally operated lot, accessible from Rockport Road, off Route 127A 

in Gloucester. 

Route 127A (Thatcher Road to Rockport Road)