Beachcombing: Best Beaches to Explore on the South Shore

By Courtney Garvey and Dagmar Seppala | Above photo by Kjeld Mahoney

The South Shore’s sweeping coastline is home to countless treasured beaches, just waiting to be explored. Many are within walking distance to a wide range of  recreational activities, seaside neighborhoods and village centers. From soft sand to rocky shorelines, here’s what to expect if you plan a to visit one of these summertime hot spots. 

 

MUSEUM BEACH

Protected from rough surf and rip currents, Museum Beach in Scituate is a beautiful spot for watching boats headed in and out of Scituate Harbor. Beachgoers also enjoy views of Scituate Lighthouse. There’s no public parking available, but it’s an easy walk away from the summer homes located on the side streets off of Jericho Road.

THE SPIT

Kjeld Mahoney

Accessible only by boat, The Spit is a large sand bar located at the head of the North and South Rivers that is a popular beach destination. If you feel hungry while you’re out there, you can get food from Erich’s Clam Shack delivered by boat. All of the seafood on the menu is delivered fresh, daily, from local fishermen. Typically visited by hundreds of boaters on an average summer afternoon, The Spit is a great family beach. Since The Spit lacks facilities, make sure you bring out what you brought in.

BRANT ROCK BEACH

Dagmar Seppala

If you’re looking for beautiful ocean views without the nuisance of getting sandy, park your car on the seawall overlooking Brant Rock. The stone jetty allows beachgoers to venture out over the water. High tide often covers up the narrow stretch of beach, so the wall is a great point to watch and hear the waves crash against the rocks. Resident parking stickers and day passes are available.

HINGHAM BATHING BEACH

Just a short stroll from Hingham Square, this sandy tidal beach on Hingham Harbor offers calm waters, making it a popular spot for kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and swim ming at high tide. There is a lifeguard on duty during the summer beach season and amenities include a boat ramp, restrooms, benches and picnic tables. Parking is free with a resident sticker. If you go on a Saturday, satisfy your hunger with fresh, local produce and artisan foods from the Hingham Farmers Market, held from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the parking lot.

BLACK ROCK BEACH

Named after a pair of small rocky islands just off shore, this Cohasset beach is located off of Summit Avenue and Jerusalem Road, at the edge of Hull. The beach separates the ocean from Straights Pond, which is a tidal waterway that flows into the Weir River in Hingham. There is street parking on Wadleigh Park Road, but no lifeguard on duty. It’s the perfect beach to explore the rocks, catch the last golden rays of sunlight and fire up a bonfire to roast s’mores.

SANDY BEACH

Dagmar Seppala

Sugary white sand and a newly revamped Sandy Beach Bathhouse, complete with restrooms, a hydration station and WiFi, make this beautiful beach a relaxing summer destination for the locals. A Cohasset town parking sticker is required to park in the lot and lifeguards are on duty seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Labor Day. Families bring boogie boards and surfboards and enjoy refreshing treats from the Del’s Lemonade truck and Nona’s Homemade ice cream truck that routinely making afternoon stops in the lot.

BASSINGS BEACH

Sometimes a day trip to the beach isn’t enough. Wake up to the sound of the waves at this camping-friendly oasis. Located in Scituate, close to Cohasset Harbor, Bassings Beach offers great opportunities for swimming, picnicking and fishing. The ¾-mile barrier beach is also an important wildlife habitat and is part of the Cohasset Conservation Trust. While the beach is only accessible by boat, paddle board or kayak, parking is available at Cohasset Sailing Club, which is a short swim to the beach. Visit at low tide and walk to The Spit.

MINOT BEACH

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, via Flickr.com

This North Scituate beach offers a sandy shoreline and views of Minot Light. Off of the tip of the rocks you can see the crooked mast of a sunken ship. There are a handful of street parking spots and a larger lot to the left side of the beach. Resident and non-resident parking stickers are available. After a day in the sun, fuel up at nearby Circe’s Grotto for a hearty panini or a quintessential lobster roll or go across the street for a Wilbur Wheel (ice cream cookie sandwich) at Wilbur’s North.

EGYPT BEACH

A true gem, Egypt Beach is a small beach with a long point-break just south of Scituate Harbor. Beach activities include swimming, surfing and kayaking. There is a lifeguard on duty during the summer season. This beach is made up of polished stones in many colors and shapes and the paths from the parking lot are edged by wild grape vines. Resident and non-resident beach stickers area available. There is also a convenience store that is within walking distance.

SAND HILLS BEACH

This small neighborhood beach in Scituate is accessed from Oceanside Drive and is flanked by seaside cottages. The beach becomes narrow as the tide creeps in but remains quiet and picturesque. Beach amenities include and lifeguards and porta-potties. Parking is limited to residents with a Scituate beach sticker. While you’re there, visit the Sand Hills General Store for an ice cream.

DUXBURY BEACH

Kjeld Mahoney

Duxbury Beach is a 6-mile stretch of soft sand and seagrasses. If you have a sticker, enter the reservation via the iconic Powder Point Bridge, which has made appearances in films like “The Finest Hours” and “The Way, Way Back.” While parking stickers at the reservation are available to residents only, an over-sand sticker is available to all. Facilities are limited to porta potties, but there’s the treat of the afternoon ice cream truck that pulls through the parking lot.

GUN ROCK BEACH

Gun Rock is a small crescent-shaped stretch of beach between Nantasket Beach in Hull and Black Rock Beach in Cohasset. It is a neighborhood beach that attracts families and its quiet, sandy cove is great for paddling and swimming. There are no lifeguards on duty. Parking at this beach is limited and reserved for local residents. There is also street parking along nearby Atlantic Avenue.

WHITE HORSE BEACH

John Phelan, via Wikimedia Commons

This Manomet beach may be farther out there than some other Plymouth beaches, but its scenic beauty makes it a popular destination with the locals. If you’re staying at a nearby beach house you can catch a showing of “Bye Bye Birdie” at the Priscilla Beach Theatre, located just down the street. Pick up a snack at the White Horse General Store or fresh seafood for dinner from the Lobster Pound.

ELLISVILLE HARBOR STATE PARK

Ellisville Harbor is a pocket of preserved coastline that is perfect for the more adventurous of beachgoers. The path from the parking lot passes rolling meadows, marshes and a pine forest. While the ocean is open for swimming, it’s more commonly a spot to fish or spot harbor seals, which are known to frequent the area.

PEGGOTTY BEACH

Kjeld Mahoney

Peggotty Beach offers a 1/2-mile of hard-packed sand and vistas of lapping waves. Scituate Harbor is within walking distance as are many shops, waterfront restaurants and accommodations. A snack bar and porta potties are also available. Beach stickers can be purchased for residents and non-residents.

GRAY’S BEACH PARK

John Phelan, via Wikimedia Commons

Gray’s Beach is a hidden treasure for Kingston residents. While the beach itself is small, the property also includes basketball and tennis courts and a playground. A resident sticker is required for entry.

NELSON BEACH

Located in North Plymouth, this small stretch of beach attracts a steady stream of visitors with its secluded yet energetic atmosphere. With a grassy lawn overlooking Plymouth Bay, Nelson Street Beach is a perfect picnic spot. An onsite lot offers free parking next to the beach, easy access to a bike trail and there is a playground and splash pads for children of all ages to enjoy. Grab something to eat at Angelo’s Snack Shack and soak up
the summer sun.

NANTASKET BEACH

Patricia Grace

Under the gaze of the Nantasket Beach Resort, this is 3-mile stretch of sand is a go-to beach for family entertainment. Rent surfboards for on-the-water fun, take a spin on Paragon Carousel or visit the newly renovated Paragon Boardwalk, where you can play mini golf and old-fashioned arcade games. Before you go, check out NortheastSurfing.com to see the view from two live-streaming cameras that document the swell. The sand is very fine and light gray. At low tide, there are shallow tide pools for young children to explore. One of the busiest beaches in Greater Boston, amenities include restrooms, a playground, volleyball courts and numerous water sport opportunities.There are weekly summer concerts at the Bernie King Pavilion and numerous restaurants to visit along Nantasket Avenue.

REXHAME BEACH

Dagmar Seppala

Plenty of people come to Rexhame Beach to relax, but if sun bathing isn’t your thing you can stay active at the basketball courts or with a surfboard rental from Levitate. Restrooms and a snack bar are on site, but you can also pick up treats for a beach picnic at the Rexhame General Store or at Acorn Canning Company, located just down the road. Cool off with a Green Light smoothie. Resident stickers and non-resident daily parking passes are available.

GREEN HARBOR BEACH

Kjeld Mahoney

A jetty stretches into the sea at the edge of this picturesque beach. From your beach chair you can watch fishing boats sailing in and out of Green Harbor. A resident parking sticker is required to access the lot and space is at a premium. Most beachgoers walk from surrounding neighborhoods, grabbing a lobster roll from the nearby Green Harbor Lobster Pound or a snow cone on the boardwalk before making the trek down to the beach.

HUMAROCK BEACH

Kjeld Mahoney

A spacious and quiet beach with a small-town feel, Humarock brings all of the water-filled summer fun with none of the crowds. With fine, hard-packed sand, sweeping dunes and swaying beach grass, this Scituate beach (accessible through Marshfield) has it all. There are lifeguards on duty between late June and Labor Day. Seals can sometimes be spotted. A wide variety of restaurants, gift shops and a general store are all within walking distance and small bonfires are permitted. Public parking can be hard to find at this isolated gem, so consider investing in a seasonal pass. With a Scituate beach sticker there’s an accessible large parking lot at Ferry Street, located off of Route 3A. Non-resident day passes are also available.

DUXBURY BEACH PARK

Day parking passes are available for this public beach, accessed via Gurnet Road in Marshfield. Beachgoers can visit The Pavilion, a snack and ice cream shack complete with bathrooms and showers, or Blakeman’s, a full-service seafood restaurant.

PLYMOUTH LONG BEACH

With three miles of smooth sand, Plymouth’s Long Beach is the perfect place for a summer stroll along the bay. At its tip you can spy Saquish in the distance. When you leave the beach you can refuel with a seafood platter at the beachside restaurant Sandy’s. Bathrooms and lifeguards are situated near the beginning of the beach.
Parking stickers are available for residents and non-residents.

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