Ultimate Guide to Best Beaches in Chatham, Cape Cod, 2024

Chatham Lighthouse across the street from Lighthouse Beach

Chatham is a quaint and charming Cape Cod town worth a visit. My husband and I recently visited on a kid-free getaway. I was so impressed with the area; Chatham was my favorite of all the Cape communities. We are already planning a visit to return with our kids, who would love the beach communities and the Cape Cod Baseball League. 

Chatham is located further down the coast with an idyllic main street, a local baseball town, delicious restaurants, and gorgeous beaches. I’m excited to share my knowledge of the community with you!

Cape Cod offers many diverse activities for visitors, but many come for the beautiful and relaxing beaches. Follow along to learn about the best beaches in Chatham, Cape Cod.

Some of the best beaches in Chatham, Cape Cod, have life guards during the day

❓❓Short on time? Go ahead and book your lodging NOW!!
Luxury- Chatham Bars Inn
Boutique- Greyfinch Inn
Moderate- Pleasant Bay Village Resort

Beach Packing List

Top Beaches in Chatham

Chatham boasts several great beaches open to the public. Some are more crowded than others, so plan accordingly if visiting in the high season of July and August. 

1. Ridgevale Beach

Ridgevale Beach was one of the first beaches I visited in Chatham. There is a large parking lot and bathrooms. You will need a parking pass at the height of the summer, so be prepared. This was also the most populated beach of the seven.

One of the excellent parts of Ridgevale is the snack bar off the side of the parking lot, and you can rent simple sailboats to take out in the water. 

Ridgevale Beach Snack Bar

While visiting, I noticed the beach is a good mix of all ages. Adults and teens sunbathed while little kids searched for fish and crabs in the shallow water pools. I was so impressed and knew my kids would love it. The beach is a great spot for families with young children.

Ridgevale Beach has shallow water areas for kids to play and look for small fish

2. Lighthouse Beach

One of the most famous Chatham Beaches, Lighthouse Beach, is near town and has an active lighthouse. Sometimes it is also known as Chatham Lighthouse Beach, so don’t be confused. This is one of the Cape’s most recognizable waterfront areas, so it may be crowded. 

The parking is short-term since they share it with visitors to the lighthouse. Many guests either walked to the beach or biked.  As a side note, there are port-o-potties. 

Lighthouse Beach is one of the prettiest beachfront stops in Chatham

On the beach, there’s plenty of space to explore. Some guests were walking, sunbathing, or taking photos. You can watch fishing boats heading in for the day at the Chatham Fish Pier. Once you are done, hop in the car and drive to Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. 

3. Hardings Beach

Hardings Beach is another popular spot for visitors. We checked it out one late afternoon and spent time walking down the beach. It is gorgeous and worth visiting. 

First, there is tons of parking- 2 separate large lots. The beach is vast, with plenty of room to spread out. If you don’t like crowds, hang left and walk past the parking lots to less populated areas for a quiet time. 

If you love lighthouses, then make time for Hardings Beach. Stage Harbor Lighthouse is on private property and inaccessible by road. If you want to see it, park in the second lot at Hardings Beach and walk to your left (if facing the beach). There’s a sand path, or you can walk on the beach. It is not a challenging walk, but it does take some time.

sandy path to view Stage Harbor Lighthouse

The walk is beautiful whether you are on the beach or the path. We did most of the walk on the path with views of the gorgeous houses facing Hardings Beach. 

Finally, the path starts with soft sand, like walking on the beach. As you walk, it will be mixed with small pebbles and rocks if you have sensitive feet like me. It didn’t bother my husband, who always wore his sandals. 

4. Cockle Cove Beach

Cockle Cove Beach is close to Ridgevale and right off Cockle Cove Road. You could park at one and walk to the other one. Considering Ridgevale was more crowded on the day I visited, you may prefer Cockle Cove if you prefer small crowds. 

Now for the details about Cockle Cove- bathrooms and plenty of parking are available. Although I loved the kid-friendliness of Ridgevale, if I was traveling with my husband or friends, I would head to Cockle Cove for a more quiet and serene experience. 

Cockle Cove, Chatham is a nearby Ridgevale

5. Forest Beach

Forest Beach is a little further down the road from Chatham and significantly less crowded than the first four beaches mentioned. It is located in the area known as South Chatham. 

FYI- there’s less parking, no bathrooms, and no pass needed. If you are passing through Chatham for the day, it may be to your advantage to stop here and not mess with securing a pass for a few hours if visiting in the height of summer. 

Forest Beach is one of the best beaches in Chatham, Cape Cod

I loved the layout of the beach. Rocks created natural curves in the coastline, almost creating private beaches. If you enjoy walking the long coastline, this one is not for you. But if you prefer carving out a little private space for your family, you would like Forest Beach. 

6. Oyster Pond Beach

Oyster Pond is the beach closest to the downtown area of Chatham and is also charming. There’s a small parking lot with public restrooms! This is important to note, especially when traveling with young kids. Also, it is a great place to try and catch small fish and crabs. 

Oyster Pond is within walking distance of downtown Chatham

There are picnic tables to the right of the parking lot. My favorite part of this beach was the picturesque views of the pond, with numerous boats parked there. 

If you have time, add Oyster Pond to your Chatham bucket list. Of all the Cape Cod beaches, this one was a favorite.

For travelers who love pristine and gorgeous beaches, check out Outer Banks, NC.

7. Pleasant Bay

Pleasant Bay is set apart from the other beaches mentioned but perfect for people staying off 28. There’s one small spot with limited parking on the road. This small beach is sandwiched between two private beaches, so be careful when exploring.

Pleasant Bay Beach is north of Chatham heading to Orleans

If you travel further down 28 away from Chatham, you can turn down the road for another access point to Pleasant Street Beach. There’s more parking and a larger beach area. 

This was my least favorite beach during my time in Chatham. 

If you are looking for a fall beach adventure, consider checking out 30a beaches on the Florida Panhandle.

Chatham Beach Tips

Hardings Beach

✅ Pack sunscreen, sandals, towels, beach chairs, umbrellas, and snacks

✅ Beaches will be more crowded in July & August, so plan to arrive early to secure a parking spot

✅Many of the beaches require parking passes! You can purchase daily, weekly, or seasonal passes.

✅ Weekends will be packed! Plan your travel in advance.

✅ Pack a picnic lunch since most beaches don’t have a snack counter (only Ridgevale does). There aren’t options within a short walking distance from the beach unless you are at Oyster Pond. 

✅ Avoid swimming in areas where seals are commonly found (see below)

✅ Grab a hearty breakfast in town before you start your day!

✅ Once you’ve explored Cape Cod, consider heading north to Maine as the summers there are glorious.

Where to Stay in Chatham?

Greyfinch Inn is the perfect place to explore the best beaches in Chatham, Cape Cod

Need a place to stay while exploring? Chatham offers a variety of hotels ranging in price and location. Remember that summer is the busy season, and prices will rise significantly. Also, Chatham is extremely popular, so lodging may be higher than you anticipate. I know we ran into that dilemna. 

Luxury- Chatham Bars Inn

Chatham Bars Inn is hands down one of the premier luxury hotels in Chatham, Cape Cod. Sitting directly on the water, most of the resort’s rooms provide scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean. The resort calls itself Cape Cod’s Most Beautiful Address. 

Chatham Bars Inn is an upscale resort in Chatham, Cape Cod

Although most of the rooms are across the street from the Atlantic, the resort sits atop a hill and grants visitors amazing views. On the beach side, there are cottages available for larger parties. The cottages also come with kitchenettes which are nice when traveling with kids. 

As for amenities, you’ll find a beautiful pool and private beach cabanas for guests. There are also several remarkable restaurants with breakfast, lunch & dinner to visit while at the resort. You are also very close to the Chatham Pier Fish Market, a fun way to watch ships come in with their daily catch and the seal communities that follow the fish. 

If you prefer luxury lodging when traveling, Bar Harbor, Maine has amazing resorts to choose from.

✅ Ready to book Chatham Bars Inn? Click here to start your amazing trip to Chatham, Cape Cod. 🌊🌊🌊

Boutique – Greyfinch Inn

Greyfinch Inn is the coziest hotel in Chatham, Cape Cod

Greyfinch Inn is a new addition to the Chatham community (revitalized an older hotel). Although it looks like a new motel, it is a cute and charming boutique hotel in Chatham. 

Greyfinch’s rooms are designed in a clean nautical style with LVP flooring (or something similar). These floors are nice compared to the carpet. We recently stayed here and found the rooms to be cozy and charming.

Comfortable beds, a refrigerator, two sinks, a couch, and a desk area are in each room. There’s a beautiful pool with large games for kids, a firepit area, and free bikes to borrow. I can’t recommend this place enough if you are getting away for a few days!

nautical theme rooms in the Greyfinch Inn

✅ Ready to Book Greyfinch Inn? Click here to start your amazing trip to Chatham, Cape Cod. 🌊🌊🌊

Budget- Pleasant Bay Village Resort

Now, you may check the prices and think this is NOT budget, but remember Chatham hotels are pricer during the busy summer. 

When I researched where to stay, I was greeted with hundreds of positive reviews on Pleasant Bay—guests who returned year after year. In particular, guests loved the serene gardens surrounding the inn- almost like being in your garden in the middle of Cape Cod. 

Pleasant Bay Resort has amazing reviews

Although we didn’t stay here, we checked it out during our stay. I see why guests love the feel of the hotel. Beautiful flowers and greenery surround the entire place.

✅ Ready to Book Pleasant Bay Resort? Click here to start your amazing trip to Chatham, Cape Cod. 🌊🌊🌊

FAQ: Visiting Chatham

🌊Do you need a pass to enter the beach?

Many beaches require passes starting in late June through Labor Day. We visited in mid-June, and the beaches didn’t require passes yet, but the rates were posted. You can purchase daily, weekly, or season passes to the beaches. 

🌊Can you swim at the beaches?

Yes, you can swim, but beware of the shark population. Stay away from swimming where there are seals, and avoid areas with schools of fish. 

🌊Are there sharks in Chatham?

Unfortunately, yes, due to the growing seal population in the Cape. Seals are one of the primary foods for the shark population, so they have followed seals to the Cape region. There are sitings every summer, and some beaches will fly flags warning guests. 

🌊When is the best time to visit Chatham?

Cape Cod is extremely popular in the summer months, especially in July and August. We went in mid-June and loved it. Crowds were lower, and the weather was in the high 60’s/low 70’s. Chatham has many exciting activities for guests even if you don’t like the beach.

Cape Cod is also beautiful in the spring and fall. If you are interesting in a whale watching trip while visiting Massachusetts, there are several spots to choose from such as Provincetown or Cape Ann.

In Conclusion: Ultimate Guide to Best Beaches in Chatham, Cape Cod

Chatham is a charming community on Cape Cod with beautiful beaches. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my summary of the best beaches in Chatham, Cape Cod, and it has eased planning your next trip. Go ahead and book your next great adventure!

🌊 Cape Cod Resources🌊
Where to Find the Best Breakfast in Chatham, MA
23 Exciting Activities & Things to Do in Chatham, Cape Cod
Visit Cape Cod in the Fall
Best 4th of July Events on Cape Cod
Tips for Best Routes from Boston to Cape Cod
Best Beaches in Chatham, Cape Cod