11 Best Surf Spots in Massachusetts
When you travel to New England, surfing may not be the first outdoor activity that comes to mind. It’s not California or Hawaii, but New England doesn’t get the credit it deserves as an exciting surfing destination. From Maine’s untamed coastline to the white sands of New Hampshire and Rhode Island, New England has pockets of great surfing. I think it’s the most underrated place for surfing in the United States. So pack your board and wetsuit and get ready for some New England surfing.
For this post, I’m going to focus on the state of Massachusetts and 11 of its finest surfing beaches. With about 1,500 miles of coastline, Massachusetts has dozens of beaches to take your surfboard. One region I heavily featured is Cape Cod, where you’ll find some of America’s most beautiful beaches. Facing the Atlantic Ocean, the outer Cape features much of the best surf anywhere in Massachusetts.
If you’re planning a New England vacation, surfing in Massachusetts adds adventure to your itinerary. Whether you’re a beginner or veteran, riding the New England waves is an unforgettable experience. To help plan your trip, here are my top 11 surfing spots in Massachusetts.
11 Best Surf Spots in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Surfing Tips | Coast Guard Beach | Marconi Beach | White Crest Beach | Head of the Meadow Beach | Nauset Beach | Cahoon Hollow Beach | Nauset Light Beach | Ballston Beach | Cisco Beach | Good Harbor Beach | Nantasket Beach |
Massachusetts Surfing Tips
While surfing in Massachusetts, or anywhere else in New England, there are several pointers you should know. New England is not like Cali or Hawaii, and you have to be more meticulous searching for waves. Swells are out there, but I’d suggest checking the surf forecast and being patient at the beach. Another tip is to locate surf shops and instructors since that can indicate an area of consistent swells.
Before surfing in New England, you definitely want to invest in a wetsuit. The water here is often frigid, even during the summer months. Temperatures tend to hover in the 60s (F) (16 degrees Celsius) during summer, but long hours in the water without a wetsuit can be dangerous. Stay warm and always wear a proper wetsuit to withstand the chilly Atlantic Ocean water.
My last tip is to always be on guard for one of the ocean’s scariest predators. Great White Sharks. I’m not trying to discourage you, but you have to stay alert for sharks while surfing in Massachusetts. Great White Sharks tend to be most active around late summer-early fall. If you spot those adorable seals offshore, you know sharks are likely not far away. While on vacation, I’d suggest tuning into the local news to stay updated on shark reports.
1. Coast Guard Beach
Situated on Cape Cod National Seashore, Coast Guard Beach is among the Cape’s most reliable spots to catch waves. It’s rated as one of America’s best beaches for its pristine shoreline and beautiful dunes. The exposed beach break has surf throughout the year, but waves are most consistent during summer. August is the best month for its mixture of clean surfable waves and light surf for beginners. Suitable for longboards and shortboards, the summer swell here competes with other Atlantic beaches on the outer Cape.
While there’s always the chance of catching that monster wave at Coast Guard Beach, this section is also a hotbed for Great White Sharks. These powerful creatures are most active from August-October and sometimes are only 10 feet from the shore. Coast Guard Beach has lifeguards on duty in-season, and you must always heed their warnings. Parking is limited in-season, but this Cape Cod classic has public restrooms, outdoor showers, and fantastic views.
2. Marconi Beach
If you’re unable to find parking at the congested Coast Guard Beach, Marconi Beach provides a great alternative. It has one of the outer Cape’s largest parking lots, and the beach has consistent waves. Protected by steep dunes, Marconi has fast beach breaks from either direction to challenge surfers. At higher tides, the swells here compete with any other shoreline on the outer Cape. Since Marconi doesn’t generate the crowds of other shores, surfers have more room to catch clean swells.
Although the breaks are most consistent during summer, you’ll have to watch out for sharks like other Cape Cod beaches. If you look closely, you might find seals lounging in the water close to shore. Stick around Marconi until the evening, and you’ll witness one of Cape Cod’s magical sunset spots. There’s an observation deck overlooking the dunes that help find the best swells.
3. White Crest Beach
Staying in Wellfleet, White Crest Beach is an attractive surf location for longboard waves. Grassy dune cliffs tower above the white sands, and the exposed sandbar break offers consistent waves. The dunes are treacherously steep, and there are no stairs for beach access. You must climb down the dune to begin your surf session and trudge back up afterwards. Not an easy task after a full day catching waves at this popular sandbar. Local surfers call this area Four Mile, and the picturesque shoreline is one of Cape Cod’s beloved surf spots.
Before descending the infamous dune, you’ll find parking across the street from the shoreline. I’d advise starting your surf day early by watching the sunrise before heading into the water. The sunrises on White Crest Beach are surreal, and the clean shores offer an unmatched serenity. Like other outer Cape beaches, keep your eyes peeled for Great White Sharks.
4. Head of the Meadow Beach
Thanks to its unpredictable sandbars, Head of the Meadow Beach is a desirable spot for Cape Cod surfers. The tiny community doesn’t get crowded like other sections along the seashore, but local surfers come for the breaks. When the tide goes out, large swells generate some of the best surf on the outer Cape. Some waves are suitable for boogie boards, and deep tide pools host swimmers. Low tides also reveal the Frances wreckage, which sunk offshore Head of the Meadow Beach in 1872.
Although it’s quieter in Truro, the beach still has basic amenities such as restrooms and showers. For nature lovers, Head of the Meadow Beach is a goldmine to spot sharks, seals, seabirds, and sometimes whales.
5. Nauset Beach
Stretching for 10 miles, Nauset Beach has all the amenities for an exhilarating Cape Cod getaway. It’s farther south compared to other outer Cape beaches and more convenient when driving from Boston. Although the swells aren’t as consistent as other Cape Cod shores, you have more space navigating breaks. My advice is to arrive with a 4WD vehicle if you have access to one. You’ll have to secure a beach pass, but that allows you to explore 5 miles of shoreline toward Chatham. Breaks tend to be best around mid-tide, and July has the most consistent swells.
Nauset Beach is my choice for large groups since it has access to many fun-filled beach activities. In addition to surfing, Nauset Beach is a wonderful spot for swimming, fishing, picnics, and animal watching. The facilities are clean, and there are large parking lots for beachgoers. Even though it’s one of Cape Cod’s most popular shores, the 10 miles of soft sands give you plenty of space.
6. Cahoon Hollow Beach
Making our way back up to Wellfleet, Cahoon Hollow Beach is a worthy surf destination if you don’t mind noisy crowds. A top highlight of this area is the Beachcomber, a popular seafood restaurant perched atop the dunes. When the swell picks up, lower tides produce some exciting surf conditions besides the sandy shore. Just make sure to check the surf forecast to avoid the area during flat conditions. Parking is expensive, and the lot fills up quickly in-season.
It’s a steep descent down the 90 ft incline onto the shoreline, and the return climb can be a challenge. The beach also has volleyball courts for active breaks between surf sessions. Watching the sunset provides a magical ending to the day, and the Beachcomber keeps the party going at night.
7. Nauset Light Beach
Located near the historic Nauset Lighthouse, this one-mile beach is one of Cape Cod’s most beautiful surf spots. Its sandbar break provides consistent surf during the summer for clean rides. Nauset Light Beach does present some potential dangers due to urchins and undertow. Just like other outer Cape beaches, sharks are always a possible threat. The water gets crowded during good surf conditions, and you’ll share the beach with swimmers, para-surfers, and boogie boarders.
Parking fills up quickly at Nauset Light Beach, and I recommend arriving early in the morning. The beach’s amenities include restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic areas, and a bathhouse. Nauset Lighthouse is within walking distance of the beach and a fun activity to add to your day. The Atlantic Ocean views are incredible as you watch the waves crash into the shore.
8. Ballston Beach
Ballston Beach is more of a hidden gem on the outer Cape but doesn’t lack quality swells. Despite its unpredictability, the exposed beach has breaks that attract year-round local surfers. Low tides tend to present better conditions, but there are dangerous rip currents.
If you’re willing to surf in cooler water, a fall trip to Ballston Beach is a magical experience. You could walk for miles without running into a single soul and could spot wildlife offshore. The scenic beach has dunes in both directions and paints a gorgeous panorama at sunset. Be extra careful at this more secluded beach since there are no lifeguards on duty.
9. Cisco Beach
For a relaxing afternoon on tranquil Nantucket Island, Cisco Beach is the place to be. The quiet beach rests on the Atlantic side of the island and caters to surfers. A submerged sandbar helps the waves break away from the shore for exciting rides. Surf instructors work on Cisco Beach and teach beginners the basics. I wouldn’t advise first-time surfers to attempt their first waves here since the rip currents are strong. It’s better to be a good swimmer and have some experience on your board.
Cisco Beach’s sandy bluffs offer privacy for added seclusion on days with fewer visitors. The soft sand is difficult to walk through, but a ramp is usually there to help walk from the parking lot. On-duty lifeguards work during the summer, but facilities here are more rustic compared to the outer Cape.
10. Good Harbor Beach
Under one hour from Boston, Good Harbor Beach is a fun option for surf near Boston when you’re unable to reach Cape Cod. The sheltered beach break is tough to predict but has some rideable swells around high tide. Waves here are primarily for beginning surfers but don’t be surprised to find pockets of huge swells. During low tide, boogie boarders join the fun riding the waves. The long, sandy beach doesn’t have rocks and gives you plenty of space to enjoy the surf.
Thanks to limited parking, Good Harbor Beach keeps crowd sizes down despite its proximity to Boston. Parking fees are expensive, so make sure you spare extra cash to take advantage of the spacious beach. During low tide, you can use the walkway to Salt Island just offshore for fabulous views.
11. Nantasket Beach
Nestled along the shores of Massachusetts Bay, Nantasket Beach might be the quickest surf escape from Boston. Just under 25 minutes from the city, it won’t even take you an hour unless traffic is ridiculous. The light-grey sand beach can get hectic during summer, so it’s not my top choice for a surfing day trip. But if you wake up early and don’t have time for Cape Cod, Nantasket Beach is a great alternative. Swells usually fall on the smaller side, but you’ll get pockets of larger waves around mid-tide. Watch out for high tide since it brings the water upon the rocks. For surfing newbies, this could be a fantastic spot to get some practice before attempting bigger swells.
Nantasket has lots of parking spaces, but the fees are expensive, and early arrival is essential to be closer to the beach. Hull is a popular location on the South Shore of Massachusetts, and many come here for seaside picnics. The peninsula has breathtaking sunsets if you get carried away and ride the waves all afternoon.
What’s your take on Surfing Massachusetts? Any secret spots that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below.
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