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Why I Love Cape Cod Bay’s Beaches

Beth Maroney
Cape Cod Bay’s expansive sand flats are exposed twice each day when the tide goes out.

The magnificent dune-lined beaches on the ocean side of Cape Cod may receive all the glory, but there’s plenty to love about the Cape’s bay-side beaches.

Here are five reasons why you should hang out on the bay side during your next Cape Cod getaway.

1. You can take long walks at low tide.
If you cite “long walks on the beach” as one of your interests, you’ll be in your element on a bay-side beach at low tide. Picture miles of smooth, flat sand in either direction, then flip a coin and head off to explore. What’s more, at the peak of low tide you can venture out toward the water line in virtually any direction, frolicking around tide pools and collecting washed-up scallop shells. Just watch out for the hermit crabs!

2. You’ll enjoy swimming in warmer water.

If your tolerance for cold is low and you find it semi-painful to swim at ocean beaches on the Cape, you’ll be better off swimming on the bay side where the water is much warmer, shallower, and calmer–a perfect solution for families with young kids. Be sure to check a tide chart and plan your swim around high tide, otherwise you’ll have to walk a lengthy distance to reach water deep enough to swim in.
Lindsay Buckley 3
The sand flats that emerge when the tide goes out are a perfect place to play bocce or practice your golf swing.

3. There are fewer crowds.

Have you ever tried to get into an ocean-side beach parking lot on a weekend afternoon in July or August? In addition to forking over $15 to $20 to park for the day, you’ll also spend an exorbitant amount of time just waiting to get in. Then once you finally make it to the beach, you’ll be weaving through a large sea of umbrellas to stake out a small space in the sand to call your own.
Not exactly the relaxing beach day you had in mind.

By contrast, there is virtually no competition for access to Cape Cod’s bay-side beaches. Parking is effortless, and elbow room is aplenty once you’re on the sand. Be sure to purchase a beach parking sticker if you plan to park at a town beach, otherwise you may get ticketed. In Eastham, you can get a beach parking sticker at the town’s Department of Natural Resources, 555 Old Orchard Road.

Sunsets over Cape Cod Bay often are spectacular.
Sunsets over Cape Cod Bay often are spectacular.

4. Nothing beats bocce on the beach.

Sure, there are plenty of active endeavors you can partake in on any old beach: frisbee, skim boarding, kite flying, volleyball. But you know what you can’t play on a beach with coarse sand and a slanted shore? Bocce. Thankfully, the sand flats on the Cape’s bay-side beaches are perfect for it. There’s nothing better than a late afternoon game of bocce before firing up the grill for dinner.

5. You’ll see the best sunsets.

Because much of the bay side faces west, you’ll get a prime view of the sunset every night on this side of the Cape. If you’re lucky, you’ll witness a vibrant sunset reflecting off pools of water between the sand flats when the tide is out. Even though I’ve traveled extensively around the globe, I believe the sunsets over Cape Cod Bay are the best in the world. In a word, they’re magical.
This article was written by Lindsay Buckley, a travel blogger and wedding photographer currently based in New York City. She has lived in Sydney, trekked to Everest Base Camp, backpacked extensively through Southeast Asia, and has a penchant for affordable outdoor travel adventures. Lindsay loves epic hikes and bike rides, coffee crawling her way through new cities, and all things Australia.
(Photographs: top, Beth Maroney; middle, Lindsay Buckley; bottom, Carolyn Gatto)


  1. Great article!! Cape Cod is at the top of my list of favorite places. LOVE the flats at low tide <3

  2. Donna, I agree! Splashing around in Cape Cod Bay’s tide pools and exploring the sand flats at low tide is fun and relaxing. I’m endlessly fascinated by the stuff I find on the Cape’s bay-side beaches…scallop shells, driftwood, feathers, beach stones in all kinds of colors. Cape Cod is a very special place!

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