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The Many Charms of Coast Guard Beach

Coast Guard Beach
The red-roofed station at Coast Guard Beach was the first headquarters of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Coast Guard Beach in Eastham is the quintessential Cape Cod beach–pristine, windswept and expansive. It’s comprised of The Great Beach, so-called by 19th-century writer Henry David Thoreau, as well as Nauset Marsh and Nauset Spit.  The marsh is our favorite spot for kayaking. A Town of Eastham parking sticker is required to park nearby and unload a kayak. The 2013 fees are $60 for one week or $95 for two weeks. We love viewing the shore birds and salt marsh grass systems close up. On the Spit we can walk directly onto the barrier beach system and see seals during the winter months. If you love the outdoors, this will be your paradise. From early spring to early summer the beach is home to nesting terns and plovers. Because plovers are listed on the Endangered Species Act, they are fiercely protected by local and federal authorities. The use of dune buggies and other four-wheel-drive vehicles on the beach periodically is prohibited so as to let the plovers breed in peace.

The much-photographed red-roofed Coast Guard Station remained in service until 1958 and was the first headquarters of the Cape Cod National Seashore. The great Nor’easter of 1978 decimated the parking lot and changing complex at Coast Guard Beach, forcing the relocation and construction of a substantially smaller parking area. Now the lot can accommodate only Park Service staff and disabled beachgoers throughout high season.  During the summer months shuttle buses run from the Little Creek parking area at the Salt Pond Visitors Center to Coast Guard Beach.

Want to see if the surf’s up? The Coast Guard Beach web cam makes it easy. I recommend bookmarking it.

Readers and lovers of Cape Cod lore will want to know that Henry Beston’s “Outermost House” originally stood about two miles south of Coast Guard Beach. Beston lived there in a 16×21-foot two-room cottage in the mid-1920s while composing his soon-to-be-classic book about four seasons of life on the beach. The great storm of 1978 washed the house away, but for many, the dream of living a life of solitude on a perfect Cape Cod beach lives on.

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