Are you looking to enjoy some fresh sea air and sunny beaches on your next vacation but aren’t sure where to start? Then pack your swimsuit and sunscreen for an epic vacation spent on one of the lovely beaches in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
This beautiful city sitting on Cape Ann is an ideal location for all your seaside cravings and is arguably among the best beach vacations in America.
This popular spot for swimming, boating, and fishing offers a great time for the whole family, and no two Gloucester beaches are the same.
So if you’re looking for soft sandy beaches perfect for sandcastles, or enchanting secluded beaches perfect for lovers, Gloucester has it all. Here are seven of the best beaches in Gloucester to visit on your next vacation.
Best Beaches in Gloucester
As the city sits on a peninsula, there are a number of beaches within Gloucester and beyond that offer numerous opportunities to enjoy the ocean. But few beaches along the East Coast are as accommodating for everyone as those in Gloucester.
1. Pavilion Beach
If you find yourself worn down from exploring the delights of downtown Gloucester, then relax with a good swim at the nearby Pavilion Beach. It’s a picturesque stretch of pebble beach that overlooks Gloucester Harbor.
Also situated near the Fisherman’s Memorial Statue (The Man At The Wheel), this beach is a much-beloved jewel despite the absence of lifeguards and restrooms. However, there are Porta-Potties further along Stacy Boulevard.
In addition to being a popular beachcombing and boat-watching spot, Pavilion Beach is also home to Gloucester’s “Greasy Pole Challenge.” This is part of the larger five-day St. Peter’s Fiesta, held in June, which honors this patron saint of fishing.
These festivities do not allow alcohol on the beach, but it’s the same for any other day of the year. Beach toys are also prohibited in the summer. Visitors should also note that parking along Stacy Boulevard is limited, although there is public parking available further into the downtown area.
The walk from your car will certainly be worth it, though. One glance at that clear water and harbor views will have you breathless with excitement to dive right in.
2. Good Harbor Beach
One of the more popular Gloucester beaches, Good Harbor Beach is the perfect destination for some family fun time. The beach’s soft white sand is perfect for sandcastles and sunbathing, and the waves allow for some epic boogie boarding.
At low tide, the sandbar opens up, and a land bridge surfaces, allowing you to take a stroll to the nearby Salt Island. Be sure to head back to shore before the tide rises again so you don’t get trapped, and you can catch some of the waves for body surfing.
Lifeguards are on duty between 9 am and 5 pm from Memorial Day weekend all through to Labor Day weekend. Restrooms are available across the beach every day between 9 am and 6 pm, and the gates open at 8 am and are locked after 9 pm.
However, beachgoers should know that any flotation devices or inflatable objects are prohibited between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend. You can still bring styrofoam boogie boards and beach toys any other time, as long as you don’t leave them behind.
Good Harbor Beach is also handicap accessible and also provides a beach wheelchair if you or a family member need it.
3. Wingaersheek Beach
Sitting on the shore of the Annisquam River and stretching into Ipswich Bay, Wingaersheek Beach is a beautiful, although limited stretch of shore.
The waters are crystalline and cool, and unique rock formations and boulders that are perfect for climbing, or taking pictures, surround the shore.
During low tide, you and your family can take strolls along the exposed sandbar or explore some of the rocks for hermit crabs or clams. At high tide, take a dip in the ocean to enjoy body surfing or lounge in one of the tide pools for calmer conditions.
Lifeguards are on duty from 9 am to 5 pm from Memorial Day weekend through to Labour Day weekend, and there are restrooms available on a daily basis between 9 am and 6 pm. Concession stands also operate in the summer, selling delectable treats and beach toys to all beachgoers.
Surfing boards, and other inflatable objects or flotation devices, are prohibited during the summer season, and alcohol is generally restricted on the beach.
Beachgoers should also know that Wingaersheek Beach has a “Carry in-Carry out” policy which requires that all visitors carry out their own trash.
Wingaersheek Beach is handicapped accessible and is also accommodating for wheelchair users.
4. Niles Beach
Nestled in the east of Gloucester on Eastern Point Road is this quaint and quiet beach. Although primarily a residential beach, Niles Beach is a charming destination and is perfect for families.
At low tide, the waves are enticingly gentle, perfect for small children who cannot resist the water. The high tide swallows a considerable portion of the shore, but you can take a stroll along the beach street to see some of the gorgeous seaside vistas.
This is also one of the best beaches to enjoy a view of the sunset. Also, with the Gloucester Harbor and Boston skyline just across the way, you will not find anywhere with a better ambiance.
Lifeguards are on duty between Father’s Day and Labor Day weekend, between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm. Unfortunately, there are no restrooms, although Porta Potties are available. There are also no vendors, so it’s up to you to pack food and drinks for your beach day.
It’s essential you know that parking space is limited along the beach. Only those with a resident beach sticker on their cars are permitted beachside parking. But at least the beach is handicapped accessible.
5. Plum Cove Beach
In the north of Gloucester, you will find another amazing family beach tucked into the quaint Lanesville neighborhood. Plum Cove Beach is a picture-perfect family location despite being a mainly residential beach.
Overlooking Ipswich Bay, this quiet beach may be small, but it’s certainly a hit with the kids. The expanse of soft sand and gentle waves is perfect for the little ones to enjoy, and the rocks along the beach’s border are a perfect vantage point to soak up the views.
While you needn’t worry about too much commotion, you will need to provide your own beach necessities like food and drinks. No vendors operate here, and there are no restrooms on the beach either.
Lifeguards are on duty from Father’s Day weekend through to Labor Day weekend, between 9 am and 5 pm.
As with most Gloucester beaches, alcohol is prohibited as are inflatable objects and other flotation devices. Unfortunately, public parking spaces along the beach are reserved for beachgoers with resident beach stickers, so you will need to find an alternative parking space.
Luckily, the views from Plum Cove Beach are stunning enough that the walk there will definitely be worth the trouble. For couples, you’ll certainly want to pay this beautiful beach a visit if you’re looking for some romance at no charge.
6. Half Moon Beach
If you’re ever around the historic Stage Fort Park and need some cooling off, then the quaint Half Moon Beach is the perfect reprieve from a sunny day. Although the smallest of the Stage Fort Park beaches, it makes up for its size with its sheer beauty.
Named for its crescent shape, Half Moon Beach is intimate and surrounded by luscious trees and giant boulders. This makes for a uniquely shady spot that is perfect for both keeping the heat at bay and for some sweet seclusion from the business of the city.
Here, you can enjoy the water by partaking in some kayaking or paddleboarding. The extensive parkland above the beach also allows for some fun activities like Frisbee throwing or picnicking. Or for some romantic strolls when the sun sets – something you won’t want to miss.
Despite its rocky borders, the beach is handicapped accessible and even allows dogs – though not in the park. Lifeguards are on duty in the summer between 9 am and 5 pm, and restrooms can be found in the park.
Flotation devices and inflatables are not allowed on this beach, but that won’t dampen the fun to be had on this unique Gloucester beach.
Top Tip: If you’re looking to explore even more of Massachusetts, Half Moon Beach is only 50 minutes away from all the best things to do in Boston.
7. Cressy’s Beach
Also belonging to the historic Stage Fort Park, Cressy’s Beach is the largest of the park’s beaches. This rocky beach may not have soft sands perfect for sandcastles or sunbathing, but the gentle waves are great if you’re looking for a refreshing swim.
While certainly not among the most popular beaches in Gloucester, Cressy’s Beach is perfect for those looking for a quieter and more private experience.
There are picnic tables scattered across the beach that are great for hosting cookouts and enjoying the views of Gloucester Harbor.
There also are a few sandy spots that you can take advantage of for some much-needed lounging, though you may want to bring your rock shoes for walking or swimming. You are also allowed to bring your furry companion for some beach fun, as long as they are not brought into the park.
The Stage Fort Park, just behind the beachfront, also allows for some fun activities. The kids can run around playing games on the grassy fields while you lounge away on the sand with a good book.
The beach is also conveniently nearby the park’s restrooms and privately owned restaurants. Unfortunately, there are no lifeguards at this beach, and alcohol and inflatable beach toys are prohibited. Parking reservations are also required from non-resident beachgoers.
Final Thoughts on the Best Beaches in Gloucester
While Gloucester might not be the first place you hear about when talking about beachy vacations, it would surely be a mistake to overlook this city. Gloucester’s beaches are as gorgeous as they are unique, and you will be glad to have experienced their charm.
If you’re looking for some well-rounded family fun, then head down to Wingaersheek Beach. Or if it’s some intimate time with your lover you’re craving, then take a walk along Half Moon Beach. Whatever you may seek, Gloucester beaches have something for you.
So if you are planning on visiting these lovely beaches, make sure that you’re packing light. You don’t want any unnecessary baggage weighing you down as you see them all!
LET ME HELP YOU TRAVEL MORE BY GETTING ADDITIONAL TIPS AND INSPIRATION VIA THE MONTHLY NEWSLETTER.
Plus, receive a short e-book with 15 Beginner Tips and Tricks to Start Travel Hacking!