Beaches & Islands - 19 min read

20 Best Clear Water Beaches in Massachusetts (To Enjoy with Family)

Margaret Carter

Margaret Carter, Updated September 27, 2022

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Massachusetts is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in America. Between the miles of sandy paradise along Cape Cod and the picturesque boulders of the North Shore, 200 miles of varied coastland boasts a wide variety of beaches, each more beautiful than the last.

You’ll also find many lesser-known lakeside beaches and swimming holes that offer all the fun of the coastal waters without the touristy feel. The great thing about Massachusetts is there is something for everyone.

You can spend days touring lighthouses, trekking hiking trails, splashing in the water, photographing sunsets, or simply sipping a drink by the sea. It’s the perfect destination for families or couples, and you might even find that a solo trip is relaxing and rejuvenating.

Below, you’ll find the best of the best with a few tips on what to do at each beach. Bon voyage!

1. Singing Beach

Credit: Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

One of the world’s greatest mysteries, Singing Beach in Manchester by the Sea, may look like a typical beach, but when you step on it during a dry and windy day, you’ll find that it sings.

Depending on the weather and time of year, you can get anything from a barking tempo to a beautiful yet eerie twang. While many videos online try to capture the sounds, you truly have to hear them yourself in person to get the full effect. 

Alongside this incredible oddity, the water and sand are picturesque, with the beach lasting nearly half a mile before you hit the water’s edge. Once there, you’ll find beautiful boulders to explore within the water with abundant north coast sea life in the smaller pools. 

Be sure to check the website below for details about closings, parking, and fees, as well as when lifeguards are on duty. It fluctuates yearly but is updated regularly. You’ll also find a bathhouse open during the summer!

Address: 119 Beach St, Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA 01944
Phone Number: (978) 526-2019
Website: https://www.manchester.ma.us/Facilities/Facility/Details/Singing-Beach-11
Best Time of Year to Visit: Dry and windy days in spring and fall
Google Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

2. Burbank Park Beach

Credit: Bonnie Kittle / Unsplash

Located on Onota Lake in Pittsfield, Burbank Park Beach is a lovely public beach with lifeguards on duty. The park has 153 acres of beautiful lakeside forests and pristine sand with 617 acres of water.

It’s best for fishing, swimming, and tubing. It has a public boat launch, and there are a few boat rental places nearby so that you can make an entire day of fun for the whole family. 

During the summer, they run a Live on the Lake concert series near the beach, so be sure to check the schedule and see who is playing. There’s also plenty of green space to throw frisbees, relax, picnic, and enjoy the sun. 

Address: Burbank Park, Pittsfield, MA 01201
Phone Number: (413) 499-9344
Website: https://onotalake.com/about-the-lake/public-beach/
Best Time of Year to Visit: July to August
TripAdvisor Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

3. Lake Mansfield

Credit: Aaron Burden / Unsplash

Lake Mansfield in Great Barrington is an excellent choice if you want a beach with clear water surrounded by wild beauty. While small, it’s rarely crowded and is the perfect place for a family day of fun.

There are walking trails throughout the area and lifeguards on duty more often than not. The swimming section is cordoned off, but no motorized vehicles are allowed in the lake, so the water remains calm and safe.

It may seem odd to choose a small lake beach over an epic Cape Cod promenade, but if you’re looking for something that isn’t inundated with tourists, this is your best bet.

You can even bring a BBQ and spend the afternoon watching the kids play! You’ll also find a small playground with plenty of shade to beat the summer heat. 

Address: 45 Lake Mansfield Rd, Great Barrington, MA 02130
Website: https://www.gbland.org/lake-mansfield
Best Time of Year to Visit: June to August
Google Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

4. Shannon Beach at Mystic Lake


Shannon Beach in Mystic Lake State Park is one of the top choices in Medford. It’s known for epic swimming along a beautiful lakeside beach, with ample room to play in the surrounding grassy park.

You can also go sailing, rowing, or paddling in Upper Mystic, or use a motorized boat without a wake in Lower Mystic, so you have many options! 

The water is shallow near the beach, perfect for new swimmers or anyone looking to cool off near the shore quickly, and deeper waters are offered further out.

You’ll also find a few fantastic hidden swimming spots around other parts of the lake. A recently reconstructed bath house provides comfort for those in need, too! 

Address: 481 Mystic Valley Pkwy, Medford, MA 02155
Phone Number: (617) 727-5380
Website: https://www.mass.gov/locations/mystic-lakes-state-park
Best Time of Year to Visit: June to August
Google Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

5. Breezy Picnic Grounds

Credit: BreezySummer

Another great inland swimming option is Breezy Picnic Grounds. You’ll find a beach, several water slides, and beautiful water without worrying about the undertow or beach partiers.

It’s located right in south central Massachusetts, with easy access for residents of Rhode Island and Connecticut as well. 

It’s family-owned and very well taken care of, so you can have an entire day of fun with unlimited rides down the water slides without worrying about a thing. You’ll also find a snack bar, picnic area, mini slide, and ample shade. 

Two major perks are that lifeguards are always on site and the Whitin Reservoir boasts some of the clearest water around. The water slides are 300 feet long, so the kids (and adults) are sure to have a blast! 

Address: 520 N W Main St, Douglas MA 01516
Phone Number: (508) 476-2664
Website: https://breezysummer.com
Best Time of Year to Visit: June to August
Google Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

6. Spectacle Island


If you’re looking for something close to Boston, Spectacle Island is just twenty minutes away. You can access it by ferry within Boston Harbor and spend the day soaking up rays on the sand or playing in the water.

There is a local Café for eats and treats, as well as a marina if you’d like to rent your own boat and go out. It’s the best option for a day trip that gets you out of the busy city without having to spend hours traveling.

Even better, you can explore the entire 114-acre island and take breaks from the beach to go hiking or picnicking.

If you love searching for exceptional sea glass specimens, this is the place to do it! Sadly, you can’t take it with you, but if you find a worthy piece, you can take it to the visitor center, and they’ll put it on display! 

Address: Spectacle Island, Boston, MA 02171
Website: https://www.bostonharborislands.org/spectacle-island/
Best Time of Year to Visit: May to October
TripAdvisor Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

7. Chatham Lighthouse Beach


While Chatham Lighthouse itself is only open for select hours each week, it marks a beautiful Lighthouse Beach that’s perfect for a calm day along the waterside.

The water is studded with starfish, and there is plenty of room to lay out in the sun on the sand. It’s located along the Atlantic coast across from North Shore Beach, and sand bars provide protection from larger waves. 

It’s very rarely crowded if you avoid mid-summer days, and even then, you won’t find yourself packed onto the sand like some of the other beaches in Massachusetts.

Keep in mind that the water is pretty cold. Still, it’s a true gem in Chatham and a must-see if you’re nearby. Be sure to take your own umbrella and pack a picnic lunch! 

Address: 37 Main St, Chatham, MA 02633
Phone Number: (508) 945-3830
Website: https://www.capecodlighthouses.info/chatham-light/
Best Time of Year to Visit: June to August
Google Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

8. Upper Goose Beach

Credit: GoosePondMA

Some of the clearest water in Massachusetts is hidden along a 3.5-mile hiking trail on Upper Goose Pond in Becket. While not your traditional beach setup, this natural pond boasts more privacy than any other public access spot in the state, with water so clear you can see straight to the bottom.

Keep in mind it’s a decent hike in and out along the Appalachian Trail. You’ll need proper footwear, snacks, and water to get there and back safely. Still, as long as you’re prepared, you’ll have a blast!

Be sure to put your swimsuits on before you go, as there aren’t any changing facilities. Even if you choose a different beach on this list, you’ll want to make this trip eventually. It’s the epitome of a well-known hidden gem! 

Address: Upper Goose Pond, MA 01238
Website: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/massachusetts/upper-goose-pond
Best Time of Year to Visit: June to September
AllTrails Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

9. Wendell State Forest and Ruggles Pond

Credit: Jorge Garcia / Unsplash

Wendell State Forest has a lovely little beach for day trip fun in a nearly 8,000-acre park. You can take non-motorized vehicles and go kayaking, paddling, swimming, or canoeing along the water.

A lovely stream connects the two lakes, so you’ll have tons of room to play, and the beach itself is well-maintained. It’s a popular spot for rock climbing, biking, hiking, and horseback riding, so if you want to make an overnight trip by staying in a local bed and breakfast, feel free!

You’ll also find lots of things to do nearby, like Magic Wings Butterfly Nature Conservatory, Poet’s Seat Tower, and Historic Deerfield, a 330-year-old Massachusetts village. 

Address: 392 Montague Rd, Wendell, MA 01379
Phone Number: (413) 659-3797
Website: https://www.mass.gov/locations/wendell-state-forest
Best Time of Year to Visit: June and August
TripAdvisor Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

10. Hathaway’s Pond

Credit: Brian Tracy / Cape Cod Wave

Hathaway’s Pond, located in Hyannis, boasts two decent-sized beaches with plenty of room to play and swim. The water is calm and clear, offering a safe place to let loose for summer fun. We’re talking pristine white sand and sparkling water!

There is plenty of shade and a lovely picnic area, as well as tons of nearby hiking trails through a pine forest. It’s rated one of the best swimming holes in Massachusetts due to its charming visage and relaxed atmosphere. 

The best part is that it’s so close to the Cape, tourists don’t even think to go! You’ll find you get all the perks of being near the best tourist attractions while feeling like you’re hidden far away from the hustle and bustle. It also has bathroom facilities and lifeguards on duty during the summer months. 

Address: Hathaway’s Pond, Hyannis, MA 02630
Website: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/massachusetts/hathaways-pond-loop
Best Time of Year to Visit: May to August
TripAdvisor Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

11. Long Pond

Credit: Alan Labisch / Unsplash

Like many of the other beaches on this list, Long Pond Beach is a lakeside destination that you won’t want to miss. It’s near Cape Cod and offers a kayak launch, picnic areas, shady places to relax, and more.

The pond itself is one of the largest in Massachusetts, at nearly 1,800 acres. It connects to Assawompset Pond and falls between Lakeville and Freetown within the southeastern part of the state. 

The pond isn’t deep, at a maximum depth of ten feet, so it’s excellent for littles learning to kayak or canoe, but watch out for water hazards.

A Sunken Island is hiding beneath the crystalline surface. It also has eleven full miles of shoreline, so you’ll be able to find a secluded spot to hangout with family and friends if that’s what you’re after.

Address: Long Pond Rd, Brewster, MA 02631
Website: https://www.mass.gov/doc/long-pond-information-sheet/download
Best Time of Year to Visit: June to August
TripAdvisor Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

12. South Beach

Credit: MV Vacation / Unsplash

Martha’s Vineyard is a breathtaking island along the southern territory of Cape Cod and is home to one of the top beaches in Massachusetts, South Beach.

This is the perfect beach if you’re looking for epic waves in a cozy town setting and ample sand that provides pockets of seclusion even on the most crowded days. 

The sand drops off close to the water’s edge, making this one of the top spots for water sports like surfing, boogie boarding, and kite surfing, but not so great for families with little kids.

This might work in your favor if you’re on a romantic getaway from the kids or taking a weekend to yourself. Parking restrictions change from day to day, so be sure to check the website below before you go. The beach is free and open to the public. 

Address: 128 Herring Creek Rd, Edgartown, MA 02539
Phone Number: (508) 627-6145
Website: https://www.edgartown-ma.us/departments/parks
Best Time of Year to Visit: April and September (fewer crowds)
TripAdvisor Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

13. Billingsgate Shoal

Credit: moldychum / Flickr

Once a thriving 60-acre community of homes for fishermen, Billingsgate Island started to disappear in the 1800s and fully submerged in the early 1900s.

What’s been left behind is a beautiful stretch of empty beach with evidence of homesteads within the surrounding water. It’s off the coast of Eastham and has been monikered “The Atlantis of Cape Cod.”

During low tide, you can explore the different underwater structures, though most were floated to the mainland, so families didn’t lose their homes.

It now boasts abundant sea life and a bevy of seabirds. It’s not landlocked, so you’ll need to wade out to the sea bar or take a small non-motorized boat. Either way, it’s not difficult to access.

Just keep in mind there are no bathroom facilities, so you might want to plan just a handful of hours out on the sand. 

Address: Billingsgate Shoal, Eastham, MA 02642
Website: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/billingsgate-island
Best time of Year to Visit: Summer months during low tide
Google Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

14. Scargo


Scargo is a public beach located in Dennis on Scargo Lake. It’s a fantastic place to take the pups or kids for a day of sandy fun with crystal clear water and plenty of park space to explore.

Locals say it has the cleanest water and is perfect for kayaking and swimming. It’s within walking distance to the Atlantic coast, so you can spend the day having a seaside swim and then walk the five minutes for a dip in the lake. 

It’s also a fantastic spot to fish, with a great selection of species to wrangle. Just know in advance that there is a $25 parking fee, so this isn’t the place to go if you’re trying to avoid the parking fees closer to the ocean. Still, that fee is entirely worth it for such an amazing body of water. 

Address: Dr. Lord’s Rd S, Dennis, MA 02638
Phone Number: (508) 760-6159
Website: https://www.town.dennis.ma.us
Best Time of Year to Visit: June to August
Google Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

15. Morses Pond Beach


Morses Pond Beach is a hidden gem in Wellesley. It has a large beach that is dog-friendly, free parking, several benches along the shoreline, and some of the most breathtaking scenery around.

It’s not crowded at any given time, but that’s mainly because it’s only open to locals unless you purchase a season pass. Honestly, it’s worth the money if you’re looking for that perfect beachside getaway with a heavy dose of serenity. 

This is a top pick for those who want to get away from it all and have a peaceful time without towing the family along.

It’s still great for kids, but with such an amazing atmosphere, take that time for yourself and your partner. If you take the kids along, you’ll find a shady playground for them to take breaks from the water and sun! 

Address: Turner Rd, Wellesley, MA 02482
Website: https://wellesleyma.gov
Best Time of Year to Visit: June and August
Google Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

16. Good Harbor Beach


Good Harbor Beach is a charming little stretch of sand in Gloucester surrounded by small islands and rocky outcrops, making it a premium destination for calm paddle boarding and swimming along the edge of the sea.

It’s a very popular spot for both tourists and locals, so you’ll want to plan ahead and be sure to have a parking pass well in advance. If you’re not a resident, you won’t be allowed in without a reservation. 

At low tide, you’ll find an amazing stretch of sand perfect for strolling, sand castle building, shell hunting, and playing in the shallows. High tide offers better swimming, but no flotation devices are allowed for safety reasons. 

Address: 99 Thatcher Rd, Gloucester, MA 01930
Phone Number: (978) 281-9785
Website: https://www.gloucester-ma.gov/299/Beach-Information
Best Time of Year to Visit: August
TripAdvisor Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

17. Green River Beach

Credit: Green River Swimming & Recreation Facilities / Facebook

Green River is a recreational and swimming facility in Greenfield. It boasts bike racks, picnic tables, tons of benches along the beach, a showering facility, a playground, and more. There is even a swimming pool within the stream and a toddler play area! 

Due to all the fantastic opportunities for play, it’s very busy, but this provides tons of opportunities for your kids to make friends while you relax by the waterside.

Unlike many beaches on this list, there isn’t a lake or pond. It’s simply a riverside treasure that locals and tourists alike find perfect for a day out. 

Address: 1 Nash’s Mill Rd, Greenfield, MA 01301
Phone Number: (413) 772-1553
Website: https://www.greenfieldrecreation.com/greenriver.html
Best Time of Year to Visit: June to August
Google Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

18. Wingaersheek Beach


Wingaersheek Beach is a boulder-studded stretch of sand in Gloucester that is perfect for low tide exploration. The vast swaths of sand provide plenty of room, but it’s such a lovely and well-known area that it can get rather crowded.

It’s best to get there early in the day, so you get a premium patch of sand to set up on. This is the perfect spot to take younger children since you won’t have to worry about big waves and undertow.

It’s also home to thousands of hermit crabs, so if you have a little explorer, they’ll be happy all day chasing them across the sands.

It’s important to note that only residents will get access if they show up the day of. Those who don’t live nearby need to book a parking reservation at least ten days in advance. 

Honestly, it’s so beautiful there that it’s the top spot for engagement and wedding photography in the area, as well as family photos. Be sure to book a photo session in advance so you always have something to remember your trip. 

Address: 298 Atlantic St, Gloucester, MA 01930
Website: https://gloucester-ma.gov/299/Beach-Information
Best Time of Year to Visit: May and September
TripAdvisor Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

19. Shore Park

Credit: Aaron Burden / Unsplash

Shore Park Beach is located on Indian Lake in Worcester, with beautifully updated bathroom facilities, walkways, a lovely playground, and the perfect beach for the kids.

It previously scored low in reviews due to dirty water and outdated facilities, but Worcester has put in the hard work to clean the lake and surrounding area up, elevating it to a true oasis within the city. 

The beach itself is large, with plenty of room to stretch out and build sand castles, and the water is shallow enough along the edge for young kids to splash and enjoy the feeling of sand between their toes. 

Address: 115 Shore Dr, Worcester, MA 01605
Website: https://www.worcesterma.gov/city-parks/shore-park
Best Time of Year to Visit: July and August
Google Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

20. Coast Guard Beach


Coast Guard Beach in Eastham is known for its beautiful dunes with marshy inlets along the Cape. It’s the perfect spot for seal sightings and makes for a great day out in the water, whether you are swimming, sunbathing, or bird watching.

During certain parts of the year, you’ll find an off-roading path open for exhilarating fun, but please keep in mind that it closes when the shorebirds, such as plovers and terns, begin to build their nests. 

The crystal clear waters and lush brown sand will remind you of something tropical, but the backdrop is purely Cape Cod, with the signature white buildings and gabled roofing.

While you’re there, pull up a map and check out Nauset Marsh behind the old lifeguard station during the summer, and Nauset Spit, a prime seal-watching islet, during the winter.  

Take note that during the mid-summer months, close parking is only available for residents or differently abled. 

Address: 2 Ocean View Dr, Eastham, MA 02640
Website: https://www.nps.gov/caco/planyourvisit/coast-guard-beach-eastham.htm
Best Time of Year to Visit: May, June, September, and October
Google Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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