June 22, 2020
10 Buzzards Bay Boater’s Beaches
Looking for some good spots to spend a sunny day on Buzzards Bay? Check out these 10 boater-friendly beaches!
Buzzards Bay is better known for its fine sailing waters than its beaches, yet it’s still possible to find a few sandy spots to go ashore, play, picnic, swim or relax—without a town permit or permission from a landowner. And while the following strands—some big, some tiny—might not compare to those in the tropics, we’ll take ‘em as uniquely New England! Text & Photos by Tom Richardson
Onset Bay, Onset
Onset boasts one of the longest and most surprising natural-sand beaches in the Bay. And talk about protected! You can easily beach a kayak or dinghy along the shore and enjoy the calm, warm waters, or explore upstream into adjoining Sunset Cove or Broad Cove. There are several restaurants within walking distance of the waterfront, including Stash’s on the Pier, Quahog Republic and Marc Anthony’s Pizzeria. Ice cream and other treats can be purchased at Nana’s, on Onset Ave.
Long Beach Point, Wareham
At the mouth of the Wareham River, opposite Swifts Beach, Long Beach Point is a long sandbar that’s all but covered at high tide. It’s popular among Upper Bay boaters, as it offers protection from the southwest wind and is bordered by relatively deep water with good holding ground on its northern side. On fine summer days, the point is crowded with families and picnickers, many of whom also dig for clams at low tide. The waters here warm fast in June and stay that way well into fall, making it a good spot for swimming. As a bonus, the shallow sand flats extending to the south are ideal for dipnet-bearing kids to explore.
Phinney’s Harbor, Bourne
Here’s a gem for small-boaters seeking a super-protected spot near the mouth of the Cape Cod Canal and easily accessible from Monument Beach and Onset Bay. The bowl-shaped Phinneys Harbor is bordered by beach along the isthmus to Mashnee Island. The surrounding depths are very shallow at low tide, limiting access to shallow-draft boats. In late summer and fall, the harbor and nearby Back River can yield excellent fishing for bass, blues, and even false albacore in late summer and early fall.
Bassetts Island, Bourne
Perhaps the best known and most heavily used public boater’s destination in the Bay, Bassets Island in Red Brook Harbor remains a wonderful place to hang out. Much of the island’s southern shore is ringed by sand, with relatively deep, rock-free water nearby, so there’s plenty of room to spread out or get away from the noisier groups. The large sand flat off the southern tip of the island is a great place for kids to splash around, and there’s a wide, deep area for tubing off the western shore. If you get hungry or thirsty, the renowned Chart Room restaurant at Kingman Yachting Center has you covered. A note of caution: poison ivy thrives in the interior of the island, so take care if you or your children get the urge to explore. Also, there are no public restrooms on the island.
Sippewisset Beach, Falmouth
When it comes to kid-friendly spots, this beach at the mouth of Great Sippewisset Creek in West Falmouth fills the bill. The warm, clear water and hard-sand bottom along much of the beach is ideal for swimming, but it’s the creek itself that makes the place extra special. On a high tide, you can explore deep into the marshes with a kayak or paddleboard. Then, as the tide drops, you can ride the current as it flows out of the creek and into the Bay. Bring a snorkel mask to spy on marine life as you float over the deeper holes. Low tide is a great time to hunt for blue crabs, which are abundant starting in midsummer.
Newbie boaters should approach the beach carefully, as there are some nasty rocks that lurk between the shore and Great Sippewisset Rock (marked by a small daymarker). Also, be mindful of the depth as the tide drops. Small skiffs can usually be anchored within wading distance of shore, but you may have to re-anchor due to tide changes or a wind shift. Since Sippewisset faces west, it’s exposed to the prevailing southwesterlies that blow up on summer afternoons, so make note of this if you need to cross the Bay to get home.
Meadow Island, Marion
Tiny Meadow Island (really a sandbar) is private, but its owner graciously allows the public to bring their kayaks, dinghies, Sunfish, Hobie Cats, and other small craft there and enjoy the course-sand beach and surrounding waters. The low-lying island is best approached from Marion’s Inner Harbor, which offers deeper water and wind protection.
West Island, Fairhaven
West Island features a series of “micro beaches” along the eastern shore of West Island State Reservation in Fairhaven. These small beaches are well protected from prevailing southwest winds, and offer an easy down-sea run back to the ramp or mooring for boaters launching from Wareham, Marion, and Mattapoisett. The major drawback to this spot is an abundance of rocks, so you’ll need to pick your way in carefully. Once ashore, kids can have a blast exploring the shallows, which are home to crabs, periwinkles and other items of interest to young minds. There’s good clamming and fishing here, as well, but make sure you have a license. And if you want to stretch your legs, you can wander the winding shoreline or hike the trails that lead through the wooded reservation.
Weepecket Island, Gosnold
The Weepeckets are a trio of rocky islets, the largest of which features a fine-sand beach and steep drop-off. Depending on the size and draft of your vessel, you can either nose your bow onto the sand or anchor just offshore and dinghy or swim ashore. If sailing from the upper bay, try to arrive before noon, so you can surf your way home in relative comfort when the southwesterlies begin to howl. Note that the island serves as a large seagull rookery, which means it can be quite aromatic when the wind is wrong. And don’t be surprised if your four-year-old surprises you with a bleached bird bone he found on his explorations. Nevertheless, kids will love the adventure of visiting the Weepeckets, which seem straight out of a pirate book, and the swimming and even snorkeling are first-rate.
Kettle Cove, Gosnold
Kettle Cove, on the north side of Naushon Island, is one of a handful of spots in the privately owned Elizabeths chain where the public is allowed to go ashore. The beach that skirts the cove is small, but features fine, white sand and clear water that invites snorkeling and swimming. Small craft can pulled right up to the beach as long as you keep clear of the scattered but clearly visible rocks. Larger vessels will need to be anchored just offshore. Kettle Cove is well protected from southerly winds, which makes it a great spot during the summer. Just be sure to heed the signage and do not wander inland. And be aware that there are no public restrooms.
West Beach, Gosnold
Like Kettle Cove, West Beach is another section of the Naushon Island shore that can be accessed by the boating public. The beach rivals those found in southern climes in terms of sand quality and water clarity, but swimmers should heed the strong currents flowing through nearby Robinsons Hole. Due to the clear water, this is a good spot for snorkeling.