If you are planning to bring your pooch to Cape Cod for some outdoor fun, knowing which beaches are dog-friendly will make the experience better for both of you.
It can be difficult to determine which beaches allow dogs and when. Some of the most popular beaches allow dogs year-round, but may not be appropriate for your pet. Others will only allow dogs in certain areas, or at specific times of the day or the year. Knowing the laws around when and where your favorite four-legged friend can enjoy a beach day on the Cape will help you decide which waterfront spot is right for you.
Are there any dog beaches on Cape Cod?
Not all beaches in the Cape Cod area are pet friendly, but some are. The best dog beaches in and around Cape Cod are:
- Race Point Beach
- Marconi Beach
- Coast Guard Beach
- First Encounter Beach
- Old Silver Beach
When looking for beaches that allow dogs, it’s important to make sure you choose a place that clearly states the rules around what’s allowed and what’s not.
For example, some of the beaches I’ve included may only allow dogs after the peak summer season is over. Others have policies around what part of the beach they can enjoy, based on the nesting season of various bird breeds that call Cape Cod home.
Almost all require dogs to be up to date on vaccinations and remain on a leash that is no longer than six feet. And then there’s the obvious rule – bring those poop bags and be prepared to clean up after your pet.
As an avid dog and beach lover, I know first-hand the joy of bringing my pup along for a day of surf, sand, and sun. Read on to discover which Cape Cod beach spot will work for you and your best fur friend.
5 Best Cape Cod Beaches for Dogs
When planning a vacation or day trip, the beach is an obvious choice for many of us. And, since dogs are as much a part of our families as our humans, it only seems logical we would want to include them in the holiday fun.
People who prefer to hit the beach with their pets are usually looking for certain things: expansive areas for long walks, nice views, easy access to the surf and sand, and adequate space so as not to disturb other beachgoers.
A place for shade and freshwater access are also pluses.
Though Cape Cod may seem small, its beach options are large. With over 500 miles of coastline, the Cape can offer something for everyone, but the more you know before you go, the better it will be for everyone.
Race Point Beach
Race Point Beach is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and is a great place for you and your dog to enjoy. Located at the furthest north point of the Cape, this highly ranked beach is only three miles from popular Provincetown and is a destination spot for dogs and their humans.
Though the beach boasts over three miles of sand to walk and explore, the dunes also make for some fun hiking and the sunsets are worth sitting down to watch.
This beach is also home to nesting Piper Plovers and other shorebirds, so be sure to keep your pets out of marked areas. During nesting season, certain parts of the beach are roped-off to not disturb or startle the birds off their nests.
Dogs are allowed year-round on the beach, as long as they are leashed. Though they aren’t allowed in lifeguard protected areas, you and your pooch can pass through these areas to get to some of the most scenic dunes on the Cape.
And don’t forget to make time for that sunset!
Another fun aspect of Race Point Beach is the seals. These feisty mammals are prevalent here and are great fun to watch.
Another common visitor is the great white shark, who feeds off the high-fat seals, so be vigilant about keeping your pet close when you venture into the water and adhering to the leash policy.
Like Race Point Beach, Marconi Beach is located on the Atlantic side of the Cape and is also part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Though a popular destination for pets and their people, Marconi has miles of pristine nature in all directions, so you and your four-legged pal will be easily entertained on this wide strip of sand.
Parking here is ample, but know that the stairs leading down to the beach are steep and may be challenging for smaller dogs or older pups.
Marconi Beach is also popular with surfers, and you can spend hours watching these water-lovers fine tune their sport. The riptide is strong here so be mindful of how far out into the water you choose to venture with your pet. The rocks may also be tough on sensitive paws (and feet!)
Dogs are allowed beyond the lifeguard protected sections in the summertime, which means you’ll have to walk a bit, but the wild beauty of this beach area is well worth it. Just remember that your dog is required to remain on a six-foot leash at all times and tickets will be handed out to violators.
As with Race Point Beach, this gem is home to a variety of nesting birds, so pay attention to signs that may be posted, asking you to stay out of certain areas. These signs can change at a moment’s notice, depending on the bird’s nesting patterns.
Coast Guard Beach
My third dog-friendly beach choice is Coast Guard Beach, which is located in Eastham and is the southernmost beach in the national seashore group.
Similar to Marconi Beach, you and your dog can enjoy miles of sand dunes and seal watching on this fairly remote stretch.
There is a long, wide ramp to get to the beach from the dunes that lead onto it, and no stairs, which makes it ideal for those pooches (and people) who may be a bit less agile.
From mid-June to Labor Day, there is only handicap parking available, so you and your four-legged friend will have to trek a bit, but the beauty of this beach is well worth it. (The walk to the beach is also pleasant and full of good people-watching!) As with the other beaches in the national seashore group, make sure your pet stays on a leash at all times.
Be aware that the water at Marconi Beach – though clear and cool – can get deep quickly. There’s also a fair amount of shark action because of the seals, and they will come closer to the shore than you might think.
Coast Guard Beach not only has well-maintained bathroom facilities, but there’s also a great outdoor shower area where both you and your pooch can de-sand before making the short walk back to your car.
First Encounter Beach
Located on the west side of the Cape, away from the Atlantic, First Encounter Beach is ideal for those dogs who love to roam, since at low tide you can venture out as far out as a mile into the water. Because it’s on the bay, there is very little surf.
There’s also plenty of tide pools for pooches and people who like to play in water, but aren’t interested in chasing the waves. And there are plenty of crabs to join in on your fun!
With a west-facing view, the sunsets on this bayside beach are really spectacular, but be mindful that the beach can get quite crowded at dusk. The parking lot is level with the beach and you will need a town parking sticker to use the lot.
If you don’t have one, there are other options close by. As of this writing, the entrance fee was $25.
Sadly, this is one of the beaches that doesn’t allow pets from the middle of June until the end of Labor Day weekend. There are also a number of bird nesting areas that have been designated as protected even during the off-season. You can walk your leashed pet through these areas to the stretches of beach that are not protected, but breaking the rules can get you fussed at or even ticketed.
Old Silver Beach
Tucked inside, on the western side of the Cape, Old Silver Beach is popular, and for good reason. Though the beach area itself is smaller than some of the others I’ve discussed, the water is warm, the sand is white and it’s an easy spot to get to, since it’s located near the beginning of the Cape and an easy drive from downtown Falmouth.
Though dogs are allowed, this may not be the best spot for an anxious one, because of the large crowds. If your pooch likes people and other pets, this is a beach not to miss.
Old Silver Beach slopes gently into the water, and the waves are light. Be aware that if you or your pet have sensitive feet, this beach can be quite rocky, especially during low tide.
This beach sits on Buzzards Bay and the parking lot is easily accessible. Prepare to spend around $20 to park.
Unfortunately, dogs are only allowed on this beach from October 2nd through April 3rd. Also know that Old Silver is split into two sections – one is for residents of Falmouth and the other is for the rest of us. Both areas have their own bathrooms, parking lots, and snack bar.
How Do You Prepare For A Beach Day With Your Doggie?
One of the reasons dogs are such popular pets is that they usually require pretty little maintenance for all that they give us in return. That said, a day at the beach can quickly become a nightmare if you don’t prepare ahead of time.
Making sure you’ve picked a dog-friendly beach is a big part of the planning. After that, here are a handful of suggestions to help make everyone’s sea day fun and hassle-free.
Pack It Up!
Just like you would do for yourself or your kids, make sure you bring the things your dog may need. Always carry water and a way to serve it. Having an extra leash, in case your original one breaks, is never a bad idea.
A bit of food or a bone for the ride home can remind your bestie why beach days are great days. And, if the day is super hot, you may want to consider bringing doggy booties for their paws. (Remember, the concentration of nerve endings on a dog’s paws can make them almost as sensitive as our bare feet.)
But Pack Light
If you are trekking on to one of the more remote beaches of Cape Cod, think long and hard about what to pack. As you will often be navigating stairs, dunes, and rough terrain, trying to carry a cooler, a chair, a beach bag, and lead your dog may prove to be more cumbersome than expected. Take what you need and leave the rest in the car.
Think About Others
As I mentioned before, if your dog tends to be anxious around people or isn’t fond of other dogs, you may want to think twice about taking them along for fun in the sun. A spot you and your dog will find enjoyable is probably one that others will, too.
Be prepared for the chance of encounters. And remember – just because you are following the leash laws, doesn’t mean everyone else is. A stray or loose dog could change your whole day.
Think About Yourself
It’s great if you think a day at the beach will be a bonding experience for you and your pet. But what if you decide you want some alone time? Maybe it’s a nice nap, a swim, or a drink at one of the beach restaurants? Think ahead about whether or not you are willing to commit your entire beach time to take care of your fur friend. If not, you may want to rethink if bringing them along is a good idea.
Think About The Beach
Whether it’s respecting the marine and wildlife, following the rules that restrict certain areas or making sure you are cleaning up after your dog, remember the same golden rule you would apply if you only brought humans with you to the shore – leave the beach better than you found it.
Our coastlines are some of our most beautiful and treasured spaces and we want them to be around for many more years of enjoyment.