As luck would have it, one of our favorite Chatham beaches, Harding’s, is also one of the closest to our Chatham hotel. Harding’s Beach is one of several in town that offers ample parking (daily fee charged), restrooms, and lifeguard protection. The beach is so large that even when the parking lot fills up, which it invariably does on summer days, you’ll still be able to find a spot on the beach all to yourself. Park in the second lot, the one farther from the entrance, and you will see Stage Harbor Light, a charming old lighthouse off in the distance. Should you be up for a walk, a trail leadingto the lighthouse and Stage Harbor, an inlet filled with gorgeous boats, is well worth exploring. If you’ll be spending the day, bring sandwiches or plan on hitting the “Snackmobile.”
At the foot of the iconic Chatham Lighthouse is an equally iconic beach. To describe Lighthouse Beach, the largest in town, as stunning would be vastly understating its beauty. A sandy island across the inlet creates a channel that tames wave heights, but it does create an undertow. This channel is used by Chatham’s famed fishing fleet, and the boat traffic only adds to the experience. With parking in the lookout above the beach limited to 30 minutes, parking is a challenge (details here). Meet that challenge, and you and your family will enjoy a beachside experience you will remember forever.
Like Harding’s Beach, Ridgevale Beach runs along Nantucket Sound, so waves are present, but never overpowering. This is another town beach with a large parking lot (daily fee) and lifeguards. Ridgevale also has a snack bar, and onsite boat rentals from Nauti Jane’s. A trail with a charming wooden footbridge runs along an inlet at the back side of the beach.
Oyster Pond Beach
Within walking distance of our Chatham hotel is Oyster Pond. It’s a sweet little spot that’s perfect for dipping your toes in the water, or letting little ones swim with few concerns over undertow. There is free parking here, but it’s a small lot and fills quickly. We suggest packing lightly – perhaps just a towel and sunscreen – and enjoying the walk.