10 Best Beaches in New England
The beaches that stretch along New England’s coastline beckon both locals and tourists to their sandy shores. With so many choices, how do you decide which one is worth the trip? From warmest water to most scenic, we share our picks for the best beaches in New England.
Silver Sands State Park,
To find warmth, head south to the shallow slopes of Long Island Sound. The beach at Silver Sands State Park is small compared with other Connecticut state parks, but it is delightfully more remote.
It’s also far more affordable than many of the private town beaches in this part of Connecticut. A long boardwalk leads from the parking lot across a marsh (good for bird-watching, but not great if you’re carrying food, sand toys, and Junior).
Watch Hill, Rhode Island
With its highest point being a mere 812 feet, Rhode Island is not a place most folks think of when they want to take a hike. Yet it does have some of the longest beach strolls in New England. Napatree Point juts out from the village of Watch Hill on a wild strip of coastline, offering views of Connecticut and Fishers Island, New York.
Take off your shoes and listen to the waves as you saunter along the water all the way to the point of this crescent-shaped beach. The spit of land curves back toward Rhode Island, similar to how Provincetown lies at the tip of Cape Cod. Sailboats cruise Block Island Sound; ospreys and their young fly above the shores. As you reach the point and the last square foot of terra firma, the wind begins to howl, the surf seems a bit more ominous, and the sand is replaced by large battered rocks. On the return trip, you’ll be treated to a view of the Victorian houses that cling to the bluffs of Watch Hill.
Narragansett Town Beach,
Narragansett, Rhode Island
When hurricane swells from the Caribbean sweep up the Atlantic seaboard in the summer months, most people on the East Coast batten down their hatches and hide indoors. Everybody, that is, except surfers on the Rhode Island coast. Narragansett Town Beach is quickly gaining acclaim as the place to be when tropical depressions make their move north from mid-July to mid-September. The crescent-shaped beach and shifting sandbars often produce waves in excess of 10 feet.
Even without inclement weather, the surf is reasonably good all year. In the winter, there are swells in the 3- to 4-foot range. In summer, when the water often resembles a duck pond, you need patience. The best time for the sport is in the early-morning hours before the winds pick up. If the waves aren’t working at Narragansett, try Second Beach (Sachuset) in Middletown. Gansett Juice (74 Narragansett Ave.; 401-789-7890; gansettjuice.com) rents boards for the town beach and gives lessons.
Best for Solitude
Block Island, Rhode Island
A patch of grass lines a redbrick lighthouse that has been keeping watch on the southeast corner of Block Island for more than a century and a quarter. Below, sea-gouged clay cliffs plummet some 200 feet to a white crescent beach that serves as a welcome mat for the Atlantic surf. The lap of waves is interrupted only by the call of a goldfinch making its way north. To stand on this wild stretch of coastline below Mohegan Bluffs is to truly feel inconsequential.