Cape Ann and its Beaches

The third of three blogs of Cape Ann is here. The focus of this post is the beaches of Cape Ann.  I will be honest that the water here are cooler than the more popular Cape in New England –(name unmentioned—-as this is not my focus).

Beaches of Cape Ann

One of the main attractions of Cape Ann during the summer months are the beaches. One can enjoy a relaxing walk along the many ocean beaches listening to the sound of waves. The trip is worth it to take in one of these sandy beaches some of which are popular while others offer a more intimate opportunity to take in the salty air. Here is a brief description of some of beaches around Cape Ann. Hope you enjoy!

Gloucester Beaches

Stage Fort Park

This park is probably the best alternative to the next beach option as there are two beach options here. Stage Fort has plenty of room for picnics, acres–in fact, a walking trail, rocks to roam on, a ball field, bathrooms, lifeguards, and a parking lot.  Parking will be free for the residents and paid fee for visitors.  Two beaches here off a contrasting appeal for visitors and residents alike.  Half Moon and Cressy’s beaches.

Half Moon Beach

Half Moon Gloucester
Half Moon Beach

This small and rather tucked away beach sits behind the Visitors Center. It is sandy and faces Gloucester Harbor. The rocky knoll behind the beach offers a nice contrast to the park setting and a way to get out of the heat of the day, if desired. You can sit and watch the fishing boats whale watching vessels, and other ships going in and out of the harbor throughout your day at the beach. Keep in mind this is small beach and can fill up rather quickly during high season.

Cressy’s Beach

Cressy's Beach Gloucester
Cressy’s Beach

This second option in Stage Fort Park is one that a contrast to your typical beach outing. It is combination of sand and rocks. It is often under used for this reason. You can find a wonderful spot here if you are looking for a more private beach escape. Cressy’s Beach is one that is less crowded. There is no lifeguard here the last time I checked. So keep this in mind.

Summary of Stage Fork Beach Options

  • Picnic tables and picnic areas nearby
  • Parking fee: $10.00 weekdays, $15 weekends and holidays.
  • Beach surface: Half Moon is sandy, Cressy’s is a mix of sand & stones
  • Play area: Lots of playground equipment, places to run around
    The Cupboard (snack bard):  across the park via access road, 1-2 minutes walk.
  • Lifeguards are on duty 9 am – 5 pm (Half Moon ONLY) in the high beach season (Memorial Day through Labor Day).

Stacey Boulevard-Beach

Pavillion Beach

Pavilion Beach Gloucester
Pavilion Beach

As former resident, I can’t forget to mention Pavilion beach. it is ideally located near the famous “Fisherman Statue” mentioned in my first post on Cape Ann.  It is not known as a ‘visitors’ beach as much as a residents beach. Still it is good place to walk along at low tide (seen above) to enjoy the views of Gloucester Harbor. I am not one to recommend swimming here as others may do, but this is just me.

West Gloucester

Wingaersheek Beach

This is one of the two most popular beaches on Cape Ann. So, plan accordingly during high season. This is also one of my favorite of the beaches along the Cape. This beach offers a long, wide, and sandy flat area to walk. The water is less rushing and the beach is surrounded by Ipswich Bay, the Annisquam River and several sand dunes. On a clear day, you can see a view of shoreline of NH. The kids will love the shallow water that this beach offers during low tide.

Summary of Wingaersheek

  • About 1/2 mile wide
  • No picnic tables or picnic area
  • Parking fee: $25 weekdays per vehicle, $30 weekends and holidays per vehicle.
  • Low, sandy, and flat.
  • Restroom and showers available 9 am – 6 pm (Memorial Day through Labor Day)
  • Occasional snack bar,  lifeguards 9 am – 5 pm (Memorial Day through Labor Day)

How to get here?—sometimes this is the challenge—

Directions: Take Rte. 128 North to Exit 13. At the bottom of the ramp, turn left onto Concord St and follow for about one to 1-½ miles. You will see a traffic island with a sign saying Wingaersheek Beach. Turn right onto Atlantic Street and follow to the end. Both Concord Street and Atlantic Street are narrow and windy roads with many curves. so please drive carefully and observe the speed limits not only for your own safety but for the safety of those who may be walking along the road. As you turn onto Atlantic Street, look for the beach parking lot.

If the “lot full” sign is out, it means that the lot is at capacity and is closed to non-residents and only those with a Gloucester beach sticker can gain access to the lot.

Route 127A

Good Harbor Beach

Perhaps the one beach that everyone knows Cape Ann for and visits as it is often very crowded. Good Harbor is well worth your visit. It is a New England iconic beach with plenty of parking, but don’t let this fool you as the parking lot will fill up during high season (Memorial Day through Labor Day).

Love this beach for its location and walkability. You can spend the day here taking in the ocean breeze, waves, and salt air. Walk from your hotel near by or jump in the car early and get your spot on this beach for the day!

Directions: From the end of Route 128 (the first set of lights) turn left, then right after the shopping plaza, then left. See the beach entrance a short distance ahead on the right.

Summary of Good Harbor Beach

  • The beach itself is about 1/2 mile long
  • Picnic tables at the rear, near the concession stand only.
  • Parking fee: $25 weekdays per vehicle, $30 weekends and holidays per vehicle.
  • Restroom and showers available 9 am – 6 pm (Memorial Day through Labor Day)
  • Beach surface: raked clean sand-a really beautiful sprawling beach
  • Located on Rte. 127A, Thatcher Road

The other beaches along Rt. 127A including the following:

Long Beach (in Gloucester and Rockport)

This long stretch of sandy beach covers both the Gloucester and Rockport city/town lines just off Rt. 127A (Thatcher Rd). It is a another east facing beach that offers a wonderful views of the twin lighthouses sitting on Thacher’s Island.

How to find this beach entrance? Look for the ice cream stand at the fork in the road just past Good Harbor Beach and turn onto Rockport Road. Don’t expect any public parking in this area, but some small private paid parking lots.

Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses

More information the Thacher Island can be found by visiting the:

Thacher Island Association 

Rockport Beaches


Cape Hedge Beach 

This is more a resident beach and can be found as you drive toward Rockport along Rt. 127A. This beach that is not often found by many people is located as you turn right at the Turk’s Head Inn looking for a small parking lot for Cape Hedge Beach. You will need a seasonal sticker and parking here is extremely limited. Also, don’t expect any services.

Front Beach

This beach is a very popular Rockport area beach in the downtown area on Sandy Bay. There is most (metered) parking here. I recommend parking someplace and walking or have somebody drop you off. Of course, you could use the Park & Ride lot on Rt 127A near the Rockport Information Booth, park and pay the ridiculously small fee, and ride the trolley to the beach.

The convenience of this beach is that it is also located to the many of the villages shops, restaurants, cafes, inns, and hotels.  During high season (Memorial Day through Labor Day) lifeguards are on duty. Public restrooms are nearby.

Summary of Cape Hedge Beach, Front Beach  

  • About 200 yards of sandy beach (at low tide) for these beaches
  • No picnic tables
  • Metered parking and resident (seasonal sticker), aggressive ticketing (be ready!)
  • Beach surface is sandy — good swimming.

Back Beach 

A beach I have to mention. This one is similar to Cressy’s Beach in Gloucester as it is  combination of rocks and sands. It is often more of an ‘explorer’ area where you can watch divers while enjoying the views and sea breeze. It is not necessarily good for just diving in the water. Also, another beach that will require a seasonal sticker.

Summary of Back Beach 

  • Combination of rocky and sandy beach
  • Small picnic area
  • Resident sticker (seasonal) only
  • Beach surface is sandy (at low tide)
  • Play area: None
  • Snack Bar: None, but lots of eateries and restaurants  just a short walk or drive to the village.

Where to Stay


Beauport Hotel (the old Bird’s Eye location)
*must check out the rooftop bar
Harborview Inn  This B & B is on Stacey blvd and directly across from the harbor. It offers a good option to be close to everything the Gloucester has to offer.
If a stay in an old Sea Captain’s house is your taste, this one may do just the trick.
Not as close as the others, but the views are great.
Checking out for other options

Check out Viator for ideas and things to do beyond the beach activities.


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I hope you enjoy your time on Cape Ann!

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