Answer: Herring Cove, hands down.
Around the bend from Race Point, Herring Cove offers a protected beach that is ideal for those who want to enjoy the sea without challenging waves and unpredictable undertows. This beach is also usually warmer and less windy than Race Point.
Traditionally the right hand side of the beach attracts more locals and is family friendly, while the left is more gay-friendly. If you want to totally immerse yourself in nature without the crowds, walk north towards Hatches Harbor and Race Point lighthouse.
Gray seals often swim parallel to this shoreline or bask in the sun on land. Whale spouts dot the horizon and you may even see a breach. Sunset is showtime at Herring Cove and this is the place to be for a spectacular view. The light at the end of the day at Herring Cove is unparalleled as this is one of the few places on the east coast where the sun sets into the ocean.
As part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, the newly build bathhouse at Herring Cove has food service provided by Far Land Provisions, picnic tables, showers, bathrooms and changing rooms. The beach and swimmers are protected by Seashore lifeguards and rangers.
Parking is available for a fee but is free after 6pm. There are two lots. The smaller parking lot to the right, which directly abuts the beach, is ideal if you tend to be weighed down with toys, beach umbrellas and a car full of eager children. The larger lot by the bathhouse has more parking and the beach at this end is wider but does entail a short walk through the dunes to get to the shore.
The Travel Channel has named Herring Cove Beach as one of America’s Best All-Time Beaches by Region. They gave it particularly high marks for swimming, sand quality and atmosphere.
How to get there: By car – Take Route 6 past Provincetown center to the end and follow the signs. By Town Shuttle – wait in front of the Bas Relief Park and make sure to wave so the shuttle will stop for you. By bike – take Bradford Street to the end, turn right and follow the signs to the bike trail.
The Cape Cod National Seashore is managed under the U.S. National Park Service. Marconi Headquarters 99 Marconi Site Road, Wellfleet, MA 02667 508-771-2144
The snack concession is managed by Far Land Provisions 150 Bradford Street, Provincetown 508-487-0045
To obtain a beach fire permit go to the Province Lands Visitors Center at 171 Race Point Road, off Route 6. Open daily from May 1 through October 31, from 9am to 5pm. 508-487-1256