A Starter Guide to Cape Cod Camping: Enjoying the Beach

Updated August 17, 2021
woman walking on Cape Cod beach

Are you looking for the best camping that Cape Cod has to offer? Then you've come to the right place. Add these perfect Cape Cod camping sites to your bucket list, and have a summer you'll not soon forget.

Cape Cod

Located in eastern Massachusetts in the United States, Cape Cod has a small-town feel that, along with the large beachfront, attracts thousands of tourists during the summer. Along with the coastline, there are dunes and forests in the center of the island.

Walking bridge to Ridgevale Beach, Chatham, Cape Cod

To access Cape Cod, you must travel over the Sagamore or Bourne Bridge. Several railways also carry passengers and freight to the island. Travel by boat to the Cape is also available. The sound and islands that are considered part of the Cape are:

  • Nantucket Sound

  • Nantucket

  • Martha's Vineyard

  • The privately owned Elizabeth Islands

Fun Cape Cod Beach Camping Options

Options for beach camping in Cape Cod range from the simplicity of tents to luxury recreational vehicles (RV). Public and private beaches provide plenty of camping. Some of the campsites are directly on the sandy beach, while others are in organized campgrounds. The following are some of the more popular camping beaches on Cape Cod.

Cape Cod National Shoreline

In the lower cape, there is a national campground called Cape Cod National Seashore. This campground only offers RV camping; no tents or trailers are allowed. Campsites are available on a first-come basis. According to the National Park Service, there is a limit of 100 vehicles a night with a maximum stay of 21 days. Additionally, travel to the beach camping areas may be tricky, given the sand. Camping is only available from July 1st through Labor Day at Race Point Beach.

Cape Cod National Shoreline

Nickerson State Park

The Nickerson State Park offers 1,900 acres of wooded trails and ponds along with 400 campsites. There are RV sites and primitive sites available for campers. The cost is $22 for residents and $70 for non-residents. In addition to all nature has to offer, you can find boating, basketball, hiking, swimming, kayaking, and mountain biking to keep you occupied. The campground also has a playground and amphitheater to enjoy during your stay.

Nickerson State Park

Shawme-Crowell State Forest

Another option for Cape Cod enthusiasts is the Shawme-Crowell State Forest. Nestled on 700 acres of land, RVers and tenters can find a perfect place to set up shop among the 285 sites available. While the campground does not have hookups, it does have a dumping station. There is a two-night minimum stay during the open season, but campers can enjoy the serene forests for hiking and horseback riding. In addition to common showers and bathrooms, you can find a nature center, basketball courts, and playgrounds. Sites are $17 for residents and $54 for non-residents.

Shawme-Crowell State Forest

North of Highland

Located on 60 acres of pine forest, North of Highland is a private beach campground. While North of Highland doesn't offer RV camping, you can find sites available for tents and small trailer campers. Tenters have access to over 230 campsites that start at $48 a night. The campground boasts a short walk to Meadow Beach and prides itself on its clean, tranquil environment. When you're not soaking up the sun, you can take advantage of the large recreational center and playground.

North of Highland

Waquoit Bay Research Reserve

Camping on Waquoit Bay Research Reserve is very primitive. You need to take a boat out to the island of Washburn, which is part of the Cape. Camping is very inexpensive. There are no hookups, as this is strictly a tent-only campsite. Camping fees are $8 a night and up for the nine family sites. The reserve does have one site to accommodate large groups. When you're not taking in the beauty of this beach, you can enjoy the underdeveloped coastline with vegetation dating to WWI, along with coastal salt ponds.

Waquoit Bay Research Reserve

Bay View Campgrounds

Bay View is a luxury family campground with full hookups for tents, RVs, and trailers. The campground has pools, playgrounds, beaches, sports fields, and more. The rates for a stay start at $55 a night. In addition to the three pools, you can try out the sports fields, arcade, shuffleboard, and crafts. The campground also welcomes pets.

Bay View Campgrounds

Camping in Cape Cod

Since the climate is essential when considering Cape Cod beach camping, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the seasons and temperatures before planning your trip. Cape Cod is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, which directly influences the seasons. The spring and summer are late in coming, but the warm summer temperatures last into fall due to the ocean water staying warm. Check the Cape weather site to make sure the weather will be nice during your camping trip. The peak season or best season for Cape Cod beach camping is June through September. Additionally, this is when many campgrounds are open.

Things To Do

There are plenty of activities to keep you busy during your Cape Cod camping trip. In addition to spending plenty of time enjoying the sun, surf, and sand, you will not be disappointed in the restaurants and shops that dot the island.

  • Whale watching

  • Deep-sea fishing

  • Cruises

  • Watersports

  • Golf

  • Museum of Natural History

  • Hiking

  • Visits to the Native American monuments

  • Bike riding

Cape Cod Camping Experience

Camping in Cape Cod can offer a unique experience for everyone to enjoy on their beach vacation. Not only can you explore the ocean, but you can find unique wildlife all around you. With so much to do, your Cape Cod camping adventure is one you will not soon forget.

A Starter Guide to Cape Cod Camping: Enjoying the Beach