Though the distinctions are far from hard and fast, Wellfleet's fabulous ocean beaches tend to sort themselves demographically: LeCount Hollow is popular with families, Newcomb Hollow with high-schoolers, White Crest with the college crowd (including surfers and off-hour hang gliders), and Cahoon Hollow with 30-somethings. Only the latter two beaches permit parking by nonresidents ($15 per day). To enjoy the other two, as well as Burton Baker Beach, on the harbor, and Duck Harbor, on the bay, plus three freshwater ponds, you'll have to walk or bike in, or see if you qualify for a sticker ($35 for 3 consecutive days, $70 per week). Bring proof of residency to the seasonal Beach Sticker Booth, on the Town Pier, or call the Wellfleet Beach Sticker Office (tel. 508/349-9818). Parking is free at all beaches and ponds after 4pm.

  • Marconi Beach, off Marconi Beach Road, in South Wellfleet: A National Seashore property, this cliff-lined beach (with restrooms) charges an entry fee of $15 per day, or only $45 for the season. Note: The bluffs are so high that the beach lies in shadow by late afternoon.
  • Mayo Beach, Kendrick Avenue (near the Town Pier): Right by the harbor, facing south, this warm, shallow bay beach (with restrooms) is very central but will please young waders and splashers. This is one of the few beaches on the Cape with free parking. Make sure you go at high tide; at low tide, oyster farmers take over. You could grab a bite (and a paperback) at the Bookstore Restaurant across the street, which serves three meals a day and sells used books.
  • White Crest & Cahoon Hollow beaches, off Ocean View Drive, in Wellfleet: These two town-run ocean beaches -- big with surfers -- are open to all. As with all the oceanside beaches on the Outer Cape, large sand dunes border the beach, which is a wide-open and beautiful expanse. Both have snack bars and restrooms. What makes Cahoon Hollow Beach unique is the restaurant/nightclub, The Beachcomber, in the beach parking lot, so you can go straight from a day at the beach to an evening of live music and dancing. Parking costs $15 per day.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.