The dog friendly beaches Cape Cod has to offer are some of the most beautiful on the east coast.
With the coastline sprawling over 500 miles alongside the Atlantic Ocean, you and your four-legged friends will find plenty of spots to play, splash, and explore.
Visiting Cape Cod With Your Dog
Is Cape Cod Dog-Friendly?
The peninsula of Cape Cod stretches from the bustling summertime haven of Provincetown in the Northeast, all the way to the small village of Woods Hole in the South. Hugged by the ocean on both sides, it is any beach-goer’s dream. Dogs are no exception!
While the rules for dogs visiting Cape Cod may make planning a little ruff, there is no shortage of pet-friendly beaches or activities along the peninsula.
Are Dogs Allowed on Cape Cod Beaches?
Whether or not dogs are permitted on the beach varies from town to town, and from season to season. Visiting in the off-season will give you a wider range of spots to choose from.
Rules for Dogs Visiting Cape Cod
Since Cape Cod is such a large area, the rules for dogs change dramatically from town to town. Regulations also vary depending on whether the beach is managed by the National Seashore, or by the Massachusetts State Parks System.
National Seashore Rules for Dogs
- Dogs must be leashed at all times.
- Leashes must not be longer than six feet.
- Dogs are not permitted in signed shorebird use areas at any time.
- Dogs are not permitted on lifeguard-protected beaches during the summertime unless they are passing through on a leash to access an area where pets are otherwise allowed.
At times, rules and regulations will change depending on nesting shorebirds. You can find the most recent information on section closures on the National Seashore website.
Massachusetts State Parks System Rules for Dogs
- All dogs must be wearing a collar with current tags for their license and rabies vaccine.
- Numbers must be kept to a maximum of four dogs per person.
- Dogs must be on-leash in parking lots.
- When leashes are required, they must not exceed ten feet in length.
- You must be able to control your dog in off-leash areas, whether this is by voice control or electronic training collar.
- Dogs must remain in their owner’s sight at all times when off-leash.
- Off-leash dogs must be able to come immediately on command.
- Dogs are not permitted on coastal beaches or in designated swimming areas of inland beaches from May 1 through September 15, unless otherwise posted.
- From April 1 each year, dogs are not permitted on beaches that have been designated as nesting habitats for shorebirds.
Don’t worry, we found it a little confusing at first too! To make for smoother planning, we’ve mapped out the best dog-friendly Cape Cod beaches from north to south… as well as their individual rules and requirements.
The Best Cape Cod Dog Friendly Beaches
No matter where you’re staying along the Cape, we’ve found the perfect beach for you! These are our favorite dog-friendly beaches, tried and tested.
Dog-Friendly Beaches in Provincetown
Herring Cove Beach
Herring Cove Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Provincetown. Its sheltered location and smaller waves make it the perfect holiday spot for smaller or more anxious pups.
If you’re visiting between Memorial Day and Columbus Day, you’ll also find the Herring Cove Snack Bar open. Keep your eyes peeled for evening concerts throughout the summer, too.
As Herring Cove is operated by the National Seashore, dogs do not have access to the life-guarded section of Herring Cove. Thanks to its size, however, this really isn’t a loss. If anything, it makes for a much calmer experience away from the crowds.
A stroll and a swim at the Breakwater Walk are a must for anyone visiting Cape Cod. Explore the Provincetown Causeway, which extends to a beautiful section of secluded shoreline perfect for pups, and pay a visit to the Wood End Lighthouse or the Long Point Lighthouse.
This walk can take anywhere from one to two hours depending on your pace. The causeway is rocky, has no shade, and can get quite warm. Be sure to protect your pet’s paws and treat them to a swim at the end.
Dogs must be leashed at all times while exploring the causeway and surrounding beaches. Remain aware of your surroundings, as the changes in the tide can cut off sections of the walk.
Dog Beach, Provincetown
The name says it all, really! Dog Beach is located in Provincetown’s West End and is open to off-leash dogs all year round.
This piece of the coast is flat and quiet. It’s a paw-fect choice for pets of all ages and abilities, so long as they’re comfortable around unleashed dogs.
While it isn’t anything overly exciting in terms of its landscape, Dog Beach is still a beautiful spot and a great place for some unimpeded play.
Dog-Friendly Beaches in Truro
Head of the Meadow Beach, Truro
Head of the Meadow Beach is open to dogs all throughout the off-season. During the summertime, your four-legged friend is welcome to explore the rest of the beach so long as they remain leashed and don’t linger in lifeguard-patrolled areas.
Don’t let these rules dissuade you, however. This Truro beach is perfect if you like to combine your beach trip with a quick hike. The Head of the Meadow Bicycle Trail is a brisk, two-mile-long walk and is always open to pets.
From the trail, you can find a secluded spot to enjoy the dunes with your dog. Keep your eyes peeled for sharks and seals.
Corn Hill Beach, Truro
We loved stopping by this beach in the early hours of the morning. The steady, flat surface of the water makes for a great sunrise spot. Plus, we met plenty of dogs out for their morning walk!
Visiting during the warmer months? Corn Hill welcomes dogs before 9 am and after 6 pm all summer long. Watch out for areas closed to protect the nesting plovers.
Throughout the rest of the year, dogs are welcome at any time so long as they remain leashed.
Dog-Friendly Beaches in Wellfleet
This stretch of the coastline is home to some amazing sand dunes and the ever-popular Beachcomber bar and restaurant.
While this beautiful beach is ‘dog-friendly’ in the technical sense, it wouldn’t be our top pick with so many other great choices nearby. This beach itself is a fantastic spot and the imposing sand dune makes for a brilliant view.
However, it also makes it a difficult location to access with older or mobility-impaired dogs.
Great White Sharks are frequently spotted in the waters here, as well, so take great care not to venture too far into the water when chasing down any stray tennis balls.
Cahoon Hollow falls under the care of the Cape Cod National Seashore, meaning that their rules and guidelines for dogs apply.
Marconi is another fantastic spot that is managed by the Cape Cod National Seashore. Again, this beach features some dramatic sand dunes and sparkling waves.
Pups are not welcome in lifeguard-patrolled areas during the summer, however, you won’t need to venture very far at all to find a suitable spot to set up for the day.
Marconi is quieter than Cahoon Hollow and is our first choice for a dip when we’re in Wellfleet.
Dog-Friendly Beaches in Eastham
Coast Guard Beach
Coast Guard Beach is another Cape Cod National Seashore beach. This easterly piece of the shoreline is perfect for quiet sunrises and you’re likely to see plenty of sea puppies – uh, seals – enjoying the water as well. Be sure to follow the leash requirements here, as the seals will often venture up onto the rocks.
The only major downside to this beach is that there is no public parking. There is a shuttle from the main parking lot to the shorefront but it is not dog-friendly. You’ll need to organize pet-friendly rideshare, walk, or have a friend drop you off.
Dog-Friendly Beaches in Orleans
Nauset Beach is bustling and beautiful. This is one of the most popular beaches on the Cape but has luckily been saved from becoming overly busy.
During the busy summer season, you’ll find open change rooms and an exciting variety of food trucks to feed you and your pup.
The waves here can be tall and rough, so this beach is best suited to dogs who are confident around the water. Some pups may prefer to wear booties here since the water can be chilly and the shoreline is rocky in places.
Avoid venturing too far into the water. Its large seal population makes Nauset Beach a hotspot for Great White Sharks.
Dog-Friendly Beaches in Chatham
Pleasant Bay/Jackknife Beach
Pleasant Bay/Jackknife is the only Chatham Beach that allows four-legged visitors between May 1st and September 15th. Even then, dogs are only permitted before 9 am and after 6 pm.
Luckily, Pleasant Bay’s western outlook is a beautiful spot for a summer sunset. The cove’s sheltered position also makes for warmer waters, meaning that the early and late visiting hours for dogs won’t dampen your enjoyment too much.
The shoreline throughout the cove is spattered with rocks and broken shells. Come prepared with ocean-friendly booties to protect your dog’s paws.
Restricted Areas for Dogs in Cape Cod
The localities of Bourne, Brewster, Harwich, Dennis, Yarmouth, Barnstable, Sandwich, and Falmouth do not allow dogs on the beach at any point throughout the summer season. The exact dates vary from beach to beach, and even year to year, so check in with the local tourism body before making any concrete plans.
Some of these beaches are also local only unless you can provide evidence of a stay longer than one to two weeks.
Dog Friendly Beaches Cape Cod Thoughts
Cape Cod is a paradise for pets, especially the beautiful National Seashore beaches towards the northern point. The number of dog-friendly beaches means that a trip to the Cape can be as simple as picking a spot, grabbing your leash, and hitting the road.
So pack on up, and enjoy your holidays!