Growing up on Cape Cod, we had our choice of over 115 beaches all along the Cape Cod “arm”. Sandy Neck could be considered one of the most popular on the “bicep” of the Cape, located off historic Route 6A in Sandwich. It is a barrier beach which was formed from a continental glacier drift in the Pleistocene ice age. Over time, the rhythm of wind and waves has deposited sand to create picturesque sand dunes and a beautiful, wide sloping stretch of beach. Sandy Neck currently has over 4,700 acres of dunes, maritime forests, trails and marshes.
Sandy Neck provides places for the usual beach activities of swimming, beach-combing and
soaking up the sun but there is SO much more to do there! It is one of the beaches which allows ORV Permits (Off Road Vehicle) and designates a corridor of beach to be specifically used for that purpose. This provides beach-goers with the option of finding a MORE perfect spot on the beach while eliminating the need to carry tons of gear on a lumbering hike through the sand. Self-contained camping vehicles can stay overnight and regular tent camping is offered in a designated area, both for a small fee. Horseback riding is also allowed with a $30 permit and there is plenty of hiking and nature walks galore, so bring an adventurous spirit! (View Sandy Neck Beach Map)
A couple other things make Sandy Neck a special area. Because of its significant natural resources, including multiple endangered species, it is recognized by the state of Massachusetts as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern. In addition, Sandy Neck is designated as aCultural Historical Districtbecause of the many antique dune shacks and cottages that dot the shoreline of the beach and the Sandy Neck Lighthouse. The entire area makes for great picture-taking but these structures really add to the charm and are very interesting subjects.
The Route 6A stretch of Sandwich exudes the classic Cape Cod styles of homes, businesses and winding roads. There are several shops, attractions and restaurants to visit in this area. A local favorite restaurant is The Bee-Hive Tavern, located just a short distance from Sandy Neck. It has a cozy atmosphere and casual (but flavorful) dishes. Try the stuffed quahogs and their signature bee sting ice cream. If you would like to browse a truly local bookstore either before or after you eat, stop into Titcomb’s Bookshop just down the road. Also nearby is Heritage Plantation where you will find gorgeous flowers, beautifully landscaped areas, an old-style carousel, outdoor concerts and several youth and adult programs. Bring the entire family, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the lush gardens on a warm spring or summer day!
So, the next time you are on The Cape in the summer, venture away from your normal area for a day to explore Sandy Neck. Keep your eyes and ears open for the abundant wildlife and PLEASE bring a camera. You will find many beautiful opportunities to capture the scenic and historic nature of this beach.