Lighthouse Beach, Chatham MA

Ligthouse Beach, Chatham MA
Chatham Light and Lighthouse Beach
Image thanks to tripadvisor.com

Chatham Lighthouse Beach sits below the watchful gaze of Chatham Light, an active lighthouse at the Coast Guard Station that aids in the navigation of Chatham Waters. The splendor of Lighthouse Beach is indisputable. Lighthouse Beach is the largest beach in Chatham and is also one of the best on the Cape, second only to Wellfleet's Coast Guard Beach which was recently named one of America's Top Ten Beaches.

This amazing expansive stretch of sandy beach is a place where you can enjoy a warm summer's day watching daily routes of migrating seals and fishing boats against a backdrop of gorgeous expanses of sand. Interrupted only by the "Break" (an ever-widening channel torn into the coast by a fierce storm, see below).

Highlights

Lighthouse Beach
Salt Water
30 Minute Parking
No Lifeguard
Breathtaking Views
No Restrooms

Ligthouse Beach, Chatham MA
Image thanks to mychatham.com

Activities at Lighthouse beach include: stroll down to South Beach towards Monomoy on an afternoon nature hike, kite flying , and a.m. beach yoga. If you go on a Wed. then, in the afternoon, you can join the lighthouse tour and get the view from the top.

Beauty and danger jockey for attention at Lighthouse Beach. This is a true Atlantic Ocean beach with cooler waters and tricky, dynamic currents. The strong currents and tides are influenced by wind and weather conditions. The strength of the current at Lighthouse Beach is significant. It is most dangerous at the south tip of Lighthouse Beach which is closed to swimming.

Ligthouse Beach, Chatham MA
Lighthouse Beach in Summer
Image thanks to weneedavacation.com

Unpredictable currents meeting unsuspecting swimmers in these waters, can lead to unsettling outcomes. A flagpole at the top of the stairs leading to the beach and a second flagpole on the beach below the parking lot warns the public of dangerous conditions. The red flag means swimming is PROHIBITED in all areas. The Lighthouse Beach patrols run from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm daily June 26 through Labor Day weekend

Ligthouse Beach, Chatham MA
Image thanks to weneedavacation.com

Recently, the Chatham Harbormaster has announced a moratorium on any swimming on east-facing beaches, including popular South Beach, North Beach and Lighthouse Beach between sunset and sunrise. and swimming remains banned when seals -- a favorite food of the fearsome great whites -- are within 300 feet. The Harbormaster's advisory goes on to say "[B]each goers, mariners and swimmers should continue to pay close attention to their surroundings, and when swimming at Lighthouse Beach should not venture too far from shore

Ligthouse Beach, Chatham MA
Sunrise at Chatham Light
Image thanks to weneedavacation.com

Located off Shore Road, a half mile from downtown, parking is a problem as there is a 30-minute restriction for the parking lot on the beach bluff. The best option is to drop your family with chairs, cooler, lunch and so forth and then head back into town to the Eldredge Taxi parking lot at 365 Main St.and take their taxi or flag down the Chatham Pedicab and take them back to the beach (eachfor a fee) or park in public parking downtown and walk back.

There are also no bathrooms, lifeguards or food service, so it's not a family oriented beach in the traditional sense. Still, every family should spend at least one day of their trip here. The views are like none other on the Cape!

Ligthouse Beach, Chatham MA
Lighthouse Beach in Summer
Image thanks to weneedavacation.com

The Chatham Break

In front of the beach is the 'Chatham Break.' In January 1987, a powerful nor'easter unexpectedly broke through the lower end of Nauset Beach, allowing the Atlantic Ocean to surge into Chatham Harbor. This 'Chatham Break' is a growing ocean channel between the north part of Nauset Beach and what is now South Beach. Prior to 1987 Chatham Harbor had been shielded from surges of the open Atlantic Ocean by the lower end of Nauset Beach.

Although a barrier beach protects one body of water from another, it is essentially a frail piece of land subject to erosion by fierce winds and powerful tides. A section of Nauset Beach at Chatham Harbor had been undergoing this weakening process for some years. When the January 1987 storm hit, the raging ocean, pushed by an unrelenting wind, tore open the land at this vulnerable point and the Atlantic flowed into Chatham Harbor.

In April 2007, a new inlet formed opposite Minister's Point. The two inlets are now fighting for domination of the Pleasant Bay-Chatham Harbor system.

You can observe the break from the elevated parking lot which also has three sets of powerful binoculars to aide in viewing.

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