Summer is coming and Memorial Day weekend is the official kick off of beach season. There’s a good reason Rhode Island is known as the Ocean State. The state is only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long but its shoreline is almost 400 miles. Every Rhode Islander lives within a 30-minute drive to the Atlantic Ocean or Narragansett Bay, pretty cool! Rhode Island offers breathtaking scenery along its coastline and beaches, but the state has so much to offer, from historic town centers and opulent mansions to small businesses and great local restaurants. If you find yourself in the ocean state, here are 15 of the best beaches in Rhode Island. An important editors note: many of the beaches in Rhode Island are carry in/carry in out, and do not have trash receptacles. Please help keep beaches and oceans clean and bring any trash with you when you leave.
You might also like The Newport Guide, the definitive source for planning the ultimate getaway to Newport, updated seasonally with hundreds of curated recommendations sourced by a local (me!). If you’re visiting Rhode Island here’s the best takeout, the best Providence restaurants, 10 great places for brunch, and 13 things to do with kids in Newport.
15 Of The Best Beaches in Rhode Island
Third Beach, Middletown
A local favorite for a reason, Third Beach, located in Middletown, is popular year round and is especially family friendly. It’s a smaller and typically quieter beach with calm waters, a snack bar and several parking lots. Parking in the two town lots have been limited to residents-only during the summer months. You are welcome to get dropped off or bike to the beach as anyone can walk on. The third lot (Peabody’s) is open to their members and for a fee to non-members. Parking lots are open for anyone during off-season (September through May). Beaches are dog-friendly on leash from 5-7:45 am in summer and after 6pm. From September-May they are allowed on the beach all day (please pay attention to signs for beach rules).
Sachuest (Second) Beach, Middletown
If you’re looking for a lively beach experience Sachuest or Second Beach as it’s referred to by locals is where you’ll find it. Always busy in the summer, Second Beach typically has waves (whether they’re big or small really depends) and Surfer’s End where you’ll find most surfers in the water on any given day. There’s a concession stand and restrooms towards the middle of the beach, which is also where parking is available for $20 weekdays and $30 weekends & holidays. In addition to the snack bar you can often find a Del’s Lemonade truck at Surfer’s End. Dog-friendly on leash at specific times during peak and off peak season. Free parking during the off season (September-May).
Another beautiful, family friendly beach in Newport located along Ocean Drive, Gooseberry Beach has a snack bar, restrooms, and bath houses for members. Parking is available to the public for a fee and changing rooms and showers are available to guests. The waters are typically calm and it’s a great spot to swim and sunbathe.
Mackerel Cove, Jamestown
This was one of our favorite spots to go as a family when I was growing up. My Dad would drive our boat around to Mackerel Cove and we’d swim and wake surf all day. It’s shallow waters make it a great place to swim and play in the water especially for little ones. Parking is limited to Jamestown residents in the summer months you can get dropped off or park nearby and walk down. A really great place to go in the off season too!
South Shore, Little Compton
If you haven’t been to Little Compton you are missing out. One of the most beautiful and quaint towns in Rhode Island, Little Compton has so much charm and stunning landscapes of coastline, stone walls, historic buildings and farmland. South Shore Beach is a small rocky beach open to the public. During the summer months weekday passes are $18 and weekends are $23. You can also purchase passes for overnight camping and fire permits. Portable bathrooms are available in the summer but there is no running water. Private vendors usually sell snacks and food like hot dogs and ice cream.
Fogland Beach, Tiverton
Fogland Beach is a beautiful rocky black stone beach in Tiverton. It’s popular among kayakers, kite surfers and fishermen. There are restrooms, picnic benches, a playground and seasonal food vendors. Parking for non-residents is $10 on weekdays and $20 on weekends. There’s also a great conservation trail with hiking trails and a wildlife/nature preserve. A great spot for birding. No dogs allowed during the summer.
Mogehan Bluffs, Block Island
One of the most breathtaking and scenic beaches in Rhode Island, Mohegan Bluffs located on Block Island is nestled below 200-foot clay cliffs with a 141 step climb down to the beach. It’s a bit more secluded and rocky, the waves can be rough and there are no lifeguards on duty or bathrooms so make sure to plan accordingly.
Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly
One of Rhode Island’s most popular state beaches, Misquamicut is a half-mile stretch of sandy beach located in the town of Westerly. You can find swimmers and swimmers enjoying the beautiful blue waters and during the beach season lifeguards are on duty from 9-6pm. There are public restrooms, outdoor showers, wheelchair accessibility, a playground, concession stand, and shade gazebos. There is a parking fee during beach season for non-pass holders, $12 on weekdays and $30 on weekends and holidays. Seasonal parking passes can also be purchased online. There are no pets or camping allowed.
Watch Hill Beach, Westerly
Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the state, Watch Hill Beach (also known as Carousel Beach) is right in the heart of Watch Hill. The soft sand beach has stunning views and sits next to Napatree Point Conservation Area. Parking can be hard to come by during the summer so go early to get a spot or head over for sunset. The beach has some great amenities including restrooms, changing rooms, and umbrella and beach chair rentals. The carousel at Watch Hill beach is said to be the oldest continuously operating carousel in the United States. When you’re done at the beach there’s great food and shopping nearby and it’s not far from Ocean House.
East Matunuck State Beach, South Kingstown
East Matunuck State Beach is known for waves so if you’re looking to go surfing this is a great beach to do a surf check. In the summer months it can get pretty crowded and parking can be hard to come by so go early to get a spot. The beach has a concession stand, restrooms and showers. The beach is open from 9-6pm and gates close at sunset.
Narragansett Town Beach, Narragansett
Narragansett Town Beach is one of the most popular and visited beaches in the state. There is lots of parking but it fills up fast in the summer so plan to get there early. The beach covers approximately 19 acres, and has food, restrooms, lifeguards and a surfing area. There is a $12 fee to access the beach per person (children under 11 are free).
Scarborough State Beach, Narragansett
Scarborough State Beach is another one of Rhode Island’s most popular state beaches. The beach has soft sand, a boardwalk, public restrooms, outdoor showers, wheelchair accessibility, and concession stands. There are also several shade gazebos. Residents and non-residents can buy beach parking passes online where you can also check the status of the parking lots.
East Beach, Charlestown
If you’re looking to escape the crowds East Beach in Charlestown is a quiet, seaside oasis. There’s not a lot of parking available and there are a small number of bathrooms. Known for pristine waters and soft sand, East Beach also has spots for camping and 3 miles of undeveloped beach frontage. With a permit, some 4×4 vehicles are also allowed to drive on the beach (a rare opportunity in RI).
Blue Shutters Beach, Charlestown
Blue Shutters Beach is a family friendly beautiful stretch with views of Block Island sound. Soft sand and clear blue waters the beach also has showers, restrooms, a snack bar and picnic tables. Public parking is available for a fee. The parking lot fills up quickly on a hot summer day so get there early for a spot.
Point Judith Lighthouse, Narragansett
Not quite a beach but a worthwhile sight to see, Point Judith Lighthouse is the southernmost point in Rhode Island. The actual lighthouse is fenced off because it is property of the US Coast Guard, but visitors are welcome on the grounds are parking is free.