How to Plan a Perfect Beach Day in New England

A perfect beach day in New England requires more than sunscreen and a beach chair. Find out how water temps at Cape Cod’s ocean beaches drop more than 20F overnight, where to find real time images of beach conditions, when bug spray is a good idea and more.

Orleans, MA (PRWEB) June 28, 2006 –- Summer is here and the beach beckons with sunshine, warm sand and cool water. For some people, ultimate beach fun means lazing around and taking in the scene. For others, the beach is a place for activities. Active or restful, a little preparation can make the difference between a perfect day and a bust. (, an online beach activity and vacation resource, suggests the following steps to plan a perfect beach day in New England:

1. Check the weather. This means more than just looking out the window before leaving. It means checking the forecast for your beach destination. Thunderstorms can come up quickly. You can time your trip to avoid them and still have a great day at the beach. ( provides an hour-by-hour forecast – use the town name or a nearby zip code for reference. Beyond checking for precipitation, it’s also important to check the wind. At 25 mph the wind starts blowing sand in your face.

Wind affects water temperatures too. Ocean beach water temps can vary wildly from day to day. In a 24-hour period they can drop more than twenty degrees, from 75F to 55F or less! This happens when hot weather with light onshore winds is followed by strong offshore conditions. These cause upwelling, which brings deep cold water to the surface. On Cape Cod, when the wind blows hard from W or NW, the National Seashore beaches will be colder than normal… even when the air temp is hot. Wetsuits make cold water days enjoyable.

The wind also affects bugs. Many New England beaches lie beside tidal marshes. Biting insects love marshes. When the wind blows onshore toward the marsh, the beach will be more or less bug-free. When it blows offshore, over the marsh, it’s a good idea to bring bug spray.

2. Check the tides. New England tides have a major impact on area beaches. Some beaches disappear almost completely at high tide. Low tide on other beaches allows walking out a quarter mile or more in ankle deep water. If you walk down a beach beside a cliff at low tide, be sure to check the wrack line, a line of seaweed, bits of wood and other debris marking the water’s edge at high tide. If it abuts the cliff, you may have to wade through water upon returning at high tide.

3. Check the waves. If you have younger children, you may want to avoid them. If you want to surf or bodyboard, they are probably your main reason for going to the beach. Take advantage of surf forecasts and webcams. provides surf forecasts for all major New England surf breaks and a live shot of Cape Cod’s Coast Guard Beach ( Links to other surf cams throughout New England are provided as well.

4. Check water temps. The National Oceanographic Data Center provides a chart with average water temps for much of New England at Real time water temperatures are reported from some offshore buoys too. Note that the water temperatures at beaches will be strongly influenced by local conditions. Most people find water temps in the 70F+ range to be comfortable without a wetsuit. When the water dips below 65F a wetsuit adds comfort. When the water is in the 50F range a wetsuit is a necessity for almost everyone.

5. Pack sun protection. Prime beach hours (10AM-3PM) are when the sun is most powerful. SPF 30 sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB rays are strongly recommended. Bring hats, sunglasses and UV-resistant clothing as well. And don’t forget a beach umbrella! There’s nothing cool about suffering from sunburn.

6. Bring plenty of water. Other beverages may taste great, but nothing quenches thirst better than pure H2O.

7. Bring sandals or flip flops. When arriving at a beach in the morning the sand is nice and cool. It’s tempting to leave shoes behind. Think ahead and remember that three hours later sand can become scorching hot.

8. Make your spot on the beach comfortable with beach chairs and a beach blanket.

9. Take note of facilities at the beach you’ve chosen. Is there a lifeguard? Bathrooms? Showers? A snack bar? Be prepared to improvise if these facilities aren’t available. You can check beach descriptions online using the Cape & Islands beach maps at or a guidebook to find out in advance. Be aware that, despite good efforts by the resource, the information may turn out to be incorrect or out of date.

10. Choose a few beach toys and articles of beach gear. There are many activities to choose from… but only a few you’ll actually do. Bringing too much increases the hassle factor and diminishes the feeling of freedom a beach provides. Take a moment and consider what you’d like to do on that particular day. Then leave the rest behind. Ice chests are a blessing and a curse. Too often a large one is a burden to haul around. If you’re only staying a few hours, ask yourself if you really need it.

Last but not least, try to carve out a space in your mind that is free of work and daily life worries. Beaches are for fun.

Things to take onto the beach with you:
• Sunscreen SPF 30, UVA&B
• Hat and other UV-resistant clothing
• Sunglasses
• Sandals/flip flops
• Umbrella
• Beach chairs and/or blanket
• Drinking water
• Snacks
• Bug spray
• Beach toys
• Wetsuit
• Basic first aid kit (if no lifeguards)
• Ice chest (do you really need it?)

Preparation is the first step to having fun. Being safe while you’re there is the next step. In general it is wise to choose beaches with lifeguards. Lifeguards do more than help swimmers who are in trouble. They help prevent trouble in the first place by monitoring water and weather conditions. Certified lifeguards are able to provide first aid and CPR. ( provides complete beach information for beach vacations and beach activities. The site provides listings for beach house rentals and lodging options in addition to listings for fishing, surfing, boating and more. The site currently features maps accompanied by photographs and descriptions of all of the most popular beaches on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. More beaches are being added every month. The current beach maps page can be visited at

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