Summer on the coast means only one thing — it’s time to hit the beach. No matter the experience you desire, Newburyport has something to offer for everyone. So grab your suits, towels and umbrellas and hit one (or all) of these oceanside spots that’ll keep you wishing this season never had to end.
A local favorite, Plum Island offers three great spots along the 11 miles of coastline to take up residency for the day: the Refuge, Plum Island Center and North Point. Regardless of where you choose, plan to be there earlier rather than later. Parking is limited at most spots, and once the lots are full, there’s no way to access the beaches (other than by bicycle or walking). Expect to pay for parking no matter where you go — and be warned, you will be towed if caught parking on the side of the road without a resident sticker.
While you’re driving onto the island, don’t miss the historic Pink House (60 Plum Island Turnpike in Newbury), a local landmark that’s been around for nearly 100 years and been saved from demolition by a group of volunteers who hope to keep the structure intact for years to come. It’s a great stop for photographers or for those who love historic landmarks, or just can’t get enough of anything pink.
A great spot to see some of the area’s wildlife, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge (technically located in Newbury) is the island’s most difficult beach to access. Between parking limitations and nesting piping plovers (federally protected birds), finding a time where you’ll be able to access the sandy dunes can be tricky, but well worth the extra planning. The Refuge’s website keeps visitors up to date on closures and available summer programming for children.
Once you come over the bridge into Plum Island, you’ll need to take your first right onto Sunset Drive. If you’re there early enough, snag a spot at one of the smaller parking lots for a more secluded experience, or the first lot on the left will take you to a larger parking area.
On the southern tip of the island lies Sandy Point State Reservation, another remote spot, also with limited parking. The tides make for an experience on its own, allowing beachgoers to wade from sand bar to sand bar — great places to set your beach chair down in the water or let children play.
On the other side of the island, North Point is your best bet to find parking. With 150 spots available, you’re likely to get in, even if you’re there late morning. For a quick history lesson before enjoying the sun and sand, visit the Plum Island Lighthouse, which is just across the street from the parking lot. If you time it right, you can even get a tour inside it (Call 978- 973-6935 to see when open houses are occurring).
The beach at North Point offers plenty of space to lay out with deep enough water for swimming. This area is known for its rip currents, so take precautions when going for a dip.
Plum Island Center:
One of the first things you’ll see when heading over the bridge into Plum Island is the center of town. Keep driving straight and you’ll hit the beach, often referred to as the main beach, on the island. Parking here is even more limited than the refuge, so you’ll need to snag a spot at one of the side lots selling spaces.
This location is great for those who want to try some local fare, as there are several restaurants/ice cream stands and a convenient store within walking distance from the entrance of the beach.
Wherever you end up, you’ll be in for quite the experience. We may be biased, but Plum Island is our favorite spot to be when summertime hits.