A beach sunset is the perfect ending to any summer day. Looking for a spot that delivers? Here are the best beaches for watching the sunset in New England.
By Katherine Keenan
May 25 2022
A view of the sunset from below the Aquinnah Cliffs on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.Photo Credit : Denis Tangney Jr./iStock
New England has plenty to offer when it comes to beautiful sunrises and sunsets. After all, it is the first region in the continental United States to see the sunrise each morning when it hits Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, and sunsets along the eastern coast rarely disappoint. But for those dreaming of a beach sunset stroll or perhaps a golden-hour picnic, it can be tricky to find a perfect stretch of sand for watching the sunset on the East Coast since many beaches point eastward, and the sun slips quickly behind mountains and sand dunes. If you know where to look, however, there are plenty of prime coastal places to watch the sunset in New England. Here are some of the best beaches in New England for watching the sunset.
Sand Beach on Deer Isle, Maine
While most of Maine’s beautiful beaches face eastward, many of its island beaches do not, making them the perfect sunset vantage point. And while there are many Maine islands with beaches that could have made their way onto this list, Deer Isle in Down East Maine takes this spot thanks to being easily accessible by a bridge on the end of the Blue Hill Peninsula while maintaining all the charm of island life.
The Aquinnah Cliffs on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
The sweeping views from atop the Aquinnah Cliffs on Martha’s Vineyard are sure to take your breath away at any time of day, but something extra magical happens when the sun begins to dip below the horizon and bathes the westernmost point of this Massachusetts island in golden light. Between the crashing Atlantic, the ragged cliffs, and the charming nearby Gay Head Light, this sunset spot leaves little to be desired!
Rock Harbor Beach in Orleans, Massachusetts
The westward-facing beaches that dot the inner “elbow” of Cape Cod boast some of New England’s best sunsets. Rock Harbor Beach in Orleans, Massachusetts, is no exception. Despite being positioned conveniently near a town perfect for pre- or post-sunset dinner and drinks, this popular daytime beach usually quiets down in the evenings, making it a prime spot for a serene stroll. Nearby Skaket Beach is also a good option.
Race Point Beach in Provincetown, Massachusetts
If you’re looking for one of the best places to watch the sunset on Cape Cod, look no further than Race Point Beach. That said, it actually wouldn’t be possible to look much further seeing as Race Point is located at the very end of the cape. With frontage on both Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, this beach gets the best of both worlds and has the views to boot. Stroll past the sand dunes and admire the sunset as it falls behind Race Point Light, both a perfect photo op and a historic landmark. Better yet, grab a campfire permit, some firewood, and s’more fixings, then get cozy!
Echo Lake Beach in Franconia, New Hampshire
There are few summertime activities more peaceful than a day spent on the water at Echo Lake in Franconia, New Hampshire, given the breathtaking views of the White Mountains and crystal-clear waters perfect for a dip. Sunsets are no different, and Cathedral Ledge is also only a short hike away for those hankering for an even more dramatic viewpoint.
Wallis Sands Beach in Rye, New Hampshire
Ample parking along the road on Route 1 means that there are numerous stunning spots to pull off the road and watch the sun set behind the trees as the golden hour illuminates New Hampshire’s short (but mighty!) seacoast. Wallis Sands Beach rarely disappoints, and if parking has filled up in the state park lot, simply drive up the road in either direction and find a spot to pull over. Nearby Portsmouth, New Hampshire, offers plenty of nighttime entertainment for those looking for a bite to eat or a bit of nighttime fun.
Ellacoya State Park on Lake Winnipesaukee in Gilford, New Hampshire
With views of the surrounding mountains and a family-friendly atmosphere, this beach is located on the southwest shore of New Hampshire’s largest lake. This Lake Winnipesaukee beach boasts a 600-foot-long sandy beach, restrooms, picnic tables, and clear freshwater perfect for a quick dip right before watching the sun put on a show behind New Hampshire’s rolling hills.
Napatree Point in Watch Hill, Rhode Island
Located in the Watch Hill neighborhood of Westerly, Rhode Island, Napatree Point is one of the best spots for watching the sunset on the beach in Rhode Island due to its quiet, light pollution–free setting and the distant sight of the Watch Hill Lighthouse. Westerly and Watch Hill both offer ample dining and shopping during the summer season, and the nearby Ocean House offers luxury grand hotel lodging for those looking to visit the area in style.
Oakledge Cove on Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont
Stretching 12 miles across at its widest point, Lake Champlain is New England’s largest lake. Nestled in beautiful upstate Vermont, it’s also one of the region’s most beautiful places for watching the sunset. A number of freshwater beaches on the shores of Vermont’s Lake Champlain boast excellent scenic overlooks, and nearby the bustling downtown of Burlington, Vermont, offers numerous opportunities for evening entertainment. Oakledge Cove remains a favorite family-friendly sunset spot due to its being slightly quieter than North Beach, where the nearby colleges can often make for a slightly more crowded setting.
Which New England beach is your favorite for watching the sunset?