Along the coast of Massachusetts there are hundreds of places to access sprawling sandy beaches, rocky coastline, pristine salt marshes, and bustling ports and harbors. This CZ-Tip focuses on coastal access in the Commonwealth, including public rights and responsibilities, public access sites, and environmental protection issues.

Coastal Access Rights in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the intertidal zone (the area between high and low water) is typically owned by the upland private property owner, with the following rights reserved for the public: fishing, fowling, and navigation. For more on the details of waterfront property law, see:

Public Coastline

About 25 percent of the Massachusetts shoreline is publicly owned. For more on visiting some of these sites, see:

Coastal Access and a Clean Environment

Environmental quality is important to coastal public access to ensure safe swimming and fishing, and to maintain the aesthetic quality of the shoreline. For more on coastal water quality and how to protect the coastal environment when visiting the shore, see:

Other Interesting Beach and Access Information

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maintains water temperature data for selected areas of the coast, including Boston Harbor and Woods Hole.
  • The Maine Harbors website includes tide and weather information for the entire New England coast.

To visit some of the coastal locations from the comfort of your computer screen, check out this Coastal Web Cam page.