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West Island Beach in Fairhaven
West Island Beach in Fairhaven

5 Greater New Bedford Area Beaches


We’re definitely starting to feel the summer heat as schools have closed their doors and AC units are being put to the test all throughout the Greater New Bedford area.  Summer brings many favorite pastimes to mind; cookouts, vacations, outdoor concerts, festivals… and of course, the beach.  Living in the South Coast makes us all a bit privileged in that we are never too far from the water.  We are just a short drive from two of the east coast’s premiere beach destinations; Newport and Cape Cod.  However, you don’t even have to journey thirty minutes or brave the treacherous summer traffic to cool off since we have a number of fine waterfront options right in the region.

If you grew up in Greater New Bedford then you are probably plenty familiar with the many beaches scattered along the shores.  However, if you are a transplant to the area like myself, you may still be seeking new places to soak up the sun on your day off.  Or perhaps you are planning on visiting New Bedford this summer and hoping to get in a swim during your trip.  For New Bedford beach lovers new and old, I have put together a list of 5 beaches that are in the area that you might consider checking out.

Horseneck Beach in Westport
Horseneck Beach in Westport

1. Horseneck Beach
Location: Route 88 Westport Point, Westport, MA 02790
Parking Cost: $8

I’m starting with the obvious here in saying Horseneck is probably the best beach in the South Coast.  Located out on the peninsula of Westport, this beach is in a beautiful location that is well removed from the distractions of commercialism.  For those of you who haven’t been there, I will briefly explain what you can expect.

First, the water temperature at Horseneck is rather nice.  Unlike some of the beaches you encounter as you move north, Horseneck water is rather warm (I was already swimming there in May.) Additionally, this is the beach to go to if you are a fan of waves.  Whether you like body surfing, boogie boarding, or real surfing, Horseneck gets some decent swells that make it a fun place for water lovers.  Horseneck Beach also has a bath house which makes it more accommodating than some places, and it has a snack shack for those looking to grab a bite to eat.

Horseneck Beach is fully staffed by lifeguards, so it is definitely a family friendly place.  Rip tides aren’t uncommon for Horseneck though, so know your swimming strength before getting too deep. There are only two small drawbacks to Horseneck that you might like to know.  First is that on hot days it can and WILL get packed. While there are good sized parking lots to accommodate numerous beach goers, it is highly recommended you get there early and even still you can expect to be closely surrounded by other sunbathers the whole time.  The second thing about Horseneck is that it’s rocky.  Not the whole thing, but there is usually a fairly hazardous strip of rocks you’ll need to navigate over to get to the water. This isn’t to say you’ll need hiking shoes but it is a little rough on the bottoms of your feet, so be forewarned. Nevertheless, once you pass that obstacle the rest of the beach is quite soft and sandy.

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About SRyan

The South Coast has been my home since I came to UMD in 2005. I have worked and lived in NB, and now live in Westport. With a Master’s in public relations I have worked as a consultant, and as a professor. I love trying new foods, writing, watching movies (and football!), traveling, listening to a wide array of music, and of course, I <3 the South Coast.

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  1. Onset Beach has a $2/hour parking fee. Parking on the street is restricted to one hour parking only which is strictly enforced. I know from experience.

  2. Onset Beach – Marc Anthony Pizza is the best around. Located on the corner of Onset Beach.

  3. Thanks for the suggestion Sean!

  4. What are the fees to Ft Tabor? Last time I went,, like 3 years ago, it was a small fee to residents of NB and $15 to non-residents.

  5. The east beach now charges a fee for parking. $5 for residents to get a sticker for the whole season. I think non-residents of New Bedford pay $10 or $15/day

    • From the city website: Seasonal parking passes are $5 for city residents. Greater New Bedford residents in contiguous communities (Freetown, Acushnet, Fairhaven, and Dartmouth) can purchase a seasonal pass for $20.

  6. FORT PHOENIX BEACH IS NOT SAFE FOR CHEMICAL POLLUTION REASONS!! REgardless of the water being tested for bacteria, it is probably still loaded with heavy metals and assorted chemicals from the harbor. How do I know? We were swimming there once and the MASK AND SNORKEL RUBBER started to DISINTEGRATE in the water. NEW items! So DO NOT think swimming here is safe!!

  7. edward s alford

    east beach is not free I was told I would need a permit to park and it would cost fifty dollars for the summer. East or west beach are not worth it no good bathrooms the beaches are messy.
    Edward S. Alford

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