Hidden Adventures: Nauset Beach on the Cape

Featuring Solo Stove Content Creator, Mike “Clusk” McCluskey

If there is anything we crave, it’s adventure. We live to load our packs, grab our hiking sticks, and roam. This year, you might be feeling the itch to get out and explore somewhere new, to feel the rush of finding a hidden adventure.

With the “Hidden Adventures” series, we’re bringing you along to explore America’s tucked-away deposits, waterfalls, beaches, canyons, and so much more. Each edition highlights a secluded location that might just become your next adventure destination.

Welcome to Nauset: Sand, Water, and Wind

Private beaches normally cost thousands of dollars to experience. What if all you had to do was pay for parking?

Nauset Beach on Cape Code isn’t your run-of-the-mill beach. It’s a raw, ten-mile stretch of dunes that provides you with some of the best views of Massachusetts’ Atlantic Coast. At Nauset, you can drive your RV right onto the sand and stay all weekend long, all by just paying one simple parking fee. The experience is like no other beach in the United States.

There’s something about Nauset Beach that doesn’t feel like a “beach.” Thinking of a beach, one thinks of rows and rows of umbrellas and crowds of swimmers on the shore. Their roaring yells and laughter almost exceeds the crashing waves upon the sand. That’s not Nauset. Nauset is more like a deserted island, or peninsula, where you can swim, fish, off-road, and play without disturbing or being disturbed by others.

Mike “Clusk” McCluskey, Solo Stove Content Creator, says there’s nothing like Nauset Beach. We got to talk to Clusk about what makes Nauset so unique. We’ve even included his ideal itinerary of things you shouldn’t miss when you venture out to Nauset.

All the photos you see are courtesy of Clusk.

The Dunes

One of the most popular features of Nauset Beach are the miles of sand dunes that stretch along the beach. This is where the local off-roaders come to put their trucks and ATVs to the test. If you’re an off-roader, all you have to do is get a simple permit from the shack at the end of the Nauset beach parking lot to enjoy five miles of winding, scenic sand roads that snake through the dunes. Exits along the trail mark each dune where you have the ability to ascend to the top and make camp for the afternoon (or overnight) to experience some of the best views on the Cape.

What makes Nauset Beach a Hidden Adventure?

We got to hear first hand from “Clusk” on why Nauset Beach is one of his favorite places to be.

What makes Nauset Beach so special to you?

Nauset . . . it’s just this little secret spot. If you’re a local, you can get a permit sticker for like $45. You can take the whole family to the beach with all your gear, and just go.  You don’t have to worry about parking somewhere far away, taking just the gear you need for the beach, and wandering around trying to find a clear spot away from any one else to make camp. The beach is huge, and there’s plenty of space for everyone to keep distanced. Right now, it’s the offseason. No one is there. It’s the perfect time to get out, find your spot, and kick it for a whole weekend. Unless it’s a little chilly out [laughs].

Nauset is special to me because as soon as I had a car to get out there, I’ve been going out there. My wife’s been going out there for as long as she can remember. I can’t think of any other beach in the country like this, and I’ve been to a lot of beaches. There’s no town noise, no fire trucks. It’s you just you, the water, and the wind.

What’s one of your favorite memories of Nauset Beach?

The best times on the beach happen when I’m spending time with family and friends. Before the pandemic, Fourth of July weekend meant all the beaches on the Cape would be packed with tourists. But all the locals would head to Nauset.

I’m an overlander too, and Nauset has some of the best dune trails around. If you’ve got a 4×4 truck or an ATV, you can spend all day driving over sand that hasn’t been touched by anyone else all day.

Growing up, my family summered close to Nauset like many other families. If you have kids, Nauset let’s you bring the whole family, all your gear, and have a little slice of sand all to yourself.

What’s some nearby attractions you’d recommend to people visiting Nauset Beach?

A twenty-minute drive south from Nauset will take you to Chatham. Downtown Chatham is a traditional, old-timey downtown full of quirky shops and mom and pop restaurants. If you are looking for a place to stay in Chatham, I recommend Chatham Bars Inn. It’s a well-known luxury hotel with plenty of stuff to do on-site. Chatham also has the famous Chatham Lighthouse to get a birds-eye view of the Cape.

Orleans is even closer to Nauset and has its own charm, with tons of restaurants and shops. You can spend a whole day in Chatham and Orleans just shopping and taking in the sights.

If you are a history buff, there’s no better place than Plymouth. As we all know, it’s where the Mayflower Pilgrims landed. The best thing is that it’s only an hour drive from Nauset. Boston isn’t too far from Nauset either. There’s a ferry that takes you from Provincetown, we call it “P-town,” to Boston in ninety minutes.

What’s your ideal day trip itinerary for those wanting to visit Nauset Beach?

I would start your day in downtown Chatham getting some breakfast and doing a little shopping and sightseeing. I would check out Hydrangea Walk. It’s this gorgeous manor that’s been around since the 1930s. The house has been renovated since then and lined with hundreds of hydrangeas along the walkway. If you really want to get a feel for northeastern architecture, Hydrangea is it.

After a morning in Chatham, take Route 6 to P-town to do some more sightseeing and stroll through downtown. If times were different, you could stop at Wellfleet along the way to see the Oysterfest. That’s one of the events I really miss on the Cape. You can walk around all day, eat $1 oysters right off the boat, and see some cool, local art.

After P-town, you can head back south to Nauset. Pack some sandwich stuff or grab a burrito from the cart right off the beach and set up camp for the rest of the day. If you want to stay overnight, you can literally drive your RV on the sand, park it, and there’s your lodging for the night. Right in front of the sea. If you’re into fishing, you can bring your pole and fish right off the beach. There’s no experience like this anywhere else.

What are your favorite “hidden adventures?” We want to hear about them! Share your story and your photos with us!