Sandy Point State Reservation: Tips to Plan Your Trip

By Caitlin Dowling, Correspondent
Caitlin is a freelance editor/writer and former news producer for CNN. As a local mom of three, her family can be found enjoying all Newburyport has to offer, from strolling downtown to biking the rail trail to swimming at the beach.
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Sandy Point State Reservation, located at the southern point of Plum Island, offers beautiful views, a protected cove with calm waters, and an escape from overcrowded beaches. While Sandy Point is considered one of the most coveted beaches in the area for locals and visitors alike, planning ahead is a must for a successful trip., utilized pictures taken by local photographer/resident Lani Shumway to create the featured slideshow video. Check out Lani’s website to view more of her beautiful photos.

The most important thing to know before heading to Sandy Point is that there is extremely limited parking. There are about 15 spots at the main lot with the closest access to the beach, and an additional 25 spots a short walking distance away from the beach entrance. During summer months, and many times even off-season, these lots fill up quickly and cars line up to wait for spots to open up as visitors exit. The best way to score a place to park at Sandy Point State Reservation is to arrive early in the morning or to flip your beach day and opt for a dinner picnic. While parking is a challenge, it is also the reason why you will never find Sandy Point overcrowded, even on the best beach days.

To access Sandy Point, visitors must enter through the guard gate at the Parker River Wildlife Refuge. The entrance fee is $5 per car, or opt for an annual $20 pass if you plan on visiting often. The pass gives you access to Sandy Point as well the other beaches and hiking trails located on the refuge.

The refuge will post a sign at the gate if Sandy Point’s lot is already full. Visitors can then choose to either still make the trek out to Sandy Point and wait in the 1-in-1-out car line or park in one of the other five lots on the refuge that offer beach access.

From the gate, it’s about a 20-minute drive, traveling 6.5 miles along paved and dirt roads. While the drive is slow-moving, it’s a great opportunity to take in spectacular views of the beaches, marshes, and wildlife that make up the refuge. Beware, your car will kick up a lot of dust along the way, so save any planned car wash trips for after your beach excursion!

A visit to Sandy Point State Reservation is always well worth all the planning when you can snag a spot and spend the day. Families love to visit this beach to swim in the calmer waters during high tide and to explore the tidal pools filled with ocean life and shells during low tide. Sandy Point also offers amazing views of Crane Beach for photographers, a quiet sanctuary to observe wildlife, and is a favorite place to drop a line and fish.

Know Before You Go:

  • The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset
  • There are no bathrooms at Sandy Point State Reservation. The closest one is located at Lot 4.
  • Campfires, drones, kites, and pets are prohibited everywhere on the refuge
  • During Piping Plover season, certain areas of the beach may be marked off to protect nests. However, unlike other parts of the refuge, Sandy Point State Reservation does not completely close to the public.