Joseph Sylvia State Beach

State Beach, Oak Bluffs, Umbrella, Alison Shaw
State Beach, Oak Bluffs. (photo by Alison Shaw)

The most family-friendly beach you’ll find is the one known simply as “State Beach.” It stretches along the Island’s eastern coastline from Edgartown to Oak Bluffs and different sections go by different names. Whether you go to the Bend in the Road, Pole 3 (or is it four?), the Big Bridge, the Little Bridge, or anywhere in between, you can count on relatively calm surf and the warmest water on the Island. If the east wind is too much, you can even go across to the calmer waters of Sengekontacket pond.

Bend in the Road, in particular, has lifeguards, a roped-in swim area, and a sandbar. Picnic tables line the beach and parking is available, though it does fill up early in the summer. Jumping off the Big Bridge into the channel has become a rite of passage of sorts for Island kids – make sure there are no boats going through to the pond before you go airborne. Ouch!