Hampton Beach has everything you’d want in a beach: a long wide soft-sand beach, a boardwalk that’s sandwiched between the beach and Ocean Boulevard, hotels, restaurants and shops galore as well as a boatload of activities that keeps folks–young and old–amused for hours. Wait, correction:That should be amused for days or for some lucky ones, weeks. There’s even a Hampton Beach playground in case the tots tire of all the sandcastle building, swimming, running and playing that they can do on this broad swath of beach that borders the Atlantic Ocean. Beach walkers and joggers delight in the more than a mile-long stretch known to be the most popular beach in New Hampshire; rolling recreation enthusiasts have lots of fun coasting along the boardwalk and Ocean Boulevard as well. Best of all:The water quality at Hampton Beach has consistently been ranked squeaky clean. It’s typically chilly, however, so bring a sweatshirt and towel to wrap yourself in after a swim in the surf.
In Hampton, you don’t have as much beach but what’s there is pretty sweet, especially for surfers. North Beach attracts surfers, windsurfers, kitesurfers, boogie board riders–basically any and all that live for big waves and stiff wind. Mention “The Wall” and locals perk up. Those in the know know that “The Wall” refers to a two-mile stretch of a concrete barrier that borders North Beach. There you can experience waves that sometimes look and feel like a wall, particularly late fall and early winter when big surf crashes in like nowhere else in New England. (You’ll definitely want to wear your wetsuit then.)
If you’re into swimming in calmer waters (although it’s still the Atlantic) and perhaps picnicking with the family, North Hampton State Park Beach is a good choice. Their bathhouse is a wonderful amenity, particularly for those looking for a nice rinse off and change. (Best to keep the sand in sandwiches rather than in your bathing suit. Come to think of it, sand is best when it stays on the beach.)
Clear at the southern end of Hampton Beach, you can revel in vast expanses of sand and dunes at Hampton Beach State Park. In addition to picnicking, swimming, fishing and all kinds of beach play, you can even pull in your RV and benefit from full hook-ups in the campground. The latter does not refer to the dating scene here. But who knows?
Are you confused yet by the different Hamptons? No worries, your Discovery Map will help you sort them out.
Located south of Hampton Beach, Seabrook Beach stands out as one of the most serene beaches along New Hampshire’s eighteen-mile stretch of coastline. Indeed, here it’s more dialed down than at other beaches in the region. It’s a great place to rent a house and settle in for a week or two. If you’re into yoga or standup paddle boarding you can combine the two at SUP YO, a company that organizes yoga classes on SUPs in Seabrook Harbor as well as Rye Harbor. Doing yoga on a board intensifies the experience, since even more of a focus on balance is required when floating. Imagine how delightful the cool downs are; the lapping of the water on your board can easily lull you into a deep state of relaxation. Just be sure not to tip!
Speaking of Rye, be sure to visit the beaches north of Rye Harbor, which include Rye North Beach, Wallis Sands State Park Beach and Odiorne Point. South of Rye Harbor, beachgoers delight in doing all the beach-y things we love (think Frisbee, volleyball, soaking up the rays, swimming and more) at Jenness State Beach. Much like at Wallis Sands State Park Beach, it’s terrific for gathering with families and friends. Nature lovers must plan to spend time at Odiorne Point, the largest undeveloped stretch of shoreline on the coast of New Hampshire. It’s a great place for exploring the local fauna and flora. There are lots of tidal pools in the area that are cool to check out, too.
So you love beaches, oceans and waves? The best way to show that love is to get involved with Surfrider Foundation, an organization that helps to ensure clean water and promote healthy oceans, coastlines and beaches for all. You can make a donation and/or become actively involved in safeguarding all that we value about the surf.
Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, situated in the heart of Hampton Beach, offers hands-on opportunities for connecting with the ocean and its marine life. Through their various programs and touch tanks, Blue Ocean educates thousands of visitors about marine life and the importance of protecting our oceans and keeping beaches clean. They are particularly active with beach clean ups and the study of whales. Here’s a cool idea:Adopt a whale and your donation will go toward researching these magnificent mammals and educating others about the importance of their survival within their increasingly fragile ecosphere.
From fantastic fireworks, free concerts throughout the fair-weather season and all that was mentioned above, there’s always much going on in Hampton Beach. A lot of it centers around the Sea Shell Stage and concert hall, located just across from the Blue Ocean Society. The Hampton Beach Visitor Center is there as well (open only during the season). So head to this epicenter of Hampton Beach first, pick up a Discovery Map and start planning your stay in Hampton and Hampton, Seabrook and Rye Beaches and beyond. The world is your oyster. Or clam, if you prefer.