Did you know that sand can sing? In the United States and other locations worldwide, the shifting sands of dunes and beaches call visitors to experience the music. In reality, the sands don’t really sing, but they do make sounds.
One location along the East Coast where you can find this phenomenon is the Singing Beach in Massachusetts. Let’s learn more about what you can experience there.
What Is the Singing Beach in Massachusetts?
Located in Manchester-by-the-Sea, about an hour from Boston, the Singing Beach features “singing” sands and a beautiful secluded landscape. As you walk out onto the beach, shuffle your feet to hear the unique musical sounds. It’s a public beach, but parking is difficult for non-residents of Manchester-by-the-Sea.
Where Is the Singing Beach?
Take Route 95/128 North from the Boston area to exit 16 (Pine Street/ Manchester exit). At the end of the ramp, turn left and follow the road to the end. Take a left onto Route 127, where you’ll enter downtown Manchester. You’ll come to an intersection with a gas station, Crosby’s Market, and the Post Office. Here Route 127 turns sharply left. Instead of following Route 127, go straight over the railroad tracks to Beach Street.
The area has minimal parking. If driving into Manchester-by-the-Sea as a non-resident, you can only park at the Singing Beach Monday through Friday if there’s space. It costs $30 per day for parking. On the weekends, parking at Singing Beach is limited to residents with a Manchester Resident Parking Sticker.
You can take public transportation from the North Station in Boston to avoid the parking fees and difficulties. Take the Rockport Commuter Rail Line to the Manchester stop. Walk up Beach Street towards the shoreline, about half a mile to the Singing Beach. The Commuter Rail also has a Bike Coach, so you can easily transport your bike if desired.
Why Do They Call It the Singing Beach?
The singing phenomenon occurs on beaches where the sand is round, measures 0.1-0.5 millimeters wide, and contains some silica. As the sand grains rub together, visitors hear the musical sounds. However, changes in weather and humidity affect the sound. Some visitors claim it sounds more squeaky than musical. But the best chance of hearing the sounds is on the dry side above the high tide lines.
Does the Singing Beach in Massachusetts Really Sing?
Also called whistling and barking sand, singing sand emits a sound. Keep in mind, it won’t sound like the Sirens’ sweet music along the shoreline. The conditions have to be suitable for it to make sounds. But no one quite understands the process.
Some theorists believe the sound is related to the thickness of the dry surface layer, while others think it’s generated by the friction between the grains or by the air compression between them.
You can find singing sand in numerous places across the globe. However, not all singing sand will sound the same. There’s a wide frequency range that includes barking and high-pitched squeals.
How to Visit the Singing Beach
If you want to visit this half-mile-wide sandy beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, you’ll need to plan ahead. Especially if you’re a non-resident, arrive early to try to score a parking space.
As already mentioned, parking is very limited, even around the town of Manchester. You won’t find much public parking. Take public transportation if you can to avoid the hassle of parking. But if you want to drive to Singing Beach as a non-resident, you can only park from June 20 through Labor Day and Oct. 15 to April 15. But even then, you aren’t guaranteed a parking space.
Masconomo Park, about a half-mile from the beach, has limited spaces available to non-residents for three hours. You might find street parking in Manchester for two hours. On weekends during the summer, the local Boy Scouts sell parking spaces behind the train station for $25 per day.
Parking for non-residents costs $30 unless you visit on the weekends during the summer and buy a parking space from the Boy Scouts. When you arrive at Singing Beach, you’ll also have an entrance fee of $10. You can only pay for parking and fees with cash or checks. A season pass costs $35. Visitors 65 and older don’t pay the entrance fee.
Other than the beach, the only amenity is a bathhouse. It’s open from Memorial Day to mid-June on weekends only, but from mid-June to Labor Day, it opens daily. The restrooms have sinks, toilets, urinals, showers, and changing stalls.
Dogs are welcome from October 15 to April 15. Owners must always clean up after their pets. Dogs can run off-leash but must wear a collar with identification, be licensed, and be vaccinated. Only two dogs are permitted per person.
Traveler’s Tip: After exploring Manchester-by-the-Sea, grab a drink at one of these Best Wineries in Massachusetts to Get Your Drink On.
Are There Other Singing Beaches?
Other singing beaches include Singing Sands Beach in Basin Head Provincial Park and Souris, on the eastern tip of Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can also find the phenomenon in about 35 desert locations worldwide.
In the United States, visitors can explore the singing sand of Kelso Dunes and Eureka Dunes in California, AuTrain Beach in northern Michigan, Warren Dunes in southwestern Michigan, Indiana Dunes in Indiana, and Sand Mountain in Nevada.
What Else Is There to Do Near the Singing Beach?
If you plan on visiting Singing Beach, you’ll find a handful of other attractions nearby worth exploring as well. Especially if you only have Singing Beach parking for two or three hours, enjoy the sandy shoreline and then head to one of these other locations.
Hammond Castle Museum
You can take a guided or self-guided tour through Hammond Castle Museum, located about 13 minutes up the coast from Singing Beach. Inventor John Hays Hammond, Jr. constructed the castle in 1926.
The medieval castle served as his residence and housed his private collection of artifacts from ancient Rome through the Renaissance. The Hammond Castle Museum is only open on certain days and times throughout the year, so check the website or call before arriving.
Just a 5-minute drive from Singing Beach is the Sharksmouth Estate, a historic, private, and family-owned 40-acre woodland estate. The property has 1/3 of a mile of shoreline, four summer vacation homes, a clay tennis court, orchard, winding paths, tidal pools, swimming, and more.
Guests can enjoy this vacation home rental estate while taking advantage of kayaking, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
Manchester Historical Museum
Manchester Historical Museum is less than a mile inland from Singing Beach. Founded in 1886, the museum has preserved town records and artifacts for almost 130 years.
It’s open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. February through mid-December. In July and August, it’s open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays as well. Guests can visit the Trask House, built in 1823 and expanded in 1834. Visitors will see a collection of period furniture, artifacts, and fine art.
Also located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, the Coolidge Reservation lies less than 10 minutes from Singing Beach. The 64 acres include a beautiful pond, a small forest, and stunning views.
The Ocean Lawn is open Friday through Monday, while the rest of the property is open daily. Hikers will enjoy the Bungalow Hill Trail Loop and Clark Pond Trail. You might catch a glimpse of snapping turtles, great and snowy egrets, black-crowned night herons, and monarch butterflies. Dog walking is not permitted on the Ocean Lawn, and mountain biking isn’t allowed anywhere on the property.
Traveler’s Tip: After exploring Manchester-by-the-Sea, take some time to Relax Your Mind at the Peace Pagoda.
Is the Singing Beach in Massachusetts Worth a Visit?
If visiting Boston for a few days, take a day trip down to Manchester-by-the-Sea and explore the singing sands along the shoreline. But don’t spend all of your time there. Take a few hours to enjoy the other area attractions before taking public transportation back to Boston. Learn about the area’s history while reveling in the beauty of the coast.
As you walk along the sandy beach, what will you hear? Will it be barking, squeaking, or melodious music?
Let’s make friends!
Sign up for our newsletter and get notified of the best travel destinations for your next trip.