State beaches have officially opened, with last Saturday’s nice weather bringing out flocks of sun-deprived Rhode Islanders to all eight locations managed by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM): Charlestown Breachway, East Beach, East Matunuck, Misquamicut, Roger Wheeler, Salty Brine, Scarborough North, and Scarborough South. Although cars lined up at various times at all beaches on Opening Day, East Matunuck and RI’s biggest beach, Misquamicut – historically known for traffic tie-ups – experienced particularly heavy backups at the entrances.

DEM offers the following tips to minimize traffic – and frustration – this weekend.

  1. Get There Early. Plan your timing. On weekends and holidays, beaches open at either 8 AM or 8:30 AM – when lifeguards go on duty – but parking lots will start accepting cars earlier. (See beach opening and closing hours below.) At some beaches, the later you arrive, the likelier it is you won’t get a parking spot until early afternoon, when the first wave of beach-goers is headed home.
  2. Have Payment and Vehicle Registration Ready. Nobody likes waiting, especially on a hot sticky day. But you can speed things up – for yourself and the people behind you – by having your cash or credit card and your vehicle registration ready when you reach the entrance booth. Your registration is not your license. It includes your vehicle identification number, registration fee, license plate number, and home address. (Most likely, it’s in the glove compartment along with your proof of insurance and related information.) By regulation, DEM relies only on vehicle registration to administer parking fees.
  3. Buy Seasonal Beach Passes on Weekdays. Having monitored entrance booths on Opening Weekend, DEM observes that as many as half of the people in line did not go to the beach. They bought seasonal beach passes and then left. Whereas the average transaction time for day passes ($6 on weekdays, $7 on weekends and holidays) took less than a minute, for seasonal pass sales, it jumped to three minutes per vehicle.
  4. Buy Seasonal Beach Passes Even If It’s Not “Beach Weather.” The forecast calls for unsettled weather into the middle of next week, with areas of dense fog on Saturday morning and cool and dry conditions on Sunday. “Although this weekend may not bring the kind of weather that’s made for having a picnic on the sand and watching the waves roll in, it might be the right weather to go out and buy your seasonal beach pass,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “If you cannot make it out during the work week to buy a seasonal pass, take advantage of less-than-ideal weather and buy a pass when fewer people will be at the beach.”
  5. Daily and Seasonal Parking Rates. The fee structure for the 2018 season is the same as last year. The daily beach parking fee for RI residents is $6 on weekdays and $7 on weekends and holidays. The fee for a season pass for residents is $30 and, through September 3, will be available for purchase at state beaches. Non-resident parking is $12 on weekdays and $14 on weekends and holidays. A season pass is $60 for non-residents. A 50% discount on daily parking fees and season passes applies for senior citizens 65 years and older. Fees are based solely on the vehicle registration (i.e., license plate) of each vehicle entering beach facilities. All Rhode Island-registered vehicles will be subject to resident parking rates; non-Rhode Island plates will be subject to non-resident rates. 
  6. Once You Have Your Seasonal Beach Pass. Please affix it to the outside of your windshield and do not transfer it to another vehicle. Your seasonal pass is not valid if it’s not displayed on your windshield. A receipt or proof of purchase will not be accepted in place of an actual pass. For questions, call the State Parks office at 401.667.6200 or email dem.riparks@dem.ri.gov.

Beach Hours

Location                                                     Monday – Friday                       Weekends + Holidays

Charlestown Breachway                                        8:30 AM – 4 PM                                8 AM – 4 PM

East Beach, Charlestown                                       8:30 AM – 4 PM                                8 AM – 4 PM

East Matunuck, South Kingstown                       9 AM – 4 PM                                      8:30 AM – 4 PM

Misquamicut, Westerly                                          9 AM – 4 PM                                      8:30 AM – 4 PM

Roger Wheeler, Narragansett                              9 AM – 4 PM                                      8:30 AM – 4 PM

Salty Brine, Narragansett                                       8 AM – 4 PM                                      8 AM – 4 PM

Scarborough North, Narragansett                     9 AM – 4PM                                       8:30 AM – 4 PM

Scarborough South, Narragansett                     9 AM – 4 PM                                      8 AM – 4 PM

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