I would assume that most people, when they think of New Hampshire, forget the few miles of beautiful coastline the state has to offer. The Granite State boasts a total of 18 miles of coast and we sure are proud of it. That being said, I personally think that only a portion of those 18 miles are worth experiencing. If you have a limited time in New Hampshire’s seacoast, Wallis Sands beach is the way to go.
Right now because of the pandemic, you are advised to reserve online. In fact, if you aren’t active duty military, a veteran, a season pass holder, have the NH State Park license plate, or over 65, I think you have to have a reservation. It’s pay per vehicle at $15, plus a $1 reservation fee. But you have access to restrooms, a park store (double check this is open due to the pandemic), life guards and a hose for rinsing feet at the end of the day.
Once you arrive and find a parking spot, it’s a quick walk to the sand. Take your pick on spots, they’re all good! If you get there and it’s a little too crowded (even at 50% capacity, Wallis Sands can be crowded!), look over to the right towards the rocks. Where the jetty meets the land, there’s a small pathway over the rocks. It’s hard to see unless you’re right near it. But if you want to make the trek over the rocks, you’re allowed to set up camp on that side of the rocks. There are no life guards, but it tends to be a little less populated than actual Wallis Sands.
What’s cool about Wallis Sands is that the tide change is very drastic. The beach at low tide is huge, it seems like it takes an eternity to get down to the water. But at low tide, people cram together on the remaining dry sand. Nothing crazy.
Why do I like Wallis Sands the best? I’m not the biggest fan of Hampton Beach. Hampton is not a good representation of what New Hampshire has to offer and it’s not really the vibe I’m going for. It’s always wicked crowded, there are a lot of groups of drunk young people (I mean I fit into that category but I’d consider myself a more responsible drinker than these youngin’s). Really, no hate towards Hampton it’s just not my scene. I do love going there in the off season or that sweet spot in the night where people aren’t quite stumbling through the streets drunk but there’s still a good amount of action going on. Going to the Hampton boardwalk in late spring is the ultimate time to go. There’s a good energy with the warmer weather and it’s fun to walk around and look at the weird tourist trap stores and restaurants.
With Wallis Sands, you’re paying for amenities that are a must when going to the beach. The steep entrance fee brings a certain type of demographic. Families, older couples or those who are looking to have a relaxing beach experience.
Overall: If you’re looking for a party vibe with lots of young drunk people, Hampton is the way to go. If you’re looking for a nice, relaxing time at the beach, Wallis Sands is the way to go.
Bonus: If you’re looking for a beautiful drive, put into your GPS Odiorne State Park, then take 1A down the coast. I usually get off when the road splits to 101E so I can avoid Hampton Beach traffic. The traffic there is extra bad this year because the shut some roads down for outdoor dining.