State Beaches Open Daily Starting Saturday, But Beach Traffic Makes Everyone Salty - So, Buy Your Parking Pass Beforehand

Published on Tuesday, May 21, 2024

PROVIDENCE, RI – Memorial Day Weekend is the official kick-off of the summer beach season, and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is encouraging beachgoers to buy their state beach parking pass well in advance of their visit. Annually, state beach season parking passes are available for purchase starting the first week of January, and purchasing passes ahead of beach season helps reduce the amount of time beachgoers spend at the entry booths during the busy holiday weekend. Once purchased, season passes do not go into immediate effect. It takes up to 24 hours during the summer months for the buyer’s residency status and age to be verified to charge the correct fee and for the pass to be validated. Individuals may purchase beach parking passes at to purchase your state beach parking season pass. For a step-by-step guide on purchasing your state beach parking pass online, click here. 

All state beaches, except for Scarborough South State Beach, will be open daily starting Saturday, May 25, through Labor Day. As has been the case for several years, Scarborough South will not officially open until Saturday, June 15; lifeguards, beach staff, concessions, and restrooms will be available at that time. 

“The First Lady and I love beach season and Rhode Island has the best beaches anywhere,” said Governor Dan McKee. “We look forward to welcoming all Rhode Islanders and visitors to our beautiful beaches to have a fun, happy, and safe summer!”

“Memorial Day weekend is the on-switch for the summer and DEM invites Rhode Islanders to get out and enjoy their state parks and beaches over the coming months,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “From widening the entrance at East Matunuck State Beach to get cars off the road and into the parking lot faster to pavilion concessions that offer everything from boogie boards to chicken fingers to Del’s Lemonade, we want you to unplug and relax at the beach this summer. There’s nothing like summer in Rhode Island and any day at the beach is a good day!” 

Scarborough North, Roger Wheeler, Salty Brine, East Matunuck, Charlestown Breachway, East Beach, and Misquamicut state beaches will be open daily from 9 AM to 6 PM on weekdays and 8:30 AM to 6 PM on weekends and holidays, weather permitting. Scarborough South in Narragansett will open daily on June 15 until Aug. 18. After Aug. 18, this beach will be open weekends-only through Sept. 2. Other facilities open daily, weather permitting, beginning on May 25 through Labor Day include the beaches at Burlingame State Picnic Area, Lincoln Woods State Park, Goddard Memorial State Park, Pulaski Park, and Fort Adams State Park. There are no fees to access beaches within state parks. Lifeguards are on duty, as staffing allows, seasonally from 9 AM to 6 PM. When lifeguards are not on duty, swimmers are responsible for their own safety. DEM highly recommends that people of all ages learn to swim, respect the water, and know their swimming limitations. Parental or adult supervision is critical. Children and teenagers should always be supervised while swimming, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Labor Day is the last day of the season that state beaches will be staffed with lifeguards and rangers and after it, restrooms will be closed and winterized for the season.

Along with the online option, state beach season parking passes may be purchased in person at the Scarborough North State Beach overflow lot (on Burnside Avenue, Narragansett) from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday starting Tuesday, May 28 through Friday, August 9. Season passes are not for sale at state beach entrance booths. DEM urges customers purchasing day passes at the entrance booths or customers purchasing a season pass at the overflow lot to have their money and documents ready to show the attendant to allow for these transactions to occur quickly and efficiently. Along with credit and debit cards, Apple PayGoogle Pay, and Samsung Pay are all accepted as payment methods, allowing quicker “scan to pay” transactions. Online credit card purchases are charged a 6% transaction charge; the total for a $30 RI resident season pass purchased online is $31.80. 

Season passes allow entry into parking lots at all eight of Rhode Island's state beaches: Charlestown Breachway, East Beach in Charlestown, East Matunuck in South Kingstown, Misquamicut in Westerly, Roger Wheeler, Scarborough North and South, and Salty Brine in Narragansett. However, it does not guarantee admission on high-capacity days or provide preference over other passes. Entry is on a first-come, first served basis at all locations. Resident and non-resident status are based solely upon the state in that the vehicle is registered. If you purchase a resident pass, your vehicle must be registered in Rhode Island. The only exception to this regulation is military personnel who are stationed in Rhode Island and provide proof or permanent duty papers. All others are required to purchase a non-resident pass. If the pass does not match the state registration status of the vehicle, the pass will be voided, and the occupants will be required to pay the day-use parking fee. Passes are non-transferable. A parking pass is tied to the specific vehicle. Please note that if you are purchasing a pass for a second vehicle, you will need to use a different email address. Only one email address can be used per vehicle. 

Season passes no longer require a physical pass to be placed on vehicle windshields as passes are now electronically connected to an individual’s license plate. DEM’s parking vendor, LAZ Parking, uses license plate recognition (LPR) technology at the express lanes whereby a scan is taken of the rear license plates of prepaid customers confirming that the customer has paid to allow for quick entry. Prepaid customers may use the express lanes at beaches for speedier access. Express lanes are available at all state beaches except for East Beach, Charlestown Breachway, and Salty Brine, which are one-lane facilities. 

DEM reminds beachgoers that RI state beaches reach capacity quickly during holiday weekends with many thousands of people going to the same beaches at the same times. For the safety and enjoyment of beach patrons, staff monitor the available space on the sand and may close parking lot entrances to prevent overcrowding, ensuring lifeguards and first responders have space to respond to water emergencies and that beach facilities can support the number of people on a given day. Closed lots may reopen as space becomes available. DEM encourages beachgoers to check the near real-time beach capacity status before heading to the beach and to be patient and courteous to others as they enter beach parking lots. If you arrive at a favorite beach and find that the beach is full, please consider visiting a different location or returning at another time of day. 

DEM is continuing to recruit to fill a wide range of seasonal jobs for critical summertime positions like lifeguards, park rangers, visitor services assistants, natural resource operations assistants, and other key staff to work at state beaches, parks, and campgrounds during the busy outdoor recreation season. Full-time lifeguard positions are available at all state swimming areas, including surf beaches such as Roger Wheeler and Misquamicut, non-surf beaches such as Goddard Memorial State Park, and freshwater beaches such as Burlingame Campground and Lincoln Woods State Park. Lifeguard pay ranges from $17.75 to $19 an hour based on location, experience, and position level. All lifeguard candidates must receive state certification and hold valid cards in lifeguard training, first aid, and CPR, including infant, child, and adult. Lifeguards hired by June 28, 2024, can receive a one-time, $500 sign-on bonus. Lifeguard staff who remain in good standing throughout their employment, have not taken more than five unapproved days off over the summer, and stay employed until Sept. 2, 2024, will be eligible for a one-time, $500 retention bonus. For more information about becoming a DEM lifeguard, please visit:

Carry-in/Carry-Out Trash Policy

Everyone who enjoys parks, beaches, and public outdoor spaces has a responsibility to keep them clean. All DEM properties have a carry-in/carry-out trash policy. This policy has been in effect since 1992. We ask all visitors to come prepared to secure their trash in their own containers and dispose of it properly when they return home. This simple measure helps minimize litter, reduces nuisance wildlife issues, and prevents trash and plastics from entering coastal waters. “The carry-in/carry-out policy is a best practice across the country because it promotes conservation, fosters a sense of stewardship, and leads to better visitor experiences,” said Director Gray. 

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.