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Marblehead’s beaches do a lot with a little

Although Marblehead is a peninsula with miles of coastline, it’s not brimming with beaches. Much of the town’s shore is either rocky or privately owned. While the town does have several public beaches on which to bury your toes in the sand, some are harder to find than others. That is why we at northshore wanted to offer this handy guide to some of Marblehead’s best sand bars.

At the gateway to Marblehead lies Preston Beach. With its smooth, hard-packed sand, Preston is a favorite of locals from the surrounding Clifton neighborhood. Sunbathers often congregate on a nearby seawall, but this is not recommended, because there’s no railing and the wall is crumbling in spots. If the tide gets too high, retire to a bench at Beach Bluff Park overlooking Preston. Hungry? Grossman’s Delicatessen (781 639 4448) serves a homemade corned beef sandwich for $6.49. Parking in a small nearby lot is $5 per visit or $35 for a summer pass.

Devereux Beach runs along the causeway that connects Marblehead Neck to the mainland. It is the only public beach in town that has bathrooms and a lifeguard on duty. Parts of Devereux are often crowded on weekends, but it’s a half-mile long, so seek out a private spot at either end. As the pebbly sand often gets blazing hot, flip-flops are recommended, especially for strolling to the on-site playground and volleyball court, or eating at or just sitting on the picnic tables and benches. The beach is also known for a slight riptide in spots. Technophiles will love this beach as it has wi-fi service. Hungry? Try the $14.95 fried seafood combo plate (shrimp, scallops, scrod, clams, and fries) at Flynnies at the Beach (781 639 3035).

Out-of-towners can park for $5 Monday through Thursday and for $10 Friday through Sunday, 9:30 AM to 5 PM. Locals can get a facilities sticker (which also allows them to use the town’s transfer station and recycling center) from the town tax collector for $50.

Narrow streets and eclectic boutiques are staples of Old Town Marblehead, but walk a little and you’ll find that this historic area has some sandy spots as well. Grace Oliver Beach on Beacon Street is a serene cove where many a beach book has been devoured. Crowninshield Island (“Brown’s Island” to you ‘Headers) is a stone’s skip from Grace Oliver and accessible by foot at low tide. Owned and operated by The Trustees of Reservations, this small island features a curving, quiet swath of sand, trails, and rocky outcrops from which to take in views of Marblehead Harbor, Gerry Island, Abbot Hall and Gashouse Beach. While hard to find and often covered in broken mussel shells, Gashouse exudes rustic charm. Hungry? Try the gigantic tuna subs at The Little Store (781 631 0477), or the famous seafood chowder at The Barnacle Restaurant (781 631 4236).

Keep in mind that parking is hard to come by, so many visitors choose to hoof it from Old Town.

Whether you like to read and relax, play in the sand, sunbathe, or swim, Marblehead has a beach for you. And the town is small enough that you can explore them all in a day. So get out there and make it a day at the beach!