Despite 100 miles of South Shore coastline, only a handful of towns offer public access to their beaches, the rest restrict parking to residents and sticker-holders. So where can beach bums park their cars and towels?

Tom Foley, a trustee of Bathing Beach in Hingham, is proud of the free-to-all parking lot in front of the 100-yard strip of sand that serves as the town beach.

“I do believe each town should have an area for the general public.... A town with a seaside location should not restrict parking to residents only,” he said.

But most do.

Despite 100 miles of South Shore coastline, only a handful of towns offer easy access to their beaches and most restrict parking to residents and sticker-holders.

So where can the beach-loving public park both its cars and its towels south of Boston?

Duxbury Beach, Rexhame Beach in Marshfield, Nantasket Beach in Hull, Wollaston Beach in Quincy and Bathing Beach in Hingham all have public parking and lifeguards on duty during the summer, but only Bathing Beach and Wollaston Beach in Quincy let people park for free.

Duxbury Beach gets good reviews from out-of-towners even though the cost of a beach parking sticker is $240-$260 for them while it is $60 for town residents. Michelle Frye of Abington bought a beach sticker from the town of Duxbury for $240 and has been to the beach 24 times already this summer. The daily parking fee is $10. So the next time she hits the sand in Duxbury, she’ll be parking for free.

“I’ve been going there for nine years. I don’t even consider any others,” she said. “Everyone I’m friends with around here goes to Duxbury. It’s so clean and the kids love it.”

With 2000 parking spots, even late sleepers have a chance to catch some sun and a place to leave their cars at Duxbury Beach.

Leesha Boylan of Milton said she usually goes to White Horse Beach in Plymouth, where the parking is limited, or to Duxbury Beach.

She doesn’t like the fact that at most beaches on the South Shore, you’ve got to pay to play. At most beaches, you’ve also got to hunt for a place to park.

“I feel like there are only a few free spots left,” she said.
Sun-worshipers have to be careful while searching for a parking spot in most towns. To bask in Scituate, you must have a beach sticker and aside from Wollaston Beach, most Quincy beaches are small neighborhood areas with little or no parking.

Parking at Gray’s Beach in Kingston without a sticker typically ends with a ticket attached to your windshield and the same goes for Sandy Beach in Cohasset. Kingston residents pay $15 for a beach sticker for Gray’s Beach while non-residents must pay $50. Parking at Sandy Beach is limited to Cohasset residents.

Even when they’ve got a free option available to them, some locals prefer to pay to park - or have their parents pay, that is - at their favorite beach. Evan Pouch, 10, of Hingham, enjoys Nantasket Beach in Hull.

“There’s an ice cream truck,” he explained.

Stephanie Chaisson of The Patriot Ledger (Qunicy, Mass.) may be reached at schaisson@ledger.com.

Paying for some sun

Duxbury Beach
Gurnet Road, Duxbury
2,000 parking spots
Parking - $10 per day. Non-resident parking sticker, $240-$260; resident parking sticker, $60.
Lifeguards on duty 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
1.5 miles of beach

Nantasket Beach
Nantasket Ave., Hull
787 parking spots
Parking - $3 per day; $2 for seniors.
Lifeguards on duty 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
1.3 miles of beach

Rexhame Beach, Marshfield
Winslow St., Marshfield
212 parking spots
Parking - $5 weekdays; $10 weekends and holidays. Resident parking permit, $30.
Lifeguards on duty 9:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
1 mile of beach

Wollaston Beach
Quincy Shore Drive, Quincy
518 parking spots
Free parking
Lifeguards on duty 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
2.3 miles of beach

Bathing Beach
Route 3A, Hingham
50-60 parking spaces
Free parking
Lifeguards on duty at high tide.
100 yards of beach.