Joseph Sylvia State Beach Rules & Regulations

The following regulations have been enacted by the Dukes County Commission to ensure that the beach can be enjoyed by the public while also protecting the natural resources found on the beach.
Waterfront portions of the beach and marked trails are for public access by pedestrians only.
Use designated pathways between parking areas and waterfront areas. Do not walk on the vegetation, climb dunes (DUNES MAY BE FULL OF TICKS AND POISON IVY), cut or remove any vegetation. Harvest of berries (blueberries, beach plums, rose hips) is allowed along roadside and designated pathways only.
Keep out of wildlife protection areas delineated by rope (symbolic) fencing during bird nesting season (April 1 – August 31, or until the nesting season ends).
Kites (including those used for kite surfing), along with their operators, are prohibited from launching, flying, and disembarking within 200 meters of shorebird nesting, chick rearing, and foraging areas during the nesting season, April 1 through August 31. ~Kites resemble predators and disturb the nesting and foraging birds.
No balloons are allowed on the beach.
DOGS AND PETS restrictions:
  • April 1st – August 31st strictly prohibited (nesting season)
  • September – prohibited between 9am to 5pm.
  • October 1st - March 31st – allowed
  • Dog owners must remove all waste.
Vehicles must remain in designated parking areas. Tires must keep off all sand and vegetation.
  • All vehicles, including “recreational vehicles, off-road vehicles” (ORV) and “all-terrain vehicles” (ATV) are prohibited on the beach.
  • No motorized craft or anchoring within the designated swimming area, which is within 300 yards of the beach.
  • No carrying or consuming alcoholic beverages on the beach.
No open fires or fireworks. Charcoal grills are not allowed. ~Contained gas grills may be used for cooking purposes only.
No canopies larger than 10x12 feet.
No overnight camping or sleeping
No removing, defacing or otherwise damaging signs, posts, roping or other structures.
No littering: Remove all rubbish, trash, food or refuse which you are responsible for ($3,000 fine per MGL Chapter 270, Section 16). Everything carried in MUST be carried out and disposed of properly of site. There are no trash receptacles on the beach. ~
Behavior that endangers the public, causes a nuisance or harasses wildlife is prohibited.
There are no lifeguards, swim at your own risk.


PARTIES OR SPECIAL EVENTS – Any group, gathering or convergence of more than 50 people for social, recreational or commercial purposes is required to obtain a permit in advance from the County Manager’s Office. Any event or group utilizing a caterer or conducting any commercial activity (regardless of number of people in the group) is also required to obtain a permit. Permit Applications can be obtained on the county website or  by contacting the County Manager at , P.O. Box 190, Edgartown, MA 02539. ~Tel. 508 696 3840


  • People licensed to harvest shellfish in either Oak Bluffs or Edgartown may drive on the Sengekontacket Pond shoreline of Joseph A. Sylvia State Beach to access the shell fishing areas that are open for shellfishing. They need to be actively shellfishing and carry current shellfishing permit to be allowed to drive and park in the area.
  • The presence of nesting shorebirds may close part of or the entire beach to vehicular access.
  • Vehicles must stay on the dry sand between the dunes and the normal high tide waterline, so access is not possible during some high tides.
  • Vehicles designated or modified for use over unimproved terrain such as “recreational vehicles”, “off-road vehicles” (ORV) or “all terrain vehicles” (ATV) are prohibited on all County beaches (except for official use by governmental and enforcing agencies).
  • Vehicles must be in four-wheel drive.
  • Tires shall be maintained at a maximum of 15 pounds per square inch. ~If your tires start to spin in soft sand, let more air out of the tires.
  • Driving or parking is prohibited in the following areas: On vegetation; within 15 feet of snow fencing; within 15 feet of the toe of the dune.
  • Speed limit is 10 mph.
  • All vehicles must carry the following: beach regulations, spare tire, a rope strap chain or cable of sufficient strength and length to tow your vehicle, jack and a board to go under the jack (a jack in loose sand is useless), heavy duty shovel and tire pressure gauge registering 10psi or less.
  • Drivers must fill in the ruts and holes they dig to remove their vehicle from loose sand.
There will be a $50 fine for each infraction (Mass.General Law Acts 1971, Section 161.) unless MGL specifies a higher fine (littering, illegal parking in handicap parking spot, etc.).
Approved as amended on May 1, 2019.