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Beaches are ready for visitors, even if the ocean is not

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 5/17/2017 By Andrew Grant
Marine Park Beach in South Boston on Wednesday. City beaches will open Thursday, in time for a scorching day. © John Tlumacki/Globe Staff Marine Park Beach in South Boston on Wednesday. City beaches will open Thursday, in time for a scorching day.

With temperatures reaching the 90s this week, many local residents will be looking to escape the heat at the beach — but they shouldn’t expect to get in the water.

“Our shops and beaches are absolutely ready to go, but I’d recommend a wetsuit if you want to go in the water,” said Sarah Potter, president of Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce. “For now, it’s just too cold.”

Jenna Sammartino, a park ranger with the Cape Cod National Seashore, offered a similar caution.

“People have to remember that just because it’s sunny doesn’t mean the water is warm,” said Sammartino. “Folks go out on kayaks or swimming without taking proper precautions, and it really doesn’t take that long for hypothermia to set in.”

The coastline’s waters are about 51 degrees — lower than the May average of 58 degrees, according to the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Despite the cool water temperatures, many coastal communities are planning to welcome visitors eager to take advantage of the nice weather.

On Cape Cod, five out of six beaches are open and “full” with people enjoying the warm weather, said Kathy Tevyaw, Interim Superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

“We’ve got a lot of walkers on the beach, but not a whole lot of swimmers,” Tevyaw said. “A few hardy surfers in wetsuits, but that’s about it.”

Potter agreed that even if the water is not ideal, that has not stopped tourists from coming for a visit to Ogunquit, a coastal community in southern Maine.

“Lots of people are walking the streets, stopping in at the visitor center, and the shops,” she said. “Just because you can’t go in the water doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do.”

In fact, what was once considered the “off-season” has quickly become a popular time for visitors, according to Tevyaw.

“Our season has really stretched from June to October as people realize there’s so much to do,” she said. “Whether it’s browsing the shops in spring, swimming in the summer, or hiking in the fall, there’s never really a bad time to visit Cape Cod.”

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