Places We Protect

Goosewing Beach Preserve

Rhode Island

A dozen small shorebirds run along the edge of the surf, probing the sand for food.
Dunlins foraging on Goosewing Beach, Little Compton area of Rhode Island. © Mark Godfrey/TNC

A magnificent and pristine coastal pond, barrier beach and dune system.



Why You Should Visit

Goosewing Beach Preserve is one of Rhode Island's most scenic spots and a favorite among visitors.  Purchased in 1989 by The Nature Conservancy and partners, the 75-acre Goosewing Beach Preserve is a historic landmark. TNC staff have been actively managing breeding populations of globally-rare piping plover and state-threatened least tern for the last two decades. With the help of an extremely generous donor, TNC opened the doors of a newly constructed environmental education center in June 2010. The Benjamin Family Environmental Center is ideally situated to offer visitors a view of the many types of habitats that make up this coastal pond/barrier beach ecosystem.

What to Expect

During the summer months, the Town of Little Compton manages recreational use of the beach through an agreement with The Nature Conservancy. The only public access to Goosewing Beach Preserve is through the town's South Shore Beach, which charges an entrance fee during the summer months.  

For the 2022 season the parking fee is $18/day on weekdays and $23/day on the weekends. The fee is charged from 8:00am until 4:00pm daily, from approximately Memorial Day until Labor Day. Please see the Little Compton Beach Commission’s website for more detailed beach regulations, including camping rules. Please leave your pets at home, and do not enter fenced areas marked off by enclosures. No dogs are allowed on the preserve from April 1st until September 1st. 

Why TNC Selected this Site

Working with the Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust and the RI Department of Environmental Management, TNC established the Goosewing Beach Preserve in 1989. It is one of five breeding sites for federally threatened piping plovers in the Sakonnet area of Rhode Island and nearby Westport, Massachusetts. Biologists have monitored the plover nesting grounds at Goosewing Beach since 1984. The muddy flats of the adjacent Quicksand Pond provide an important food source for piping plovers, as well as a safe brood-rearing area.

In addition, Goosewing Beach provides excellent breeding habitat for least terns, a state-threatened shorebird that often nests alongside plovers. The piping plover and the least tern were hunted almost to the point of extinction in the early 1900s. Along the Atlantic Coast, their populations were further impacted by increased oceanfront development, dune stabilization and beach improvement projects, increased recreational use and predation by dogs, skunks, raccoons, mink and gulls.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

TNC hires a plover assistant during nesting season (mid-April to early-September) to monitor and protect the species and to help educate beach-goers about the shorebirds and other wildlife that inhabit the area.




75 acres

Explore our work in Rhode Island

Preserve Guidelines

We hope you enjoy visiting our preserves in any season. We ask that you please observe the following guidelines:

  • Stay on the walking trails, using marked trails wherever they exist.
  • Respect preserve open hours (one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset). Overnight camping is not allowed.
  • Do not ride horses, bikes or any motorized vehicle through preserves or on the trails.
  • Do not disturb bird nesting areas. Between April 15 and September 1, nesting areas may be off-limits to visitors. People or dogs can easily destroy a nest with one misstep.
  • Leave your pets at home, for the safety of the fragile ecology of preserves and as a courtesy to other visitors.
  • Contact our office in Providence to visit those preserves that have restricted public access because of their very sensitive flora and fauna. These places deserve special respect and are best visited only on guided field trips.
  • Do not remove any living materials from a preserve or disturb any vegetation.
  • Remove any trash you create and, if possible, any garbage that you see left by someone else.
  • When visiting Block Island or Prudence Island in the spring, summer and fall, dress in long pants and socks to avoid deer ticks. After any walk on a preserve, it is a good idea to check for ticks when you return home.
  • Be careful! Your safety is your responsibility.

Thank you for your help.