This is a sandy beach with plenty of free paved parking. It can be a bit littered so I wear water shoes while prepping to launch. I have launched both paddleboards and kayaks here. From this spot you can go right and check out the pier and birds that hang out there, the old fort just past it, , and the park next door. Be wary of the coast guard's channel. It's a quick cross with the typical channel marking, but just be cognizant that this is where they will likely be responding from in an emergency. I've paddled all the way into the harbor to explore- no significant concern for boat traffic along the shores, but there are tankers that are docked further down along the right and their docks that you need to stay a reasonable distance from.
If you launch to the left, you can explore Morris Cove and the seawall, see Anthony's Oceanview, pass through a small marina, the yacht club, and come to Lighthouse Park on the left. Use caution rounding the park by the lighthouse as there is a cross current there that can be choppy. Also there is a jetty on the left so as the tide is going out be cognizant that there could be rocks under the water if you're hugging the shoreline very closely. I have never had any issue just watching and steering around it and the usual fishermen. On the left past that is a sandy beach which is off limits to landing while in season and marked with buoys for swimming. Proceed past that and you will see a small opening between the beach and condos on the right. If you enter that river you can explore inland a bit. Birds, crabs, mussels.... it's very relaxing and calm. Low tide can limit how far you can explore but shouldn't get you stuck. Most if not all around there is private property but if you stay in the water there should be no issue. Once you enter the river, there's a sandy spot just after the entrance on the left where you can beach, launch, or load your craft. It is inside of Lighthouse Park and is designated. Lighthouse Park charges $20-30 for parking without a New Haven registration, so I usually just turn it around and return to Nathan Hale Park. It's one of my favorite paddles.
Of note, although the beach itself can be a bit debris-strewn, it's not terrible by any means- I park there and lock my car as usual and never have any issue with safety or security. In fact, there are a few locals who frequent there religiously that love to chat and tend to keep an eye out for you. :) I do recommend a VHF marine radio- I carry a handheld- if you plan to go out any distance into the channel and harbor. That way you can hear any large vessels coming through, weather alerts, etc. I have paddled across to west haven from there with no issue at all. Caution needed across the boat channel and over the breakwater just outside of the west haven beach. I used to paddle there and get lunch at Chips, but they've since closed. Still a neat trip, though! I've also launched and gotten out at the seawall in a pinch, but the beach is gated off so there's some carrying and lifting/climbing involved. There are also several sets of stairs leading cove to park, but they are pretty steep and there's approx 12 of them leading to an iron gate that must be opened. There's an art to it, but it's never easy. But still an option if needed. Just past Anthony's on the left is also a public access point. I usually stop just out in he water from the beach there and go for a nice swim with my dog. There's a small launch that takes folks out from the marina to their moored boats so that's the only really consistent traffic; also any of the boats in the marina coming in and out to their moorings. They are a mix of sailboats and motor, but on the smaller side. Staying closer to the shore should ensure that any jetski traffic is well away from you; I just use caution during peak times and holidays. They usually launch from a spot in Lighthouse Park on the left past the marina but before the jetty by the lighthouse. It's clearly marked. You can, of course, launch and load from here too but there's the parking fee i mentioned earlier. Decent place to stop for a rest or lunch etc, though. Overall, this is a safe place and interesting, with plenty of exploring options for paddles of any distance desired. Sunsets are AMAZING all along here, too! Good stuff.