Destination Countryside: Cape Cod

Cape Cod
Cape Cod

Cape Cod is a geographic cape extending into the Atlantic Ocean from the southeastern corner of mainland Massachusetts, in the northeastern United States. Its historic, maritime character and ample beaches attract heavy tourism during the summer months. But even with heavy tourism you can still get away from it all and into the nature.

It extends from Provincetown in the northeast to Woods Hole in the southwest, and is bordered by Plymouth to the northwest. Since 1914, Cape Cod has been separated from the mainland by the Cape Cod Canal. The canal cuts 17.5 miles roughly across the base of the peninsula, though small portions of the Cape Cod towns of Bourne and Sandwich lie on the mainland side of the canal. Two highway bridges cross the Cape Cod Canal: the Sagamore Bridge and the Bourne Bridge. In addition, the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge carries railway freight and limited passenger services onto the Cape. Cape territory is divided into 15 towns with many villages.

What to do? It is impossible to be bored on the Cape & Islands! If you’re an active traveler, we have hiking, biking, or paddleboards, kayaks, boats and surfboards to rent. Interested in marine life? Take in a whale or seal watch. Golf at one of our over 50 courses and enjoy our extended warm weather. Take a drive down one of our main streets and visit our world-class shops and galleries, or catch a show or exhibit at one of our many museums and theaters.

Top Nature Activities

  1. Fishing Charters & Tours – Cape Cod is a wonderful place for fishing. In addition to the legendary status for striped bass fishing Cape Cod serves as the northern most point for many warm water species such porgy, sea bass, fluke, bonito, false ablecore, tuna and marlin and the southern most migration for many cold water fish such as winter flounder, cod and Haddock.nFishing on Cape Cod has many wonderful opportunities for families and expert anglers alike.
  2. Kayaking –  guided tours in and around the Cape Cod National Seashore. Come explore parts of the Cape that are inaccessible by any other means but personal watercraft. Learn about the geography, ecology and history of Cape Cod while paddling 3 hrs.+ through narrow water trails, inlets, coves and bays.
  3. Whale Watcher Cruises – Early season whale watching means lighter crowds and the opportunity for some very special sightings. Winter visitors like harbor porpoise and the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale are commonly observed at this time of year. Humpback, finback, and minke whales return hungry to begin their summer feeding seasons. The waters around Cape Cod consistently rank as one of the world’s top 10 whale watching destinations.
  4. Dune Tours – With bluffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and sweeping dunes and beaches below, the Cape Cod National Seashore is unlike anywhere else on the east coast and would be prime real estate for builders if it weren’t for conservation. The complex history of the dunes begins with eroded glacial scarp, leaving the dry sand dunes today.
  5. Shining Sea Bikeway – It follows the original route of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad that used to run from Buzzards Bay, through North and West Falmouth, around Woods Hole and into Falmouth Station. In the early 1970’s the Town of Falmouth purchased the right of way, tore up the tracks and officially opened the 3.3-mile Shining Sea Bikeway in 1975. In 2009, a new 7.4-mile section was added, extending the trail to North Falmouth. Now the SSB runs 10.7 miles from County Road in North Falmouth all the way to the Steamship Authority parking lot in Woods Hole.
  6. Cape Cod Rail Trail – The Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT) is a paved bikeway that runs 25 miles from South Dennis to Wellfleet. The terrain is relatively flat with some minor grades in certain sections in the Lower / Outer Cape areas, specifically Orleans and Wellfleet. It easily offers the greatest variety in scenery and natural landscapes of all the regional bike paths.
  7. Cape Cod National Seashore – The great Outer Beach described by Thoreau in the 1800s is protected within the national seashore. Forty miles of pristine sandy beach, marshes, ponds, and uplands support diverse species. Lighthouses, cultural landscapes, and wild cranberry bogs offer a glimpse of Cape Cod’s past and continuing ways of life. Swimming beaches and walking and biking trails beckon today’s visitors.
  8. Race Point Beach – Race Point Beach, one of the Cape Cod National Seashore beaches in Provincetown, has a wide swath of sand stretching far off into the distance around the point and Coast Guard station. Behind the beach are dunes. Bike trails lead off the parking lot. Some boats in view. Surfing allowed past protected area. Bugs were exceptionally annoying. Not raked. Nice big beach. Race Point Beach is known for its rougher waters and beautiful landscape. A strong undertow makes it more difficult for swimmers, so it’s best for inexperienced swimmers to stay in the shallow areas. This is also a spectacular beach for sunbathers due to its northern location – the sun shines directly on the sand all day. If feeling athletic after lounging on the beach all morning, Province Lands Bike Trail is nearby leads to fellow Seashore beach, Herring Cove.
  9. Mayflower Beach – Large beach. Connects with Bayview Beach. Pools at low tide. Nice sand. Very popular. All ages. Boardwalk. Large parking lot. Attendant on duty. Short walk to beach. Small waves. Mayflower Beach is a gorgeous beach on Cape Cod Bay that’s great for people of all ages. Children will enjoy the many shallow pools created at low tide, while parents will enjoy the serenity of the a calm beach. Among the most scenic of Dennis’ 16 beaches, it features a boardwalk that stretches from the large parking lot over the dunes to the beach below. This is a favorite spot for families. Mayflower Beach reveals hundreds of feet of tidal flats at low tide.
  10. Sunset Sailing – Sunset sail-up the coast to historic Blackfish Creek, site of the former South Wellfleet schooner harbor, and grounding location of pilot whales, then across the harbor to Great Island. Sail along the shore and into the gorgeous Herring River estuary (tide permitting) to watch the beautiful sunset over the diminutive sand dunes where Great Island connects to Chequesset Neck. Then sail back to the harbor as the sky darkens with orange, pink, and violet colors. Most days the wind is more gentle in the evening.