Cape Cod – Things To Do

Welcome to Gay Friendly Cape Cod Massachusetts…

People are drawn to Cape Cod for its world-famous beaches.  There are over 75 that are open to the public from Bourne to Provincetown and there is no one description that fits all, which keeps it interesting for the visitor and resident alike. Most beaches are salt water, on Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay, Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds, and the National Seashore on the Atlantic. The Atlantic can sometimes be rough and have a strong undertow; bayside beaches as well as those on both Sounds are, in general, safer for the casual swimmer.  There are public fresh water beaches to be found.  Fees are charged during the summer months.

There are numerous town boat launches for both ocean and fresh-water excursions.  If you don’t have your own “ride,” you can rent one.  Rentals are available for powerboats, sailboats, jet-skis, even a pontoon boat.  If you want someone else to do the sailing, some rental places offer tours.  There’s even an opportunity to take a ride on a schooner out of Provincetown.  There are whale watching trips and seal cruises from various locations as well.

“Where’s there’s water, there’s fish,” says a seasoned Cape Cod fisherman. There are fresh water venues, which require a fishing license, some stocked with trout and salmon. The ocean offers striped bass, bluefish, false albacore, bonito and flounder, depending on the season. You can fish from the beach or take a charter out into deeper waters. If you’ve never wet a line before, there are lessons offered in spincasting as well as fly-fishing.

There are over 25 campgrounds on the Cape, including three state parks. Campers with RVS can easily find locations with all the amenities. Tenters can rough it, sometimes in the same campground. Access to fresh or salt-water beaches is usually within walking distance. Four campgrounds are year-round (including the three state parks). Some open as early as April.

There are so many trails and walks on the Cape that even seasoned Cape Cod hikers may not have sampled them all. The beach, any beach, especially off-season, is a good place to start, just don’t forget the marshes, estuaries, the woodlands. Every town has its share of conservation areas. The National Seashore, and the three state parks, Nickerson, Shawme-Crowell and Scussett, all have walking trails. There’s the Rail Trail, walks along the Canal, and a bike path from Falmouth to Woods Hole. For something a little more rugged, try Sandy Neck.

One of the premier places to bike here is the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Over 20 miles, it follows an old railroad bed beginning in Dennis and running through Harwich, Brewster and Orleans, Eastham and ending in Wellfleet. Cyclists pass ponds, cranberry bogs and woodlands. It is the most well-known bike trail on the Cape, but not the only one. There’s the Canal Trail, the Shining Sea Bike Path in Falmouth, two trails within the National Seashore, several in Nickerson State Park, and one in Chatham. This does not include the ones cyclists find on their own: the scenic byways and mountain-biking opportunities they stumble on.  Bring a bike or rent one.

Kayaks are being seen more and more on Cape waters. Creeks through estuaries, rivers, ponds and lakes are perhaps easier for the beginning kayaker, but the more experienced brave the ocean currents. There are places to rent kayaks and to get a lesson. The beauty of a kayak is in how easy it is to find a place to paddle. No boat ramp needed.

Anywhere you can go on foot, by bike, or car, bring your binoculars and a field guide. There are birds everywhere: kingfishers, bluebirds, great blue herons, cardinals, the famous piping plover known to cordon off whole sections of beach by making one nest. There are guided birdwatching walks, resources such as the Audubon Society in Wellfleet and stores that cater specifically to everything bird.

The Cape has many public courses; all are excellent. There’s even a links course with an ocean view. Some years, depending on the weather, a golfer can play year-round. Grab a lesson or have a pro videotape and analyze your swing. There are excellent pro shops as well.

Synonymous with the sea, lighthouses certainly have their place here.  There are ten well-known ones on Cape Cod.  Cape Cod Light (Highland Light) in Truro is the most powerful in New England.  It also holds the distinction of being the replacement for the original lighthouse commissioned by George Washington, the first on the Cape.  Nobska Light is in Woods Hole; Sandy Neck Lighthouse, unlit, now just a beautiful structure, is at the end of Sandy Neck and can be viewed from Barnstable Harbor.  There are two private lights, Lewis Bay in Hyannis Harbor and Hardings Light off Harding’s Beach in Chatham. Chatham Light and Nauset Light were once in the same location, until the latter was moved to Eastham in 1923. Nauset Light replaced the Three Sisters lights, which are on view near the current lighthouse.  There are three in Provincetown: Race Point, Wood’s End and Long Point Lights. The latter two can be seen from town.  Lesser known lighthouses are Monomoy Point Light, West Dennis Light, Point Gammon Lighthouse, Wings Neck Lighthouse and Cleveland Ledge Light in Buzzards Bay.

Guided Tours:
There are tours by land, sea and air. Bird-watching, historic tours, whale-watching, seal cruises, glider and airplane rides over the Cape are some of the choices.

The Cape is accessible by its two bridges.  There are busses which travel here from Boston and Providence.  Flights go into Barnstable Municipal Airport as well.  Local busses run from Falmouth to Hyannis, Hyannis to Orleans. Shuttles take passengers to and from the ferries, especially in summer.