Posted by: Jack Spratt | March 12, 2009

Cape Cod Vacation – New England’s Favorite Beaches

About 60 miles south of Boston, Massachusetts, is the most easterly peninsular in the United States. Cape Cod is a popular vacation area in New England. But it wasn’t always that way.

In the 19th century travel beyond Barnstable was mostly on foot and through what most saw as an inhospitable environment. This was the period when Henry David Thoreau visited and saw beyond the harsh economies and beaches strewn with shipwrecks. Thoreau saw an area we now call the Great Beach of Cape Cod.

The beaches on the Outer Cape that Thoreau explored have long since eroded but the remarkable landscape can still be enjoyed.

Today one of major attractions on Cape Cod is the National Seashore beaches from Nauset Beach in Orleans to the dunes of Province Lands in Provincetown. This is a continuous stretch of 44-miles of white sand beaches. And arguably the best on the east coast of America.

The Cape Cod National Seashore is a protected area that includes not only these beaches but nature trails, salt marshes, swamps, freshwater ponds, and some great hiking and biking paths. In short an ideal place to take a Cape Cod Vacation.

And I have, many times. Mostly with family, but sometimes out of season and on my own.

The ocean beaches on the Cape are colder than on the bay side. The Atlantic and sand bars make for challenging swimming and families keep kids in eyesight at all times. But it has marvelous sand, and the chance to see seals while eating your picnic.

The Cape Cod beaches are all my favorites. But I do have a special few I’ll share.

Nauset Beach in Orleans is great for long walks and watching out for seals. In the summer the sands get hot, and in winter it sees fierce storms and changes its character. Coastguard Beach is where many consider the Great Beach of Thoreau to begin and is a short bike ride from the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitor Center in Eastham – this beach is popular so get there early. Henry Beston wrote his famous “Outermost House” not far from this beach.

Further up the Outer Beach in Eastham are Nauset Light Beach with its beautiful lighthouse and imposing sand cliffs – again great for walks – and the last in Eastham is Marconi Beach – so named after the inventor who built a historical radio station here and transmitted the first transatlantic message to England. Today Marconi Beach has a historical site to explore and wonderful beaches to relax and enjoy and stroll.

Wellfleet has a number of great beaches but Truro has the delightful Head of the Meadow Beach. This beach has a large campsite close by and I remember walking down one night many years ago and laying on the beach near the dunes listening to the waves crashing and staring up at one of the most wonderous views of our Milky Way Galaxy I’ve ever experienced.

The dunes of Province Lands create some remarkable memories and Race Point Beach. On a summer’s afternoon you can watch the fishing boats catching bass and the whale watching cruise ships heading out to nearby Stellwagen Bank. There is a beautiful lighthouse located close to the beach, and the interior area includes the Province Lands Visitor Center and plenty of walking and bike paths, although the paths are shared so watch out!

I’ve skipped over many great beaches for visiting and swimming but its time to end this post for today.

I’ll revisit Cape Cod in other posts but my travels take me on to other places now and so come back and visit and discover where they take me… and you.

Jack

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Responses

  1. Love those Cape Cod beaches. I enjoy the national seashore beaches as well but there are some nice Bay beaches as well, which are warmer, and when the tide is out you can walk a long way out.

    Great for kids.

    These include Skaket Beach in Orleans, Great Hollow Beach in Truro, and Sandy Neck Beach in Sandwich.

    Hansen

  2. Thanks Jack for putting my site on your blogroll. I like your stories so far so please keep up the good work and bring us those quiet places in New England that mean so much to us all, and make this a special part of the world to live in and visit.

    Cliff

  3. There are so many beaches to love on the Cape especially the ones you mentioned on the National Seashore. We enjoy those along the sound along Harwich and Dennis as being family oriented and safe ocean beaches.


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