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Cape Cod

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Cape Cod

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Cape Cod [2] is an arm-shaped peninsula located on the Easternmost portion of Massachusetts. It is a well-traveled tourist and vacation area, featuring miles and miles of beaches, natural attractions, historic sites, art galleries and many four star restaurants. The area is also very popular amongst antique enthusiasts and people who enjoy bed and breakfasts. Many opportunities exist here for golf, fishing and other outdoor activities. The town of Provincetown, at the very tip of the peninsula, is the site of the first landing of the Pilgrims.


Cape Cod can be further sub-divided into the following regions:

  • Massachusetts Military Reservation, which includes Otis Air Force Base and Camp Edwards spreads over portions of the towns of Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, and Mashpee.


Cape Cod is made up of diverse towns and many villages:

Upper Cape

  • Bourne (Includes the villages of Buzzards Bay, Sagamore, Sagamore Beach, Bournedale, Pocasset, Cataumet, and Monument Beach.) Features the Cape Cod Canal.
  • Sandwich (Includes the villages of East Sandwich and Forestdale.) Many, many antique shops and much else.
  • Falmouth (Includes the villages of East Falmouth, Hatchville, Teaticket, Waquoit, North Falmouth, Silver Beach, West Falmouth and Woods Hole.) A harbor town with great beaches and great fishing.
  • Mashpee (Includes the village of New Seabury.)
Cape Cod Town Locations

Mid Cape

  • Barnstable (Includes the villages of Hyannis, Centerville, Osterville, Marstons Mills, Cotuit, Barnstable Village, and West Barnstable) (Hamlets (Sub-Villages) include: Craigville, Cummaquid, HyannisPort, and West Hyannisport). The commercial and transportation center.
  • Dennis (Includes the villages of Dennisport, East Dennis, South Dennis, and West Dennis.)
  • Yarmouth (Includes the villages of Bass River, South Yarmouth, West Yarmouth and Yarmouthport.)

Lower Cape

  • Harwich (Includes the villages of Harwichport, South Harwich, and West Harwich.)
  • Brewster - Historical home of many sea captains.
  • Chatham (Includes the villages of North Chatham, South Chatham and West Chatham.) A unique setting with harbors, barrier islands, seals, and a walkable center.
  • Orleans (Includes the villages of East Orleans and South Orleans.) A charming town of shops and beautiful scenery.
  • Four Day Summer Family Trip in Lower Cape Cod offers a detailed itinerary for traveling through the Lower Cape with children.

Outer Cape

  • Eastham (Includes the village of North Eastham.) Gateway to the Cape Cod National Seashore.
  • Wellfleet (Includes the villages of South Wellfleet.) A beautiful harbor town with diverse and protected Cape habitats.
  • Truro (Includes the village of North Truro.) Dramatic cliff dunes and Cape Cod Light.
  • Provincetown - A "must see" destination for its art scene, shopping and beautiful beaches.


Cape Cod is truly a unique place. Even the weather seems to have a distinct feel. In the summer, cool mornings of mists tasting of salt turn into warm beach days. The cape extends from the main eastern coast of the United States, where temperatures tend to be warmer compared to other New England regions. This is because it lies closer to the Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current flowing from the Gulf of Mexico to the Maritime Provinces of Canada. The warmer temperatures provide a longer season for tourist activities like golf and fresh water fishing. On the other hand, coastal storms can be brutal, battering the exposed peninsula with high winds, thundering ocean waves and, in winter, two or three feet of snow in a Nor'easter. That is how Cape Cod was, and is, shaped.

Similarly, Cape Cod's people have been shaped by waves of population growth. English colonists, Portuguese fishermen, beatniks and artists and retirees have each constituted a wave that broke over the Cape's population and made it stronger and more diverse. Every year the strongest wave of all washes over Cape Cod for three months and then ebbs out again: tourists. The wave brings nearly a tripling of the population. Seasonal businesses open and fill starting in April. Year round haunts slowly come alive. On July 4th weekend the Cape Cod party is in full swing until Labor Day. Then the tide washes out slowly as the cool air arrives. The locals breathe a sigh of relief. Beautiful Cape Cod is theirs again. Mostly.

If you don't need to swim or lie on the beach, the shoulder seasons of late spring and early fall are an excellent time to visit. Both times have their unique charms, lower prices and considerably more peace. The commercial, busy Cape Cod gives way to its simple, relaxed and charming self. If you demand no more than peace, solitude, and quiet (say to paint or write), even a winter on Cape Cod could be just what you need.

Get in

By car

The Cape Cod Canal is about an hour and a quarter from both Boston and Providence. Traffic on the two vehicle bridges over the canal is often backed up during peak travel times on summer weekends.

  • Use SmarTraveler® to see traffic conditions: [3].
  • From Boston take I-93 south to Route 3 south to the Sagamore Bridge (Becomes Rt. 6).
  • From Providence or points south take I-95 north to I-195 to Route 25 south to the Bourne Bridge (I-495 also becomes Route 25). At the rotary (traffic circle) on the Cape side there is access to:
  • Rt. 28 toward Monument Beach, Mashpee and Falmouth and other south side points.
  • or go almost all the way around and travel along the Canal to Route 6.

By bus

  • Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway, 17 Elm Av., Hyannis, Phone: +1 508-771-6191, [4]. Hourly departures from Boston (South Station Bus Terminal, Park Square, and Logan Airport) to Sagamore, Barnstable (Rt. 132) and Hyannis, a few trips also serve the Lower and Outer Cape. $19 one way / $34 round trip for South Station and Park Square, $25 one way / $45 round trip for the Airport. A few things to note about P&B:
  • During the early morning and mid afternoon hours some departures run express to or from Logan skipping the downtown stops. Additionally, the first bus of the day also runs directly to Logan as South Station is closed at that time.
  • Park Square service is commuter oriented and only operates in the peak direction during rush hour. There is no baggage or ticket service (carry-on only), buy on board from the driver if you need a ticket.
  • Bonanza/ Peter Pan Bus Lines, Toll free: +1 800-343-9999 or +1 888-751-8800, [5]. Service to Bourne, Falmouth, Barnstable and Hyannis from Providence (both the downtown bus terminal and T.F. Green Airport) and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.
  • Megabus, [6] seasonally serves Hyannis from New York City from with two trips a day Friday-Monday. Megabus picks up and drops off at the Hy-Line ferry docks, not the bus terminal, which is about a ten minute walk. Cabs are available at the ferry terminal if you need help with bags.

By train

The Cape Flyer Starting on Memorial Day weekend of 2013, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA), in collaboration with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), opened the first passenger rail service between South Station in Boston and Cape Cod since 1959. Service will continue through Labor Day, running in the evening on Fridays and during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. More info about the Cape Flyer can be found on the Cape Flyer Wikipedia page.

By plane

  • Most travelers would fly into Boston's Logan International Airport (BOS), [7], or Warwick, Rhode Island's T.F. Greene Airport (PVD), [8] near Providence.
  • Barnstable Municipal Airport (HYA) is a public airport located on Cape Cod, one mile (2 km) north of the central business district of Hyannis, in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States. This airport is publicly owned by Town of Barnstable. It is Cape Cod's major airport as well as an air hub for the Cape and the Islands (Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket). The airport is served by scheduled commercial flights as well as charters and general aviation. Air taxi and air charter companies such as Private Jet Charter [9] fly a variety of private charter aircraft and jets, from charter luxury Gulfstreams down to economical piston twins for small groups and individuals.

Regional affiliates of US Airways and United Airlines formerly served Hyannis, although today scheduled service is provided by two locally based airlines:

  • Cape Air, +1 800-352-0714, [10]. Regional airline serving Provincetown and Martha's Vineyard with service also to the off Cape cities of Boston, Providence (seasonal), and New Bedford. Their subsidiary Nantucket Airlines operates hourly service to Nantucket year round.
  • Island Airlines also operates frequent service from Hyannis-Nantucket.

Cape Air codeshares with JetBlue Airways, with connections at Logan.

  • Private jet charters are popular travel to Cape Cod. Air Charter service is available to Cape Cod through companies such as Aeroshares Charter, LLC [11] 800-961-JETS, Florida One Ways [12] 800-961-5387, Bermuda Charter [13] 603-610-8889 and Charter Auction [14] 877-499-5387.

Get around

By car

The easiest way to get around is by car. The main East-West routes around Cape Cod are:

  • Route 6, sometimes referred to as the Mid-Cape Highway roughly bisects the entire peninsula. Route 6 is a four lane limited access highway west of Dennis, drops down to two lanes from Harwich to Orleans, and is a two lane surface road from Eastham to Provincetown.
  • Route 6A, is a scenic road along the Cape Cod Bay (north) shore. Loaded with antique and artisan shops.
  • Route 28, a busy mostly two lane road through the southern part of Cape Cod.

These routes are supplemented by several busy North-South surface routes, usually linking an exit on the Mid-Cape Highway to Route 28 and 6A. Some of these that might be useful to tourists include include:

  • The Canal Access Road connects the Sagamore Bridge Plaza at Exit 1 and the Bourne Bridge Rotary. This is the most direct route to Falmouth and Woods Hole from Sandwich and the Upper Cape.
  • MA Route 130 (Forestdale Road), connects Exit 2 in Sandwich to Route 28 in Mashpee.
  • MA Route 132 (Iyannough Road) is a major thoroughfare running from Exit 6 to the Central Business District in Downtown Hyannis. This route is four lanes and divided for a good portion.
  • Willow Street connects Exit 7 in Yarmouth with the the CBD in Hyannis. This is an easier way to reach Hyannis if you're coming from the lower Cape.
  • Station Avenue connects Exit 8 in South Yarmouth with the Bass River and Smuggler's Beach business areas in Yarmouth and Dennis.
  • MA Route 137 in Harwich (Exit 11) is the easiest way to reach Chatham from the Mid-Cape.

=By taxi

Taxis are plentiful on Cape Cod, albeit very expensive, fares of $20-$30 for trips even within the same town are not uncommon. Also, apart for a handful of locations with taxistands such as the airport and ferry terminals, you will need to call ahead for your cab. While most companies prefer you call a few hours in advance, outside peak times (such as last call in downtown Hyannis), they can usually have a car to your location in 20 minutes or less.

  • Town Taxi (Hyannis/ Barnstable area) +1 508-771-5555
  • Falmouth Taxi +1 508-548-3100
  • Upper Cape Taxi (Mashpee, Falmouth, Bourne) +1 508-540-1290
  • John's Taxi (Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Brewster) +1 508-394-3209
  • Black & White Taxi (Provincetown) Provincetown's first late model, always clean vehicle taxi service +1 508-487-7800 [29]
  • Cape Cab (Outer Cape) Uses a flat fare within Provincetown and a time based fare to other towns. +1 508-487-2222 (Provincetown), +1 508-349-TAXI (Wellfleet), +1 508-430-TAXI (Chatham), +1 508-240-1500 (Orleans).

By bus

Public transit bus service is offered through the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (+1 800-352-7155, [15]) and Pylmouth and Brockton Street Railway.

Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority

CCRTA's bus system was known as "The Breeze" until a few years ago and some bus stop signs and publicity material still refer to it as this. You can reach every town on the peninsula with CCRTA, although bus routes primarily serve the main tourist areas (beaches, Route 28's "motel alley", the Cape Cod Mall, etc...). Reaching places that are more off the beaten path may require some creativity (for example, all buses feature free bike racks). The backbone of the CCRTA network is comprised of three long distance lines:

  • The Sealine (green on maps) runs from downtown Falmouth to the Hyannis Bus Terminal on Main Street
  • H2O (Hyannis to Orleans - blue on maps) as the name suggests runs from the Hyannis Bus Terminal to downtown Orleans.
  • The Flex (yellow on maps) covers the Outer Cape from Orleans to Provincetown. The Flex is unique in that passengers may board or disembark the bus up to half a mile off route for double the standard fare. Call at least 2 hours ahead to schedule an off route pickup.

CCRTA also has local bus routes:

  • The Villager which runs from the Hyannis Bus Terminal to the Courthouse in Barnstable Village, stopping at the Cape Cod Mall, the Community College, YMCA, and Barnstable Harbor (by request) along with many of the retail strip malls and supermarkets along the route.
  • Hyannis Area Trolley is a free service connecting Main Street, the ferry docks, Veterans Park Beach, the West End and Melody Tent. As parking fees at Barnstable Beaches are $15 a day for non residents, CCRTA advertises that you can combine this with their $6 park and ride at the bus terminal to hit the beach for less. Skip the bus terminal and park for free in the large parking lot on North Street, cut over to Main Street and grab the bus to the beach. It will stop anywhere on Main Street if you flag it down and its safe to do so.
  • WOOSH Trolley operates in Woods Hole, connecting the Steamship Authority docks to downtown Falmouth.
  • The Shuttle is a local route in Provincetown, primarily serving the beaches.

All routes have a flat cash fare of $2 per trip except when disembarking or boarding off-route on The Flex, when it is $4 and the Hyannis Trolley which is free. There are no free transfers (except between the Flex and the Provincetown Shuttle) - purchasing a day pass for $6 from the driver makes sense if you need to take more than one bus to get to your destination. You can also purchase a 20 ride punch card for $30 (20 rides for the price of 15). Drivers do not make change, and the bill acceptor on busses is painfully slow, so it helps to bring some quarters or dollar coins. Seniors (65+) and those with disabilities get half off with proof of age, a medicare card or a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Transit Access Pass.

In the summer, service is typically hourly on the three main routes, and every half hour on the local routes during the main part of the season (June to Labor Day). The Hyannis Trolley runs every 20 minutes during the day. Unlike local bus service on the two Islands, CCRTA does operate year round, although service in May, September and early October is reduced, and service the rest of the year is very sporadic with only a handful of buses each day.

Plymouth and Brockton

In addition to their off-Cape service to Boston and Logan Airport, Plymouth and Brockton also offers four round trips daily from Hyannis to Provincetown and several other lower and outer Cape towns during the summer. Round trip fare from the Hyannis Bus Terminal to P'Town is $18. After Labor Day, this is cut to two trips past Hyannis per day, and the timings of said trips are primarily geared towards down Cape residents heading to Logan Airport.

By train

Cape Cod Central Railroad offers a 2 1/2 hour scenic tour from Hyannis to the Cape Cod Canal, as well as evening dinner trains and family brunch trains on the weekends. Kids under 12 ride free on the 2:30pm narrated train. Scenic daily trips only operate during the summer and fall, but holiday trips for Thanksgiving and Christmas are available in the winter. +1 888-797-RAIL


Map of the Cape Cod National Seashore

As a major tourist destination, most every Cape Cod town has many sites of interest which are within the town pages. Some of the attractions of a regional nature are:

  • The Bass River is the longest all salt water river on the East Coast and nearly bisects Cape Cod. This Yarmouth and Dennis landmark is beautiful in its own right and has great spots for boating, kayaking, fishing and watersports. You can even take a narrated cruise [16]
  • Cape Cod National Seashore. These 43,608 acres (176.5 km²) includes six excellent swimming beaches, pristine dunes, dramatic cliffs, crystal clear freshwater "kettle ponds" and eleven self-guided nature trails. The National Park Service maintains several overlooks and ranger stations. Rangers conduct educational programs for all ages.
  • Cape Cod Baseball League [17]. The ten team Cape Cod Baseball League is one of the premier amateur baseball leagues in the US. It is totally free of charge for the fans and played throughout the summer in ten different Cape towns. About one out of every seven Major League Baseball players has played in the CCBL.
  • Cape Cod Central Railroad in Hyannis.
  • Cape Cod Melody Tent in Barnstable.
  • Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, specializing in Cape Cod artistry.
  • Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Brewster.
  • Cape Cod Lighthouses
  • Nobska Light, Woods Hole
  • Sandy Neck Light, Barnstable
  • Lewis Bay Light, Hyannis Harbor
  • Hardings & Chatham Light, Chatham
  • Nauset Light, Eastham
  • Cape Cod Light, Truro
  • Race Point, Wood End Light & Long Point Light, Provincetown
  • Historic Beech Tree, behind 599 / 605 Main Street, Hyannis (Almost to the end of the one-way Main Street on the left hand side just beyond the Mass Bay store). The Historic English Weeping Beech tree is a must-see for the historically interested or for those that just want to see a HUGE Weeping Beech. This tree has been featured in Cape Cod Life magazine (July, 2010) and its history is amazing! As legend and lore based on historic events have it, the tree was gifted to the town of Barnstable in 1776 by the British Governor of the area "to be planted in the center of commerce" (Hyannis) as a reward for loyalty to the Crown. It seems that the seeds of the Revolution were sown by a Barnstable patriot named James Otis - whose statue is on the grounds of the Barnstable Court House. Within a year, he was attacked by British Revenue Officers and sustained a major head wound. Whether this fear tactic worked or not is unknown, but Barnstable, in 1776, was the only town on Cape Cod that did not vote for independence from the Crown. When coming to see the Weeping Beech, visitors can relax with a cocktail in the Beech Tree Garden Court under the tree's sweeping canopy. With shops and restaurants close at hand, this is a "one-stop" destination.


  • Visit the many Art Galleries
  • Beaches Explore the beautiful beaches of Cape Cod.
  • Bicycling
  • Boating and Water Sports
  • All Cape Boat and Jet Ski Rentals (allcapeboatrentals), 145 School Street, Hyannis (South Street, just past the Steamship Authority, right on School Street, we are at the bottom of the hill at the docks.), 508-827-2001, [1]. open 7 days 8-5. All Cape Boat Rentals is located on picturesque Hyannis Harbor offering hourly, daily, weekly, and seasonal rentals of 16-25 foot Boston Whaler boats and Yamaha jet skis. $99+. (41.65122,-70.27603)
  • Parasail in Falmouth, Yarmouth, and Provincetown.
  • Camping - many towns.
  • Critter Cruises - Provincetown.
  • Fishing, both freshwater and saltwater.
  • Geocaching is a popular activity locally with many caches available.
  • Golf [18] More than 20 public golf courses.
  • Hiking
  • Seal Cruises - Chatham
  • Tennis - There are many tennis clubs scattered across Cape Cod. In Dennis, Mashantum Tennis and Sesuit Tennis are two clay court clubs worth visiting. The former, hidden in woods away from crowds, features fabulous red clay courts.
  • Theatre, Cape Cod has a large number of theatres -- one in nearly every town as well as a number of festivals including the Provincetown Fringe Festival and Eventide Arts Festival.
  • Whale Watching Excursions from Barnstable and Provincetown.


Colleges and Universities

  • Cape Cod Community College, ("4C's") in West Barnstable is one the Cape's two institutions of higher education. Those looking to study on Cape Cod will find the College as a friendly place to embark towards their goals, with associates degrees and certificate programs offered. For visitors, the summer semester offers a wide array of credit and non-credit opportunities excellent for those looking to get ahead in their studies elsewhere (credits are transferable) or for an enriching summer activity. Although financial aid is not available for visiting students, tuition is surprisingly affordable for MA residents, with tuition waivers available for senior citizens, veterans, and high school students who scored well on the state MCAS exam. [19]
  • Through agreements between 4C's Office of Advanced Studies and several Boston area colleges and universities, such as UMASS, Suffolk, Boston University, and Bridgewater State College, it's now possible to complete an entire bachelors degree and even some graduate programs without ever leaving the Cape. Programs in Business, Communications, Education, and Nursing are offered evenings during the academic year on the 4C's West Barnstable campus, and the degree awarded is from the partner institution. [20].
  • Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, Bourne is a maritime academy offering students programs in marine transportation, marine engineering, international maritime business, and emergency management.

The Arts

  • Cape Cod Conservatory, located in West Barnstable and Falmouth offers private and group instruction in music, along with classes in dance, drama, and visual art. Summer programs for children are available. [21]
  • Falmouth Artists Guild is a community organization running classes and workshops for children and adults year round in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and more, with a large selection of short summer classes. +1 508-540-3304 [22]
  • In addition to their full season of productions each year Harwich Junior Theatre also offers classes year-round in acting, musical theater, playwriting, improv, and theater tech for children and teens. [23]

Outdoor Activities

  • Golf: Many of the numerous town-owned and private courses around the Cape offer periodic clinics for golfers of all abilities as well as private and small group lessons with a pro. Of particular note, the Holly Ridge Golf Club in Sandwich offers a free clinic two Saturdays a month from May until September. No advanced registration is required, just show up at 8:30am the day you wish to attend, but you do need to bring your own clubs [24].
  • Sailing: Several Yacht clubs offer beginning sailing programs, although you may need to be a member or know somebody who is one. Sailing lessons for youth are also available through some town recreation departments, and are usually open to non-residents.
  • Town recreation departments also offer a range of outdoor programs and classes including swimming lessons.
  • The YMCA of Cape Cod and the Islands offers an array of summer camps and programs for all ages through their Camp Lyndon Facility. Visitors who belong to any Y in the US or Canada are eligible for discounted fees. [25]


As is commonplace for a New England area, seafood restaurants are a regular sight. There is no shortage of restaurants in the entire region, both seafood and not. Wellfleet is well known for its shellfish, particularly oysters. At one time oysters were actually shipped there and put in the harbor to get the "distinct flavor."


Cape Cod is home to many different types of places to grab a drink. There are all sorts of bars, pubs, restaurants with bars and so on. Nearly all are open in season (typically June-August), many are open for extended periods (April-October, for example) and fewer are open year round. In the off-season it would be wise to call ahead or go online before making a trip to one of the bars.

The drinking age in Massachusetts is 21 and ID's are rigorously checked on the Cape, especially during the summer tourist season. Bars, clubs and package stores tend to be very wary about serving to patrons with an out of state license or ID, some won't sell to you at all, and others limit non-Massachusetts ID's to certain states (usually New Hampshire and/or Rhode Island), restaurants and taverns are typically more lenient. Most establishments that do accept an out of state license will request a second form of ID, such as a passport or school ID. If you'll be in the area for awhile, one way to get around this problem is to obtain a Liquor ID from the Registry of Motor Vehicles. You do not need to be a resident, although a Massachusetts mailing address is required (could be that of a friend or relative), along with proof of age and signature. The cost is $25 and the card is valid for five years.


Cape Cod has a very large number of accommodations ranging from basic motels to plush spa resorts. Resort areas include Chatham, Hyannis and Provincetown. Note that many hotels are only open seasonally (April through October) and that prices can increase dramatically during the summer high season and during festivals. Cape Cod is also home to several campgrounds. One of those is the Bourne Scenic Park. The Bourne Scenic Park is a campground located directly under the Bourne Bridge on the canal. It is a popular site that permits both tent camping and trailers. It is also right next to the canal with easy access to the bike trail.

The area along Route 6A in North Truro, just south of the Provincetown line is, for connoisseurs, the real Cape. This is "roughing it indoors" - the accommodations are not fancy - usually just one room, perhaps no kitchen or no drywall wall surfaces, and not very modern. For some, this is the real Cape--all the stuff south of the "elbow" is civilization. You have to go to Wellfleet, Truro or P-town to get beyond it.

Hyannis, is perhaps the Hub of Cape Cod. On the Main Street and the Waterfront you'll find Hyannis Harbor, the Village Green, the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, the JFK Memorial Park, the Cape Cod Maritime Museum, waterfront restaurants, ferries to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.

Stay safe

  • Deer ticks carrying Lyme disease are a real concern, especially in warm weather. Stay out of dune grasses and brushy areas. If you get a ring-shaped rash and/or a flu-like ache, seek medical treatment. Nantucket has the highest incidence of Lyme disease.
  • Mosquitoes have become a concern in this area as there have been cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Use insect repellent when appropriate.
  • Poison ivy is widespread on Cape Cod and the Islands. The vines of shiny three-leaf clusters run along the ground or climb bushes and trees. Contact can cause intense skin irritations.
  • State law requires children under 13 to wear helmets while bicycling.
  • Boating Safety
  • All children 12 and under are required by law to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD (Personal Flotation Device) when on a boat.
  • All individuals over the age of 12 are required to have in their possession (aboard the boat) a USCG approved PFD or floating seat cushion. It is recommended that they are worn, but not required by law.
  • Anyone water-skiing, wakeboarding, rafting, or in any way being towed behind the boat must be wearing a PFD at all times, regardless of age.
  • Check the local weather and file a float plan with a friend before leaving the dock.
  • Check the local tides before leaving the dock as many places on the Cape cannot be accessed at specific times during the tidal cycle.
  • If you have any questions about local laws and regulations, contact the local Harbormaster:
  • Cape & Islands Harbormasters Association [26]

Get out

The Islands

Martha's Vineyard can be reached via ferries from several Cape Cod harbors:

  • The Island Queen operates out of Falmouth Harbor (not Woods Hole) every 90 minutes to Oak Bluffs from May - October. This is by far the quickest and most hassle-free route to the island if you aren't bringing a car - crossing time is 35 minutes dock-to-dock. $18 round trip, bicycles are $6 extra. No reservations required or accepted, although the company does recommend being at the dock 45 minutes prior to departure to ensure you receive a place on the boat. 75 Falmouth Heights Road, Falmouth +1 508-548-4800.
  • The Steamship Authority is the only ferry line that carries motor vehicles to the island, and offers hourly departures from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven year round, with additional departures to Oak Bluffs during the summer. Crossing time is about 45 minutes. Reservations are recommended for passengers, and mandatory for vehicles. Fares for vehicles vary depending on the time of year, and do not include the driver or passengers. 1 Cowdry Rd, Woods Hole and 65 South St, Hyannis , Passenger Reservations: +1 508-495-3278; Vehicle Reservations: +1 508-477-8600, [27].
  • The Pied Piper also operating out of Falmouth Harbor during the summer months, offers the only ferry service to Edgartown on the eastern end of the island. 278 Scranton Ave, Falmouth. [28]
  • Hy-Line Cruises operates a high speed, one hour ferry from the Ocean Street Dock in Hyannis to Oak Bluffs, as well as a two and one quarter hour traditional ferry during the summer months. Both options cost significantly more and take longer than departures from Falmouth and Woods Hole, but considering the time, gas and hassle you'll save driving to the departure point, it may be worth the added time expense. +1 508-778-2600, [29].

With one exception, all ferries to Nantucket depart from Hyannis.

  • The Steamship Authority carries vehicles and passengers to the island several times each day, year round, crossing time is around three hours. SSA also operates a one hour fast ferry from the Hyannis terminal, although cars are not carried on this route.
  • Hy-Line operates a year round high speed service to Nantucket on the M/V Grey Lady III, and a traditional three hour ferry during the summer.
  • Freedom Cruise Lines runs an 80 minute crossing from Harwichport to Nantucket from Memorial Day-Labor Day only. Although departures are somewhat limited and fares are higher than Hyannis, this option may be more convenient for those staying on the lower and outer Cape. Reservations are strongly recommended, as the company states that popular weekend sailings can be sold out several weeks in advance. Harwichport Harbor 720 Main Street (Route 28), Harwichport +1 508-432-8999.

Monomoy Island is actually two islands. The larger South island was inhabited with a lighthouse until a hurricane wiped the town out in the 1860's. Today, Monomoy is a national wildlife refuge.

  • The smaller North Island is open to the public during daylight hours and easily accessible. Hiking, fishing, birding, and enjoying the beauty of some of Cape Cod's most secluded and untouched beaches are all popular activities, although you can't hunt or camp overnight. You can either take your own boat, or sail with Rip Ryder in Chatham (+1 508-237-0420 or [30]) who offers several daily fishing and birding shuttles from June through September weather permitting ($20 round-trip). There's no mooring or dock on the island so be prepared to get your feet wet!
  • The more remote and larger South Monomoy, however, is a different story. While technically open to the public, access is limited. You will need a permit, and your own boat (or a charter). Having a guide recognized by the wildlife refuge service is highly recommended, as you stand a much better chance of obtaining a permit if one agrees to accompany you. National Geographic, NOAA, and some educational institutions (such as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) run expeditions to South Monomoy, and it may be worth seeing if you can join one of these groups as it will save a lot of the hassle involved with going on your own. For the 2011 season, Rip Ryder (see above) will reportedly also be running occasional tours to South Monomoy, including arranging the required guide. Call for dates and reservations.
  • Some other boat lines claim to run trips to Monomoy, it should be noted that none of them actually land at Monomoy - although do provide ample Seal watching opportunities near the shoreline.

The Mainland

Traffic is heavy on summer weekends. Try to get over the bridges before noon or after 7PM if leaving on Sunday during the summer. Use SmarTraveler® to see traffic conditions: [31].

Plymouth or Boston are good next stops.

This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!