Turn the Tide

For a nature lover, Cape Cod is a playground of 560 miles of coastline, 115 beaches, 365 freshwater ponds, miles of thickly-wooded as well as seaside hiking trails, and the spectacular 27,000-acre Cape Cod National Seashore. We’ll highlight just a few of the natural areas you can see on the Cape while on a road trip north to eclectic Provincetown, a historic tourism destination that has become very hip and fashionable.

Provincetown Cape CodStart out heading east to Chatham Lighthouse Beach, a wide stretch of sand where seals tend to congregate in the winter, and people tend to get sunburned in the summer. This highly walkable beach boasts soft sand and blue water, and of course the cherry on top is the historic Chatham Lighthouse, standing guard on the point above the beach. Check out the great views overlooking the beach and ocean from up there.

Next, time your visit with low tide to Rock Harbor, located at the “inner elbow” of the Cape. If the tide’s out, you can walk out almost a mile on the rippled, sandy bottom, with calm seawater swirling about up to your knees. Keep an eye out for little ocean critters trapped in the tide pools. The salty air, seabirds, and magnificent, clear water at your feet make for quite a moving Cape adventure that everyone should experience.

Town landcape in Cape CodJaunt east across the peninsula to Fort Hill Trail in Eastham, passing the Edward Penniman House, built in 1868 for the successful whaling captain and now converted into a museum. We promise you won’t miss the house, with its bright paint job and whale jaw bone gate. Continue onto the trail and you’ll soon be rewarded by sweeping views of Nauset Marsh. Traverse the perimeter of a rolling field reminiscent of an Irish sheep pasture, with low rock walls and gentle sea breezes cooling you off. The one mile loop trail is hard packed and gentle. Keep walking and you’ll find several small paths that lead to the marsh, a unique hiking experience that has you walking over seashells and crab claws on the trail, leftovers from the outgoing tide.
If you’re still thirsting for adventure, Provincetown beckons with the Pilgrim Monument, a 252-foot-tall observation tower and the tallest all-granite structure in the U.S. Stroll the eclectic and LGBT-friendly downtown, with narrow colonial streets that ooze local character. Grab a drink at the divey Old Colony Tap, with nautical trappings on the wall and a jukebox in the corner, and stroll the aisles of Marine Specialties Store, a local trove of salvage, military surplus, closeouts and spare parts. P-Town also has a great selection of seafood joints to round out your day and fill your belly. Catch the sunset at the endless dunes of Herring Cove beach, a prime spot to see the end of another perfect Cape Cod day.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as staff writer and photographer for RTX Traveler Magazine, based in Asheville, NC. His favorite RTX destinations are on the beach: Orange Beach, Alabama, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. .


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