This national park is home to Cape Cod’s most popular beach
“Cape Cod National Seashore has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country,” said one Google reviewer, while another praised its “excellent waves, awe-inspiring nature, seals, and quick access from bike trails. …and the sand is great for sandcastles!” Many tourists are fascinated by this 60-mile shoreline in Massachusetts, and so far it has been rated 4.8 stars on Google.
Massachusetts is called the Bay State because of its abundance of pristine coastlines like the famous Cape Cod, Buzzards fisherman’s paradise, and Quincy Bay which offers panoramic views of Boston. However, it’s Cape Cod that takes the cake – evident in its status as a national seashore.
CCNS is proud of its woods, ponds, and Atlantic waterfront, as well as the many landmarks that dot its shoreline. No wonder it was visited by over four million people in 2020, making it one of the most visited national parks that year. Besides tourism, it plays a key role in local conservation efforts. It has rave reviews online, and even before the internet age, it charmed famed essayist Henry David Thoreau. The lure of Cape Cod probably gave rise to his best review of the American author: “One man can stand there and put all of America behind him.”
Plan the visit
When visiting Massachusetts, exploring Cape Cod is a must because it has so much to offer those who want to get a sweat on or just want to spend a lazy day outdoors. The park is open year-round, but its peak season is June through September.
The Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and until 5 p.m. from May to October.
The Province Lands Visitor Center in Provincetown is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except November through April.
There is an entry fee of $25 for a vehicle, $20 for a motorcycle, and $15 for bicycles or walk-in guests.
Things to do
Cape Cod National Seashore is a great playground for all types of travelers. It offers a variety of activities, from indoor programs at visitor centers and educational experiences at the Highlands Center to ranger-led sessions for kids and kids at heart.
Thanks to the teeming ocean, estuaries, salt marshes, lakes and ponds in the park, waders will have satisfying times casting a line or just having fun. Its forest, moors, meadows and dunes, meanwhile, are perfect for hikers who don’t want to skip the day. Whatever tourists plan to do, this Massachusetts paradise has them covered.
If it’s not already obvious, the main attraction of Cape Cod National Seashore is the beach. Its long stretch of shoreline is one of the most beautiful in the region, so wherever tourists plan to stay, they enjoy exciting sunny moments.
In summer, the coastguard beach is the most popular, not only because of its ideal bathing conditions, but also because of its characteristics. These points of interest include the Great Beach, Nauset Marsh, where shorebirds abound, and Nauset Spit which leads tourists to a barrier beach. Depending on the season, tourists can also observe nesting plovers and terns, as well as seals.
Nauset Light Beach, meanwhile, is close to the Three Sisters Lighthouses and the historic French Cable Hut. Marconi Beach, on the other hand, has a vantage point where tourists can experience the Outer Cape, and Head of the Meadow beach is known for its shipwrecks that can be seen at low tide. Other beaches to explore include Race Point and Herring Cove, both frequented by shorebirds. Those who want a different type of beachcombing, i.e. all-terrain, are also welcome to play.
Hiking and biking
Those who want to sweat it out are in luck as the park offers trails where they can challenge themselves while taking in the ocean views. Cape Cod National Seashore has at least 11 hiking trails, all of which are scenic and inviting.
The mile-long Fort Hill Trail can be completed in an hour, taking hikers through open fields. For a loop hike, tourists should take the Nauset Marsh Trail, which will take them to a forest in just one hour. The Atlantic White Cedar Swamp and Beech Forest trails can also be completed in an hour. Fall is the best season to hike the Red Maple Swamp Trail, which can be explored in just 30 minutes. Buttonbush is easier though, as it can be finished in 15 minutes. Other trails for casual hikers include Pamet Area, Doane, Small’s Swamp and Pilgrim Spring – all can be completed in less than an hour. The longest trail is the Big Island, which will take three to five hours to conquer.
Cyclists will also be thrilled with three challenging trails: the 5.45-mile Province Lands loop, the two-mile Head of the Meadow (one way), and the shorter Nauset (3.2 miles return). Whether by bike or on foot, the seaside has the right paths.
Lodging, fishing and wildlife observation
There are accommodation options for those wishing to spend the night and immerse themselves in the natural wonders of the park. The four accommodations are perfect for fishermen or those who want to discover the fauna.
Fishermen will have fun catching fish by the seashore. Wildlife watchers, meanwhile, can take care of spotting meadow voles, white-footed mice, deer and bats. If they’re lucky, they might even spot the rarely seen Eastern Toads. If visitors keep their eyes peeled, they might spot Eastern Box Turtles or Eastern Hog-nosed Snakes.
The seaside is also frequented by 370 species of birds, an enticing prospect for ornithologists. During this time, beachgoers can spot purple swamp crabs or horseshoe crabs. Botany enthusiasts will also be delighted, as the rich ecosystem is home to many plant species like crowberry and seagrass, among others. Cape Cod National Seashore is teeming with wildlife just waiting to be seen.
Whether tourists want to visit lighthouses, historic sites, archaeological sites or natural wonders, Cape Cod will not disappoint.