July 30 – August 13 2021
We visited Cape Cod as a day trip two years ago while staying near Boston. We decided that the area was worth a longer stay and this year was the perfect time to return and explore some of the many attractions of this lovely spot of New England.
We found a wonderful RV campground https://atlanticoaks.com/ in Eastham, Massachusetts which is perfectly located only a 1/2 mile from the National Seashore visitors center and 20 miles from Provincetown. The famous Cape Cod Rail Trail bike path actually passes right behind the campground so we were very excited to bring along our ebikes and put them through their paces as we explored this beautiful peninsula.
Our first full day offered a cool sunny day perfect for bike riding and we took full advantage to explore the Cape Cod National Seashore via the many paved and tree lined paths. We meandered for over 3 hours along marshes and beaches and ended in the center of the quaint town of Orleans for much needed refreshments. This town has been a focal point for shopping as they offer a variety of goods from art galleries to the best cranberry scones I’ve sampled in a while, but I digress.
Every bike trail here leads to new opportunities and one such was a visit to Marconi Beach which has a memorial to the Marconi Wireless Station that operated here in the early 1900’s. Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian engineer who invented wireless communications. In 1903, the first transatlantic wireless communication originating in the United States was successfully transmitted from this Marconi station, a message from President Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. This is one of those places that is a must visit place when your husband is a retired electrical engineer and aging nerd.
Some bike trails required a bit of a drive to get to since the Cape Cod peninsula is quite long, it reminds me of the long drive through the Florida keys. We did just that to reach two amazing bike paths. The Shining Sea Bike Path runs from Falmouth to Woods Hole with amazing views. Woods Hole is home to the famous Oceanographic Institute and it has a very quaint town center with lovely shops and restaurants. We eagerly stopped at one of the many waterfront pubs for much needed refreshments and fuel after the long ride.
Another must do bike path is the Provincelands Bike trail. This loop trail at the very tip of the peninsula rolls along dunes, marshes, bogs and woodlands past some of the most notable beaches such as Herring Cove and Race Point. These paths are a bit more difficult as some parts are quite steep but here is where our ebikes shined so no problems. We also rode into Provincetown for a bit of a break by the breakwaters of the West End Tidal Flats which allows you to reach, during low tide, Long Point Island which is the very tip of Cape Cod. We didn’t make the 1 1/2 mile walk along the rocks but instead enjoyed the view half way, since we still had another 10 mile bike ride back to our car at this point.
Two years ago when we visited Provincetown we noticed the whale watching boats taking excited tourist to see these magnificent ocean creatures. I wanted to be on one of those trips then but we didn’t have the time as the trip takes at least 4 hours. So it was with relish that we booked and boarded the https://whalewatch.com for a 12:30 trip to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. This area is an 842 mile federally protected marine sanctuary between Cape Cod and the Boston Bay. If you look at the Cape Cod peninsula, it is in the shape of an arm with Provincetown being the fist. We sailed westward first and then north out from that fist for about 20 miles until we hit the sanctuary. The bank is about 100 feet deep surrounded by a natural wall that drops to depths of 600 feet. It is in this shallow areas that whales (mostly humpbacks) find a great feeding environment.
The tour operator “guaranteed” we would see whales but we took that with a grain of salt and hoped for the best. Poseidon must have been in a good mood that day because we had the best ocean conditions we could have hoped for, calm seas (it was like a lake out there) and warm weather even though a wind breaker, and in my case an extra long sleeve tee, was necessary when the boat was moving. On our sail out to the marine sanctuary, the ship’s marine biologist gave us a lecture on the sea life we would encounter and their feeding behavior. She predicted we would see mostly humpback whales as this area is rich in small Krill fish which is their main diet. They eat the krill by the ton load each single day using the bubble net technique, where a group of whales coordinate and begin exhaling to creat a rising circle of bubbles to disorient and corral the krill fish. We were able to see this live which was so exciting. We saw a pod of 5 humpback corralling krill fish with bubbles then fluking their fins out of the water for a showstopper performance right in front of our boat. Needless to say the oohs and aahs were abundant all over the boat. This trip was all it was advertised. Here is the tally of the marine life we saw. 30-40 seals, 100-150 Atlantic white sided dolphin, 3-4 minke whales and 5 humpback whales. A very good whale watching day indeed.
There are many day trips to choose from in Cape Cod and we decided to visit the towns of Sandwich and Hyannis which is easily done in a day. In Sandwhich we visited the Glass Museum. I just love glass art so this was a treat for me. The museum displays are a chronological representation of the various types of glassware manufactured by the Boston & Sandwhich Glass company from 1825 to 1888. They offer glass blowing demonstrations which were very entertaining and the unbelievable array of glassware is incredible. We spent a very enjoyable morning in the small but beautiful museum. From Sandwhich we headed to Hyannis, which is dubbed as Cape Cod’s “downtown”. We enjoyed walking, shopping and having a fabulous lunch break. We also visited the towns most famous landmark, the JFK Memorial and legacy trail which pays tribute to our late 35th president and is located over looking the harbor that still houses the Kennedy compound.
One of the highlights of this trip was having overnight guests visiting. We welcomed Virginia (Leo’s cousin) and her husband Peter for a 3 night stay in our RV. They were very excited to experience the RV lifestyle and we loved spending time with this fun and lovely couple. Leo spend all of 10 minutes going over the general layout and use of our RV and then we got down to drinks, BBQ and s’mores by special request from Virginia.
On their second day with us we headed out bright an early to Hyannis where we boarded the fast Ferry to Nantucket Island. We bought first class “Captains View” seats which were a bit more pricey but well worth it as they are bigger and more spacious than the “standard seating”, you are boarded first before the rest of the passengers and have a great view from the top of the ferry. The crossing took one hour and again we were blessed with calm, flat seas, blue skies and sun, couldn’t ask for a better sailing day.
I didn’t know much about Nantucket and had a mistaken idea that it would be a very rustic isolated island, at least as compared to Martha’s Vineyard which we visited on our first trip to Cape Cod a few years ago. Well nothing could be further from the truth, Nantucket is a lovely island with a beautiful cobblestone lined old town with cedar-shingled buildings, homes with manicured gardens and a variety of flowers just bursting with blooms, truly a delight to the eye. There are high end shops and restaurants and mansions along the sea, which you can see by walking along a public trail that cuts directly through the backyards of these gorgeous homes. You can access this trail and many others by using a bus that circumnavigates the island. We bought tickets and went to the furthest point of the island to walk along these sea side properties and enjoy the views. Here I have to say that these busses do not run continuously so you have to be very aware of the schedule or you could get stuck (as it happened to us) waiting a while for a bus to show up. We talked to some of the locals during our wait which was nice to get their views and recommendations. By then we were tired and hungry and were happy to see our bus arrive and take us back to town where we headed directly to a restaurant recommended to us by a native. I asked for a table with a view and I got one so all was good again. Our return ferry was ticketed for 6PM so we had plenty of time to shop and even enjoy a gelato after lunch.
There were so many great adventures during our two week stay in Cape Cod and I have just highlighted a few. We also had the opportunity to celebrate our 46th anniversary during our stay. Leo booked a fabulous Italian restaurant in Provincetown, with a view of course! From here we are headed to Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park, a state neither one of us has ever visited. New places and new adventures, it doesn’t get better.
I’ll leave you with a video of one of the 6 humpback whales we saw on our whale watching trip. Enjoy the video of this beautiful creature!