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Melville Coast


Cape Cod

Melville Coast
Cape Cod
Whale Watching
Things To Do
Cape Cod's natural beaches are rivalled only by North Carolina's Outer Banks, and which has the best is a matter of continuing debate. Cape Cod possesses 560 miles of coastline, most of which is in beach, highlighted by one 40 consecutive mile stretch of pristine Atlantic Coast sand. North Carolina can boast that its waters are warmer, its Lighthouse Point waters are the best surfing location on the Atlantic Coast, and more of its beaches are easily accessible to the general public. Cape Cod does have a problem in that many of its beaches require a very expensive permit and many more are theoretically open but blocked off by private property between the beach and the nearest road. However, Cape Cod does have more spectacular dunes, more lifeguards, more concession stands, no problems with jellyfish, and more calm water beaches which favor families with small children. Of the 100 beaches on The Cape, we think those at Wellfleet are the best, part of the reason we like lodging there.
Cape Cod has evolved a policy of charging for beach access by levying a parking fee. Legal residents receive a free sticker with their car registration. Visitors pay $30 for a three day sticker, $60 a week, $100 for two weeks, or $200 for the Summer. Enforcement is ruthless. You WILL be towed without a sticker. This is one reason we recommend biking on The Cape. Bicycles are exempt from stickers. Water here will be colder than bayside in early June. The beach looks crowded, but a short walk to either side will bring you to stretches of sand that are almost empty. People do not haul chairs, umbrellas, and coolers too far. The surf here can be lively, but there is no undertow or treacherous side current. By midafternoon the cliffs begin casting a shadow over the beach.
Whether you are staying at Paine's, Duck Creek or the Stone Lion, it is a short bike ride out to Cahoon Hollow Beach on the oceanside. Shown above, Cahoon Hollow is a narrow beach below high cliffs with great surf. Up those steep walkways at the parking lot, there are restrooms and the famous Beachcomber Restaurant, making this the only beach on The Cape with a full service restaurant adjacent. Cahoon also has lifeguards This is one of the best surfing beaches on The Cape.
A mile down the coast is Le Count Hollow Beach, less crowded but still a beautiful place to spend the day. This is one mile from Paine's Campground, and four miles from The Stone Lion and Duck Creek. There are lifeguards and restrooms but no restaurant or concession stand. The big problem here and why it is less crowded is the lack of a staircase or path leading down from the road. You must navigate the fairly steep sandy slope both on the way down and on the way back up. Notice how few beach umbrellas and chairs you see in the photo at right. A few hardy souls lug them down and up, but not many. The sand here is usually very fine and white. Artists and photographers often rise early in the morning and come here to paint or photograph the sunrise over the ocean. Because of the restaurant and evening live music at The Beachcomber, Cahoon Hollow is considered the biggest party beach on The Cape, so people wanting to avoid that scene often come here for the same conditions without the revelry. From here you can often see whales spouting out at sea.
Marconi Beach is three miles from Paine's and six miles from The Stone Lion and Duck Creek, but it has lifeguards, restrooms and showers. It also offers an important historic site up on the plateau. This is where Gugleimo Marconi erected his towers and sent the first telegraph message across the ocean in xxxx. The beach itself is much like LeCount and Cahoon. There is no restaurant or concession, but there is a decent path leading down from the road. The sand is still fine, but is less white. Marconi Beach has taken quite a pounding from storms and the beach may appear quite different from year to year or even from one week to the next. The bottom may level out or steepen, the surf may increase or decrease, and the beach may widen or narrow. This is almost exactly halfway down the Cape, and the southernmost beach in the Wellfleet deed. Marconi is the least crowded of the Wellfleet ocean beaches, but has its small corps of devoted fans.
Mayo Beach is right in downtown Wellfleet. It is a beautiful place to spend a morning, an afternoon or an evening if you want to read, watch the sailing ships coming in and out of the harbor, work on your tan, or watch the beautiful sunsets. It is right off Commercial Street, and is free. The only problem is it's not a good swimming beach. At low tide, it's mostly sharp shells and mud. At high tide, the water comes up far enough that you can wade in on soft sand, and there's no surf, so it's good for families with little kids. You look out across the harbor at Indian Neck, the Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary on Lieutenant Island, and Great Island. It's a wonderful view, and you may be joined by artists and photographers trying to capture it. For little kids, there is also a playground, so when they tire of the water, they can swing or seesaw for a while. Good kayak launching point.
Duck Harbor Beach is Wellfleet's finest bayside beach. The waters of Cape Cod Bay, which are part of the larger Massachusetts Bay, are noticeably warmer and calmer than those of the Atlantic Ocean. The shells are more plentiful on this side, the sand is very fine, and there are no cliffs or steep trails. The beach, as you can see in the photo at left, is very wide so you can certainly find a little privacy. There is very little surf, merely a series of ripples. There is shelling here. You could hike this beach three miles north to the entrance to Parmet Harbor, or four miles south to the tip of Jeremy Point. Sitting here on your beach chair with a good pair of binoculars allows you to see an afternoon of sailing ships on the Bay, whalewatching ships from Provincetown, commercial fishing boats from Wellfleet and Truro, and on glass calm days kayakers paddling the bay. You may even see the occasional whale spouting or breaching out on the horizon. Thanks to five decades of efforts by the state and local communities, daily testing along here show this water to be absolutely pristine. Sunsets here are absolutely incredible (see below).
There are many other beaches on The Cape, of course. But we think those in Wellfleet are the best because of their services, the lack of crowds, the good surf on the oceanside, the warmer, gentler water on bayside, the lifeguards, and the lack of treacherous undertows and riptides. As you approach the point, those conditions deteriorate. Race Point and Herring Cove, for example, have dangerous sideways rip currents racing along, which is why the name Race Point. Further back down the Cape, you find some good beaches, but the crowds pick up tenfold. Furthermore, since we recommend staying in Wellfleet, either at a campground, an inn or a bed and breakfast, and since all but one of our favorite restaurants are in Wellfleet, we think the convenience of having our beaches only a bike ride or a walk away is a huge advantage.
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