by Deirdre Frost
Exploring New England, we visited Cape Cod National Seashore with its amazing expanse of sandy beach, marshes, ponds, and uplands that changes continuously by wind and water moving along its shorelines. Formed by glaciers, these natural features are located in the Outer Cape that was once inhabited by Native people about 10,000 years ago. Historically, this was the initial destination of Pilgrims in 1620 who stayed briefly before sailing across Cape Cod Bay to Plymouth. Today, this land is rich with diverse species, along with other indigenous plants including wild cranberries, black huckleberries, and blueberries that are abundant on Cape Cod.
Attracted by the natural beauty, we set off to explore the biodiversity in the region. We are not just seeking beaches, but essentially searching for wildlife sightings in the Outer Cape.
We drive to Race Point Beach on the northernmost part of Cape Cod. There we find a remote beach with only a few solitary recreational vehicles parked in the sand. One vehicle is an old military surplus HMMWV that has been converted into a holiday home. We greet the owner and find he is ex-military, and prefers having his family stay right on the beach.
In the distance, we see a lifeguard station with a white shark sign to advise swimmers of danger. This gives us a feeling of being vulnerable, but at the same time, it evokes a feeling of being free in this protected sanctuary.
Another good omen is seeing the historic rescue station and museum known as the Old Harbor Lifesaving Station that seems reassuring in this isolated place.
Heading to Provincetown, we view the magnificent Pilgrim Monument on a bluff high above the town. Built in 1910, the monument is the tallest granite structure in the country that commemorates the history of the Mayflower Pilgrims.
Adjacent to this site is the Provincetown Museum that displays cultural and maritime history of the region. Before entering the museum, we take the challenge to climb the tower’s 161 steps to the top for amazing views of the coastal surroundings. Once below, we enjoy other splendid views while picnicking on the grounds.
Provincetown has a maze of streets that are home to a vibrant, diverse community with many restaurants, art galleries and music venues. The unique diversity of the area includes long-time residents and short-term visitors who enjoy coastal living along the water’s edge. An important part of the town is the local fishing industry that is still thriving. On the piers, we see the local fishermen unloading their trawlers of the catch of the day.
With high demand for sustainably harvested seafood, local fishermen have partnered with area’s chefs to supply local fish for preparing freshly-cooked dishes. This “pier to plate” practice provides diners with the freshest seafood available. When we dine at Provincetown’s Napi’s Restaurant, the wait staff ensures us that the lobster that is served has just been harvested,
Even the clams, scallops and oysters are locally sourced that attribute to the seafood’s freshness. Our entrees, especially the lobster, are enticing, while the key lime pie dessert is superb. We end this delightful meal with an evening stroll to view the nightlife on Commercial Street.
Exploring the town’s East and West Ends, we admire the Cape Cod cottages with their vivid, colorful gardens, and especially captivating are the lovely little birdhouses attached to the house frames.
Many of these cottages have idyllic names that reflect the charm of the Cape. This enclave enjoys the proximity to the town’s restaurants and shops without the need of a car.
But our search continues to find a more secluded beachfront setting in Provincetown. We find just the place at Harbor Hotel with fabulous views of Provincetown Bay and surrounding areas.
Particularly appealing is taking the hotel shuttle service as an alternative to driving into town. In choosing to stay close to the water, we enjoy water views from our room that are so soothing and relaxing. During the day, we take a swim in the outdoor pool and enjoy poolside refreshments before joining others around the fire pit for a quiet chat at night.
Harbor Hotel’s location along the waterfront is ideal for taking a leisurely walk towards the small rural community of Truro. The wild natural beauty and sandy cliffs of this small community are breathtaking as we wander pass these features on foot.
In the evening, we visit Truro again to explore the area by car. Tucked away, we view the partially restored lighthouse and a golf course before finding Captain’s Choice Restaurant.
The casual ambiance of dining outdoors attracts diners to this popular spot. The seafood is harvested by a local fisherman, who delivers daily to the restaurant, according to the owner, Kristi Wageman. Among the seafood entrees, we select fresh oysters and the grilled haddock that are exceptional. The al fresco dining and personable service further enhance the experience.
On the last day, our journey brings us to the Outer Cape’s quaint seaside town of Wellfleet. Driving along the country roads to the harbor, we see the fishermen bringing in their catch of fish and oysters that have been a tradition for over 340 years. From there, we drive along the coast to the Cape Cod National Seashore to visit the historic site of Marconi’s first wireless communication between Europe and America. Next to this site, we see the wide stretch of the Marconi Beach that is full of activity with swimmers and surfers.
As Wellfleet is known for oysters, we couldn’t leave the area without sampling this delicacy. One of the leading places to dine on wild oysters and other seafood is at the Moby Dick’s Restaurant.
In keeping with the tradition as a Cape Cod fish house, we place our order right from the kitchen and choose from a wide selection of fresh seafood, ranging from wild shellfish to all kinds of fish. Dining outdoors seems to enhance the experience of having wild oysters, cod, and swordfish dishes that have a delicious Cape Cod flavor and a tasty key lime pie. The owners, Todd and Mignon Barry, strongly believe in taking care of their staff and customers. For over 38 years, the family has delivered on making this restaurant an outstanding choice.
For further information:
Cape Cod National Seashore – https://www.nps.gov/caco/index.htm; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Race Point Ranger Station, Provincetown tel: (508) 487-2100
Wellfleet Ranger tel: (508) 771-2144
Provincetown Chamber of Commerce – https://ptownchamber.com/; e-mail: email@example.com; tel: (508) 487-3424
Harbor Hotel Provincetown – https://www.harborhotelptown.com/; tel: (508) 487-1711
Napi’s Restaurant Provincetown – Napisptown.com; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel: (508) 487-1145
Captain’s Choice Restaurant – captainschoicetruro.com; e-mail: email@example.com; tel: (508) 487-5800
Moby Dick’s Restaurant Wellfleet – www.mobys.com; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; (508) 349-9795