Friday, 24 July 2009

Coastal views from Cape Cod

[Byron Cain, my informative and enthusiastic correspondent in Brewster, runs the excellent Brewster by the Sea Inn and Spa with his wife Donna. He is also a talented photographer. He has written the following piece about Cape Cod’s beaches, which I have illustrated with some of his photos of Paines Creek in Brewster.]

Mention Cape Cod and everyone has a different image in their mind....sunbathing, whale watching, fishing, kayaking, fresh seafood, history, galleries. All are part of the ambiance and unpretentious charm that attracts so many people to Cape Cod. But one thing that defines Cape Cod in most people's minds is our beaches.

We have lived in Brewster for almost six years now and are continually amazed and awed at how unique and different each beach is on the Cape. Thankfully the national seashore was established in 1961 to help protect many of the beautiful beaches on the Atlantic side. Many of the smaller beaches are maintained by each of the Cape Cod towns. The National Seashore contains 44,000 acres along a 40 mile section of the coastline between Chatham and Provincetown.

The Cape is actually a glacial deposit that is continually undergoing changes as winds and water move sand along the shorelines, tearing away one place and building another. You can get a good sense of how quickly things are changing by looking at the diminishing beach at the Marconi Station Site in Wellfleet, where the peninsula is only a mile wide. Much of the high cliffs has eroded since Guglielmo Marconi first built his towers there in 1901. Changing too, though not so perceptibly is the Cape Cod Bay shoreline. Great Island in Wellfleet, where whalers used to congregate, can be explored via trails and one can walk out to the tip during low tide.It's hard to believe that houses use to exist many years ago on that thin peninsula.

So, the big question that we love to ask our guests is what is your favorite beach? We have many favorites! We love our Brewster flats which is just a short walk from our inn. Paines Creek is a photographer's haven at sunset when the last rays of the day cascade beautiful colors over the bay. We also enjoy Nauset Beach and have marveled at the dedicated surfers that continue their sport in the colder months. We love Marconi for the beautiful waves and love to collect stones on Coast Guard beach. We recently enjoyed a tour in Provincetown with Art's Dunes Tour. What a hoot... we were fortunate to have the owner Rich as our tour guide who added much history about the dune shacks and marveled at the natural beauty of the dunes.

During our last trip to visit Race Point Beach we picked up a newspaper outlining all of the summer activities coordinated by the National Seashore.The list was impressive and has different activities to appeal to all age groups.One can learn about snorkeling, tour the three sister lighthouses,learn about the history, take a guided walk on Nauset Marsh or join in on a campfire. All the activities are outlined on

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