Who doesn’t love the view of the Cape Cod Canal? When driving over the bridges, I wish I could stop in the middle just to study the magnificent waterway curving gently around the hills between Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay. The approximate difference of three hours between high tide times in these two bays results in tidal currents through the canal stimulating to observe, but challenging to inexperienced navigators. Seeing sunset over the west end of the canal from the Bourne Bridge is the best.
In Woods Hole, the vantage point of Nobska Lighthouse is so encompassing. Facing south, Nantucket Sound runs to my left between the bluffs along the New Seabury Coast and four lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard’s north shore. The view looking south is all of Vineyard Sound separating Martha’s Vineyard from the Elizabeth Islands. On the high shore along Tarpaulin Cove on the island of Naushon stands one of the oldest lighthouses in North America. It was erected to direct sailing sea captains to the inn/tavern at Tarpaulin Cove long before there was any talk of the Cape Cod Canal. And, looking to my right from Nobska is the village of Woods Hole and Steamship Authority port for ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard.
On the Vineyard, my favorite view is of Menemsha. There is a foot path up the hill overlooking this classic, so-often-painted fishing village. However, from the high road leading toward Gay Head Lighthouse in Aquinnah, one can observe all of Menemsha Pond and its surroundings. The channel runs to the pond from the village and separates Menemsha Harbor from the beach in Lobsterville. Menemsha Pond is tidal and only for shallow draft vessels, the smallest of which can continue up into Nashaquitsa Pond. From here, Hariph’s Creek runs into Stonewall Pond. These fascinating, beautiful tidal waters flow from Vineyard Sound northwest of Menemsha to a narrow strip of land about one-eighth of a mile from open ocean south of the Vineyard.
On Nantucket, in the evening, I like to saunter to the end of the longest pier and look back over the Boat Basin to the outline of this Rockwellian harbor-front village alive with lights, music, diners, shoppers, and boaters.
In the middle of old Cape Cod, approximately seven miles apart are two views, one looking south to Nantucket Sound and the other looking north toward Cape Cod Bay. On the south side, I love the views from the highest hill in Hyannisport by the old stone church. With Nantucket Sound as a backdrop, a tidal inlet surrounds Squaw Island and a handsome golf course in the foreground. Seven miles due north lies Barnstable Harbor and Millway Beach facing toward Cape Cod Bay. Across the harbor on beautiful Sandy Neck Beach sit a few cottages in the shadow of an old lighthouse, much to the delight of many artists.
In the Lower Cape on the north side, my favorite view is of the extensive sand flats on Cape Cod Bay when the tide is out. Stretching from Eastham, in front of Rock Harbor in Orleans, across all of Brewster and portions of Dennis, low tide exposes many square miles of sand flats, much to the delight of young children—and the young at heart. At the elbow of the Cape, if you will, facing southeast, Chatham Lighthouse overlooks the harbor and its fish pier, the barrier beach and its storm breach, the open Atlantic, and the rest of the world.
Including almost all of the Atlantic-facing shore on the Outer Cape, from Eastham and Wellfleet to North Truro lies another of my favorite views: the beachside hills and sand cliffs. I like to slowly walk as close to the surf as possible, listen to the crashing and rushing waves, breathe in the ocean air, and totally mesmerized, let my mind’s eye wander ahead of me beneath the majestic cliffs of sand. One can see and feel Mother Nature at work.
Finally, what could be more appropriate than to view Provincetown Harbor, where the pilgrims first landed? And what better vantage point than atop the Pilgrim Monument? Bordered on three sides by Province Lands dunes and beaches, the village looks south over the harbor to all of Cape Cod Bay. On a clear day from the top of the Pilgrim monument, Judy, our boys Josh and Max, and I could see the shape of the Cape all the way around Cape Cod Bay to the east end of the Cape Cod Canal. Wow!