Expect the unexpected in this historic seaside escape

We’ve all done it. Someone asks where on the Cape we live or visit, or maybe they want to know the location of our favorite not-quite-secret beach. So we teach a geography lesson by raising our left arm, with elbow bent at 90 degrees, wrist flexed and fingers curled into a small cup.

Inside that “cup” is Provincetown Harbor.

“Cape Cod spirals in on itself and that’s what creates this well-protected harbor,” says Provincetown Harbormaster Rex McKinsey. “It’s one of the things that the people on the Mayflower noticed right away—a big, deep, natural harbor.”

Flash forward 398 years later and the harbor is busier than ever. The whale watching boats are thriving, 200,000 people a year visit Provincetown by ferry, and an aquaculture industry is on the rise.

Commercial fishing is making a comeback, too, with a fleet of about 55 boats. “We hit bottom probably 10 years ago, and it has been building up ever since,” says McKinsey. The primary catches are lobster and sea scallop, but boats also bring in groundfish, bluefish, whiting and tuna.

You can take in the action from the 12 benches at the water’s edge at Provincetown Waterfront Memorial Park, but you’re better off strolling around to take in the action.