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One weekend in Wellfleet—a Cape Cod photo essay

Online only: Expanded story, plus more photos of Wellfleet!

Wellfleet Cape Cod photo essay

Like the menus in its many fine restaurants and the artistic creations on display in its galleries, the town of Wellfleet has so much to offer. From beaches, nature areas and bike trails, to the vast harbor and charming downtown, there’s a lot here to explore. This Outer Cape community has a fascinating history, with highlights including a 1620 visit by the Mayflower, countless shipwrecks and rescues along the coast and an island community that no longer exists. The town is also famous for two star attractions: the savory oysters harvested from its waters and The Wellfleet Drive-in Theatre, an iconic recreation spot on Route 6. For two days in September, photographer Charles Sternaimolo and I explored the town, chatting with residents and tourists, artists and fishermen, and everyone in between. We hope you enjoy this photo essay on the town of Wellfleet.

The first sight that caught our eye in town was the cacophony of color that is Seaberry Surf. The Route 6 shop sells fun gear for the beach, from inflatable rafts and fishing nets to boogie boards and blankets. Many of the products are on display in front of the store—and on the roof. The shop also sells a large collection of wooden whirligigs, which were buzzing in the breeze; there’s a chicken pecking at corn, a whale’s spout going up and down and, best of all, Uncle Sam milking a cow named “Taxpayer.” The staff spends three hours each morning setting everything up—but the results pay off. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of people that stop and take pictures,” says Jim Baptist, who manages the store with his wife, Lori.

Baptist was very complimentary about his community. “Wellfleet is a great town,” he says, “and it hasn’t changed much in 30 years. A lot of tourists say they keep coming back because it’s not built up . . . It brings back a lot of memories from their childhood.” Baptist praised President Kennedy and others who were involved in establishing the Cape Cod National Seashore, and wondered what the Outer Cape would look like otherwise.

At Marconi Beach, we met Rick and Lisa Lamothe, who were walking their dogs, Lucy and Zoey. Rick says his family has been visiting the Atlantic-facing beach since he was a kid—and the couple traveled all the way from Northboro just to spend a few hours there. “It’s great that we have the [Cape Cod National] Seashore because so much of the Cape is getting built up,” Rick says, adding that he enjoys Marconi’s dunes and the area’s nice, easy trails. “You can just cruise along.” Named for Guglielmo Marconi, who in January of 1903 sent the first radio telegraph across the Atlantic, from Wellfleet to London—Marconi Beach is certainly a place to write home about. It’s a hotspot for surfing and beach walking—and pure relaxation. We noticed one group of visitors lounging on the beach in the lee of a massive piece of driftwood.

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