Daytrip Destination: Monomoy Island
Monomoy is one of the great natural wonders of New England—a world apart from the rest of Cape Cod, or any place else for that matter. The island (recently a peninsula until the “Southway” inlet re-opened in 2013) is part of the 7,604-acre National Wildlife Refuge, and an important stopover for many migratory birds.
Surrounded by shallow Bahamas-clear sand flats on its western side, it’s an otherworldly place to visit by boat, as long as you respect the tide. Many a careless mariner has anchored here, only to find himself, and perhaps his family, high and dry for the entire afternoon. Study your charts and tide tables, and make sure you have a GPS in case the fog rolls in, as it often does here, being so close to the chilly open Atlantic.
Once anchored, break out the kayaks or a dinghy and explore the wonderland of flats and channels. The crystalline water teems with crabs and baitfish, as well as predators such as striped bass and bluefish. And you’ll likely see a seal or 2 (or 10) cruising the shallows.
Boaters are welcome to picnic on the exposed sand flats and beach edges, but note that the interior of the island is off-limits through much of the season to protect nesting shorebirds.
Nearby launch ramps to western Monomoy include the Oyster River ramp in Chatham (best for smaller vessels and kayaks) and the Saquatucket Harbor ramp in Harwich. The former is free, although parking can be limited, while the latter has an $8 launch/parking fee.