Falmouth Harbor, shown on charts as “Falmouth Inner Harbor,” is a largely manmade harbor created in 1907, when an inlet was cut in the barrier beach separating freshwater Deacons Pond from Nantucket Sound. The inlet was dredged and widened to become the somewhat rectangular shape that exists today.
Long, deep, and narrow, the harbor is a wonderfully protected spot in even the worst winds and seas, and makes a great stop for transients on their way up and down the coast or preparing for trips to Nantucket (27 nm), Martha’s Vineyard (5 nm) and Cuttyhunk (12 nm).
The harbor is home to MacDougall’s, one of the largest marinas in the state. Located near the harbor entrance, MacDougall’s welcomes large yachts and features a fuel dock and a full range of transient amenities. Across the harbor is Falmouth Marine, another full-service marina offering haulout, fuel and transient dockage. Farther north, next to the Falmouth Marine Park, is the Falmouth town marina, which was recently renovated and offers transient slips. Next to that is the town launch ramp and Pier 37, a valet rack-storage and outboard service facility that is very popular among fishermen.
Speaking of which, anglers of all types have long considered Falmouth a great jumping-off spot for trips to the productive inshore grounds of Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds, as well as longer forays to the offshore grounds south and east of the islands. The harbor boasts an excellent, free all-tide launch ramp with ample parking for trailer rigs. For those want to leave the fish-fiding and bait-cutting to someone else, Falmouth is home to a fleet of top-notch charter and party boats.
By the way, another great thing about Falmouth Harbor is its proximity to off-Cape locations. Falmouth is just 30 minutes up Rte. 28 from the Cape Cod Canal, so the traffic headaches associated with other Cape Cod ports are less of an issue.
Daytrippers and transients with dinghies can tie up at the town float, in the extreme northwest corner of the harbor. The float offers free tie-up for up to two hours for boats 25 feet and under. From here it’s an easy 10-minute walk to town, where you can find all sorts of stores, boutiques and restaurants. A West Marine outlet and a grocery and liquor stores are also nearby.
But you don’t have to leave the harbor to find sustenance. Close by are the Falmouth Raw Bar and the Flying Bridge restaurant, as well as the Falmouth Clam Shack, at the southern end of the harbor. Just follow the scent of fried food! On the west bank of the harbor are two more small marinas: North and East Marine.
Squeezed in between East and North Marine is the Island Queen ferry terminal. The Island Queen, along with two other small ferries in the harbor, make frequent trips to and from Martha’s Vineyard, making Falmouth Harbor a busy place, particularly on summer weekends. Watch out for other vessels when approaching and leaving the harbor, especially at night or in the fog.
It should be noted that Falmouth is a somewhat overlooked summer vacation spot that has much to offer. The beaches east of Falmouth Harbor are some of the finest on the Cape, and offer warmer, calmer water than what you’ll normally find on the Outer Cape. There are also some terrific B&Bs and inns worth checking out.