Monomoy is home to a huge seal colony. Photo Tom Richardson

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 cut re-opened in 2013) is part of the 7,604-acre National Wildlife Refuge, and an important stopover for many species of migratory birds.

Chart: Monomoy Island

Surrounded by shallow Bahamas-clear sand flats on its western (i.e., calmer) 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.

The launch ramp off Barn Hill Rd. is suitable for small boats.

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 two 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 Barn Hill Rd./Oyster River ramp in Chatham (best for smaller vessels and kayaks) and the Saquatucket Harbor ramp in Harwich. The former is open for use by non-residents with parking available along Barn Hill Road shoulder, while the latter has an $10 launch/parking fee and ample parking.

Kayaks, paddleboards, and powerboats can be rented at Chatham Kayak Company, next to the Barn Hill Rd. ramp in the Oyster River.

Lighthouse on Monomoy.
Monomoy’s western flats offer amazing sight fishing for stripers.