Cruise Into Cohasset

A cursory glance at a chart of Cohasset Harbor, on the South Shore of Massachusetts, might lead one to question the sanity of any mariner who would go near the place. But boaters have, and do, and for good reason!

By Liza Carens Salerno • Photography by Tom Richardson & Benjamin Boynton

Discovered in 1614 by Captain John Smith, Cohasset’s name is derived from the Algonquin word for “long, rocky place”—an apt description for the gauntlet of granite hazards that lurk outside this cozy harbor just south of Boston. Yet despite its fearsome reputation, the harbor can be accessed through three well-marked channels leading from the open ocean. In fair weather there’s no problem, as long as you pay attention to your position and the chart plotter. Even better, Cohasset boaters now have more room to play with, as a dredging project in 2016 has increased the main channel depth to at least 8′ at mean low tide and the width to 90′.

The main channel begins off White Head, a rocky knoll that’s home to a Dutch Colonial mansion. From here it’s a straight shot to Bryant Point, which shelters the venerable Cohasset Yacht Club. Founded in 1894, the CYC maintains a strong racing fleet and offers transient accommodations and privileges to members of reciprocating clubs.

Cozy Cove

The stone breakwater opposite Bryant Point provides good protection for the boats tucked inside Cohasset Cove, where most of the town’s commercial and recreational moorings are located. Forming the southern shore of the cove is Bassings Beach, a long, narrow peninsula with an inviting sandbar at its tip. Time your visit properly and you can beach your boat, dinghy or kayak here and enjoy hours of relaxation on a beautiful swath of sand that disappears before anyone is ready to leave.

If you’re searching for a good dock-and-dine option, look no further than Atlantica, which offers panoramic views of the harbor and a long dock for boating customers. The focus is on fresh seafood provided by local fishermen, but the menu also includes beef and chicken entrees, as well as locally sourced produce. Next door, the Olde Salt House offers more casual fare, including burgers, a killer lobster roll and fried seafood platters.

Of course, Cohasset has other eateries worth checking out, and the inner harbor features several public floats where you can leave a dinghy or small skiff free of charge while you visit the local shops and restaurants or stretch your legs.

For a small-plate option, take a two-minute walk to Brisa at the Cohasset Harbor Inn, where hot and cold tapas, flatbreads and shared plates are served outside overlooking the harbor. Whichever you chose, soak up the waterside ambiance as you watch local fishermen unload a catch that might end up as a part of your meal. Or skip the restaurants altogether and buy some lobsters right off one of the boats.

Short Stroll to Town

If you feel like exploring, downtown Cohasset is an easy ten-minute stroll from the harbor, and includes distinctive shops and restaurants. Visit Darilynn’s Gifts &Home Accessories or Twist boutique for unique gift items. You’ll find fresh croissants and sandwiches at French Memories Café, some of the best bagels this side of New York at Atlantic Bagel, and large-plate breakfasts and sandwiches at 5 South Main. For dinner, enjoy Mediterranean cuisine at Bia Bistro while sitting on the brick deck or inside the petite storefront. Mr. Dooley’s Pub boasts an Irish theme, with burgers, salads and Celtic comfort foods. Top your meal off with a whoopie pie or specialty cupcake from Baked.

Continue your exploration as you walk down the street to historic Cohasset Common. Hollywood discovered this white-steepled landscape three decades ago, when The Witches of Eastwick was filmed here. Later, the town was featured in The Housesitter with Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin. More recently, some local buildings were covered in fake snow for the filming of Disney’s Coast Guard tribute, The Finest Hours.

To appreciate why directors and artists love the town, rent a bike from Outside In. Make a stop to see a display at the South Shore Art Center then pedal down Beach Street to Atlantic Avenue to Sandy Beach and on to Jerusalem Road for panoramic views of the Boston skyline. On your way back to the harbor, climb the driveway to the Cohasset Lightkeeper’s house, overlooking Government Island. Behind the building, a stairway leads to Beacon Rock. Take the quick climb up the granite monolith and gaze down on the sparkling harbor and the Gulf River, while taking in vistas of this long, rocky place you’ll want to visit time and again.

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  • Mark Younger

    Funny how they don’t mention why this town is really famous.