August 11, 2020
Three By Sea: Harwich Port, Massachusetts
With three harbors to choose from, the Cape Cod village of Harwich Port presents visiting boaters with a wide range of fun things to see and do, both on and off the water. By Vivian Siempos Haidas; Photography by Tom Croke
With three harbors to choose from, the Cape Cod village of Harwich Port presents visiting boaters with a wide range of fun things to see and do, both on and off the water. The lovely village of Harwich Port—part of the larger Cape Cod town of Harwich—actually comprises three separate harbors. All connect immediately to Nantucket Sound, providing easy access to Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Chatham, and providing transient boaters with a trio of cozy havens from which to choose. First up for those approaching from the west is Allen Harbor, named for John Allen, who bought the surrounding land in the 1750’s.
The harbor is home to Allen Harbor Marine Service, a family-owned marina and boatyard founded in 1927 by Donald Dodge. The marina welcomes transient boaters with a fuel dock, slips with water and electric, pump-out, repair and more. Nearby is the Allen Harbor Yacht Club, which offers transient accommodations to members of reciprocating clubs. The harbor also has a public launch ramp with good all-tide access and parking for $8 per day.
Roughly a mile to the east is tiny Wychmere Harbor, once home to the popular Thompson’s Clam Bar, now a venue for weddings and other events as part of the exclusive Wychmere Beach Club. However, long before that, Wychmere was an enclosed kettle pond around which horses were raced in the mid-1800s, until the harbor was created in 1887 when workers dug a channel to the sea. Today, Wychmere is crowded with moored boats and served by Harwich Port Boat Yard, which offers a public fuel dock, but no transient accommodations.
The largest, busiest, and easternmost harbor in Harwich Port is Saquatucket, home to the Saquatucket Municipal Marina, the harbormaster’s headquarters and a large state-municipal boat launch with convenient access to Route 28. Transient slips are available throughout the season, and reservations can be made for stays of up to two weeks.
Saquatucket also features a popular restaurant called Brax Landing. Boaters can dock at the nearby marina, space permitting, for $20 while they enjoy the restaurant’s outdoor patio overlooking the harbor.
Also in Saquatucket is Monomoy Island Excursions. This 42-foot catamaran takes passengers for tours of the local waters, including Stage Harbor, Outermost Harbor and Monomoy Island for close encounters with seals and the occasional great white shark. For the young and young at heart, Cap’n Kids Fishing Adventures offers two-hour trips specifically designed for novice anglers.
Harwich Port is a great place for boaters, both transient or seasonal, because of its proximity to other destinations. Indeed, Nantucket Harbor is only about 20 nautical miles due south of Allen Harbor, making it a viable daytrip option. Chatham’s Stage Harbor and beautiful Monomoy Island are just five to six nautical miles east of Harwich Port, while Hyannis Harbor is some 10 nautical miles west of Allen Harbor.
Then there’s the fishing. Sport fishermen and charter captains alike appreciate Harwich Port’s quick access to the open waters of Nantucket Sound, as well as the striper-filled rips off Monomoy and the tuna grounds off the Outer Cape. Closer to shore, an artificial reef was created approximately two miles off Saquatucket using concrete salvaged from the demolition of the old Harwich High School. The reef serves as an oasis of life and shelter on an otherwise sandy bottom, and produces good catches of scup, sea bass, tautog, fluke and more.
Folks who wish to explore inland will find a delightful and charming downtown within walking distance of Wychmere and Allen Harbors. This small stretch of Route 28 is lined by local shops and restaurants catering to visitors of all ages. Whether you’re looking for antiques, coffee, jewelry, books, kites, clothing, beach toys, gifts, ice cream or a full meal, you can find it here. In summer, there are several cultural events to enjoy, including musical strolls and art exhibitions in the local park.
Venturing outside the village and into other parts of Harwich, you can watch a play at the Harwich Junior Theater, visit the Cape Cod Lavender Farm or catch a Cape Cod Baseball League game when the Harwich Mariners are in town. There are also golf courses and hiking trails on which to stretch your legs and enjoy the natural beauty of Cape Cod. No matter how you choose to spend your time in Harwich Port and its three lovely harbors, the vast array of things to do and see are sure to create memories that will last a lifetime—and keep you coming back.
Harwich Port Names & Numbers
HARBORMASTER (508) 430-7532
DOCKAGE, MOORINGS & SERVICE
ALLEN HARBOR MARINE SERVICE (508) 430-6008
Full-service boatyard and marina on Allen Harbor, offering transient slips, fuel, repairs and more.
SAQUATUCKET MUNICIPAL MARINA (508) 430-7532
Town-managed marina offering transient slips on floating docks, as well as a launch ramp and restrooms.
HARWICH PORT BOAT YARD (508) 432-1322
Small boatyard in Wychmere Harbor with fuel dock. No transient availability.
ALLEN HARBOR YACHT CLUB (508) 432-9774
Venerable yacht club offering transient accommodations and privileges to members of reciprocating clubs.
Allen Harbor and Saquatucket Harbor both feature public launch ramps, with the latter offering two lanes and a huge parking lot. A seasonal ramp permit can be purchased for $100 or a daily ramp permit can be purchased for $10 at the harbormaster’s office at Saquatucket.
WHERE TO EAT
BRAX LANDING (508) 432-5515
Venerable restaurant overlooking Saquatucket Harbor. Dockage available for $20 at the municipal marina.
CAPE SEA GRILLE (508) 432-4745
Creative, New American cuisine made with carefully sourced products and served in a restored 19th century house with porch seating.
EMBER (508) 430-0407
Coal-fired pizza, wings and more on Main Street.
PERKS COFFEE SHOP & BEER GARDEN (508) 432-2234
Great downtown spot for morning coffee and pastries. Outdoor seating.
Dr. GRAVITY’S KITE SHOP (508) 430-0437
Fun and funky Main Street shop selling kites, toys, puzzles, board games, novelties, flags, windsocks and beach products.
REED BOOKS (508) 432-5293
Wide selection of new and used titles.
SALTIVA (508) 430-4410
Variety of interesting gift, clothing and home items, as well as jewelry, fragrances, candles, pottery, soaps and more.
MONAHAN & CO. FINE JEWELERS (508) 432-3302
Family-owned jewelry store on Main Street, established in 1815. Look for the vintage car out front.
THINGS TO SEE & DO
CAPE COD LAVENDER FARM (508) 432-8397
Tour the lovely fields and see how products are made from these colorful flowers.
CAPE COD THEATER CO. (508) 432-2002
Long-running performing-arts space offering a lineup of family-oriented shows, plus drama classes.
CHATHAM CLASSIC YACHT CHARTERS (508) 432-8397
Sailing tours aboard the 1937 wooden schooner Tyrone out of Wychmere Harbor.
Catch a ballgame when the talented Harwich Mariners are in town.
MONOMOY ISLAND EXCURSIONS (508) 430-7772
Informative tours of the local harbors, plus seal-watching trips to Monomoy Island. Departs from Saquatucket Harbor.
CAP’N KIDS FISHING ADVENTURES (508) 430-0066
Kids and adults will have a blast fishing Nantucket Sound for scup, sea bass, flounder and other species aboard the 50-foot Cap’n Kid out of Saquatucket Harbor.