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 and narrow, with a MLW depth of 10’, the harbor is a wonderfully protected spot in 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 serviced by 5 marinas, the largest being MacDougalls’ Cape Cod Marine Service. Established in 1938, MacDougalls is the largest marina and service facility on Cape Cod, and can accommodate boats up to 150’ with a 12’ draft. It offers a 75-ton TravelLift, fuel dock, storage, canvas shop, engine and hull repair and transient dockage for large and small vessels.
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. Also on the west bank is the launch ramp, adjacent to 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 inshore grounds of Nantucket Sound and Vineyard Sound, as well as longer forays to the offshore grounds south and east of the islands. The harbor boasts an excellent all-tide launch ramp, and ample parking ($10) for trailer rigs. For those want to leave the driving to someone else, the harbor is home to a fleet of top-notch charterboats.
By the way, another great thing about Falmouth Harbor is its proximity to mainland. Unlike many other Cape launching spots, Falmouth is just 30 minutes up Rte. 28 from the Cape Cod Canal.
Daytrippers and transients with dinghies and tenders can tie up at the town float, located in the extreme northwest corner of the harbor. The float offers free tie-up for up to 2 hours for boats 25’ 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 walk to town to find sustenance. Closer to the harbor 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 and you’ll find it no problem.
On the west bank of the harbor are 2 other small marinas: the North and East Marinas, both owned by Peter Nicholas of Boston Scientific and both offering service and transient dockage. Nicholas also owns a large chunk of the waterfront next to the marinas, where he keeps a variety of large, expensive boats.
Squeezed in between the North and East Marinas is the Island Queen ferry terminal. The Island Queen, along with 2 other ferries in the harbor, make trips to and from Martha’s Vineyard. Be aware that Falmouth Harbor can be 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 also be noted that Falmouth is a rather overlooked summer vacation spot that has much to offer. The beaches east of Falmouth Harbor are some of the best 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.