The first object most boaters notice as they approach Cohasset is the towering grey form of Minot’s Light. The iconic light, built of granite blocks between 1851 and 1860, rises majestically out of the sea 1/2-mile offshore between the South Shore towns of Scituate and Cohasset. It replaced an iron structure that was destroyed in an April gale in 1851, killing 2 lighthouse keepers. (A fascinating history of the lighthouse can be read here at New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide.)
The light stands as a warning, not just of Minot’s Ledge, but of the minefield of reefs and boulders that pepper the surrounding waters. Consider this quote, circa mid-1800s, by Capt. William H. Swift of the U.S. Corps of Topographical Engineers (precursor to the Army Corps of Engineers): “Minot’s Rocks… lie off the southeastern chop of Boston Bay. These rocks or ledges… have been the terror of mariners for many years; they have been, probably, the cause of a greater number of wrecks than any other ledges or reefs upon the coast.”
Once you make it through the gauntlet of rocks, Cohasset appears as a kind of idyllic Brigadoon. Massive homes dot the rugged coastline, some perched on rocky promontories such as Windmill Point, to starboard as you approach the channel to Cohasset Cove. To port is an expanse of shallow mud flats that closely border the narrow channel leading to the inner harbor. Pay close attention to the channel markers here, as it’s easy to let your mind wander and find yourself aground.
The docks and brown-shingled clubhouse of the Cohasset Yacht Club, established in 1894, appear to starboard as you enter the cove. Today the venerable club hosts annual sailing events and a fishing tournament, as well as adult and youth sailing programs.
Once past the Yacht Club, Cohasset Cove opens up, yet is crowded with private moorings. The Cohasset Harbor Marina, whose docks fringe the shore along a small finger cove behind Bassing Beach, offers occasional transient slips (call ahead). The town launch ramp is next to the marina, but you’ll need a sticker to park.
Two restaurants—the Old Salt House and Atlantica—are on the northwest side of the cove. Both have floating docks, but call ahead to see about docking for lunch or dinner.
A town landing and dinghy dock are located next to the restaurants. Contact the harbormaster for information on tie-up rules.
A short (1/2-mile) walk up Elm Street from the harbor will bring you to Cohasset’s downtown area—a quaint collection of shops, restaurants and businesses. If the area looks familiar, it might be because many scenes in the movie The Witches of Eastwick were filmed in Cohasset.
You can enjoy coffee and delicious pastries at the French Memories bakery, take tea at the Windsor Teas Shop & Tea Room, or grab lunch at the Red Lion Inn or Bia Bistro, which recently was honored with a “Best of Boston” award by Boston Magazine. Farther along, on Ripley Road, is the South Shore Art Center, which offers showings and exhibits throughout the year. If you’re looking to restock the grog locker, stop in at the Village Wine and Spirits.
Paddlers can explore a part of Cohasset that few visitors get to experience. The Gulf River is a tidal estuary that meets Cohasset Cove in a whitewater rapids at certain stages of the dropping tide. Kayakers and canoeists can put in at the town ramp and park along the street in select areas, but will have to wait until the right high tide level to access the river—and get back. Paddlers can also put in upstream where Gannet Road passes over a small tributary of the main river. Parking is available just up the road at a dirt pull-off. Experienced sea kayakers can head out to the ocean and explore the rocks and beaches of the coast if conditions allow. A great source of information on kayaking in and around Cohasset is the Wild Turkey Paddlers website.