October 3, 2018
Focus on Hyannis, Massachusetts
A visit to Hyannis can be a breeze, in more ways than one, thanks to a thriving harbor that accommodates vessels of all sizes and offers easy access to the history, culture, shopping, nightlife and sights and sounds of one of Cape Cod’s busiest ports.
Getting there is easy, too. The wide, deep channel between Nantucket Sound and Hyannis’ inner harbor is maintained to a depth of 13’ and can accommodate large yachts. If you’ve never been to Hyannis before, note that the busy channel is plied by ferries, tour boats and fishing vessels, so use caution, especially at night or in the fog.
If you wish to drop anchor, Lewis Bay offers good holding ground in depths of 4’ to 10’. The area behind Egg Island offers protection from the summer southwesterlies, but can be a popular spot. The island itself (actually a sandbar that vanishes as the tide rises) is a delightful place to enjoy a swim or picnic. You can also hop in a kayak or dinghy and explore nearby Uncle Roberts Cove on Great Island.
Home in the Harbor
If bound for the inner harbor, continue north past the replica lighthouse to port and you’ll see the sprawling docks and service buildings of Hyannis Marina to starboard, with the Steamship Authority docks and Dockside Marina straight ahead. A large, full-service facility, Hyannis Marina can accommodate yachts up to 200’ and offers fuel, transient slips, seasonal dockage, showers, WiFi, a pool, haul-out and repair. Onsite restaurants here include Tugboats and Trader Ed’s, and you can arrange for free dockage while you eat or enjoy a drink.
Another dock-and-dine option is Baxter’s Boat House, adjacent to the Steamship Authority terminal. Order lunch and a cold beverage to enjoy onboard or slide into a captain’s chair with a glass of wine on the outdoor deck. Built entirely over the water with wonderful harbor views, Baxter’s is one of the Cape’s oldest restaurants, and a popular destination for locals and visiting celebrities.
If you want to stroll around Hyannis, you can tie up at no charge for several hours at the town docks at Bismore Park, on the western side of the inner harbor, or the town-managed Gateway Marina at Aselton Park, in the harbor’s northwest corner. Contact the harbormaster on VHF channel 9 to check on availability. The harbormaster’s office and public restrooms are located in the white building with the red roof right behind the seawall at Bismore Park.
Once ashore, there’s much to see, do—and eat, as Hyannis Harbor is home to many restaurants and watering holes. Spanky’s Clam Shack and the Black Cat Harbor Shack are great spots for a casual lunch, while the Black Cat Tavern offers a fun, family atmosphere, an extensive dinner menu, and a hip bar with live music. For ice cream and other treats, visit the Ben & Jerry’s next to the Hy-Line ferry terminal.
A short walk toward South Street brings you to the Cape Cod Maritime Museum, where you can tour exhibits detailing 5 centuries of local maritime life, including a colonial-era mariner’s chart of Cape Cod, traditional Wampanoag fish-harvesting implements, exquisite model ships, and natural-history relics. You can also watch boatbuilders in action or sail back in time on the museum-built 1886 Crosby Catboat replica Sarah.
The harbor’s 2 parks—Bismore and Aselton—are the summer setting for the HyArt’s artists’ shanties featuring locally produced paintings, pottery, jewelry and other unique items available only on Cape Cod. And be sure to look left when you reach the lights at the intersection of Ocean and South Streets, toward the historic Hyannis Armory, site of John F. Kennedy’s presidential victory speech in November 1960. More JFK memories can be rekindled at the JFK Hyannis Museum on Main Street and at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park farther down Ocean Street.
Ever taken your boat to a baseball game? Within easy walking distance of the harbor is McKeon Field, home to the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Hyannis Harbor Hawks. The Cape League is considered the finest amateur summer baseball league in the country, with more than 250 alums on Major League rosters in 2012.
The still relatively new “Walkway to the Sea” means Hyannis’ bustling Main Street is now just a stone’s throw from the harbor. Main Street is filled with specialty shops, a miniature golf course, and a plethora of dining choices.
Whatever your desired choice of food or entertainment, it’s all within easy reach.