Eastham, with its vast town conservation areas including The Cape Cod National Seashore Park and the Massachusetts Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary, has some of the best, most diverse, and most accessible nature spots in the East. Eastham has it all, including wooded trails, salt marshes, open ocean, protected bays and fresh water ponds. Sunsets that defy description, but will be kept in your heart forever, can be enjoyed from any of our beautiful bay beaches.
When the colonists divided the Cape into towns, they drew a straight line across the peninsula from a boat. Eastham enjoys beaches both on the open Atlantic and on the bay side. The two compliment one another: the ocean side beaches offer waves, surfing, seals, and sand dunes while the bay side offers warm water, tidal flats, crabs and sand dollars, and even a shipwreck at low tide.For daily summer use, there is not one beach sticker that covers both the ocean side and the bay side due to operations split between the Town of Eastham and the National Parks Service. Visitors might prioritize activities and remember that passes are not required after 4 PM at the town bay side and pond beaches, after 5 PM at the ocean side beaches of Coast Guard and Nauset Light Beach. The sun rises on the ocean and sets over the bay.
The bay side beaches are managed by the Town of Eastham. The bay beaches and town landings require parking fees from late June until beginning of September, between 9 AM-4 PM. An Eastham beach sticker offers access to eight bay beaches, two freshwater pond beaches, and one boat launch onto Nauset Marsh. Visitor sticker prices include a one week visitor beach sticker for $65.00, a two week visitor beach sticker for $100.00, and a seasonal beach pass for $180.00. Several of our beaches welcome daily visitors without stickers. The gate attendant collects $15 a day Monday through Friday; Saturday & Sunday the parking fee is $18 a day.
The ocean beaches are managed by the Cape Cod National Seashore—a park of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. The ocean beaches require beach stickers on Saturday & Sundays between Late May through late June. Daily passes are required through Labor Day, between 9am-5pm. After Labor Day, the seashore reverts to weekend fees through September. Daily vehicle costs $15 and the Cape Cod National Seashore season pass costs $45. National Seashore, encompasses multiple towns. During the summer Nauset Light Beach parking lot and the Coast Guard Beach shuttle parking lot tend to fill between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm. Questions? Visit their website or call the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitor Center at Salt Pond 508-255-3421.
The Recreation Department offers many programs year-round. Summer visitors may participate in the swimming program (from Pre-School beginners to Senor Life Saving courses), special day events, and the multi-sport clinics including tennis, golf, basketball, and condtioning. Summer Programs are July to mid-August. Registrations beings end of June. Please contact the Rec. Office to see what is available for our summer visitors: 508-240-5974.
Photos courtesy of the Cape Cod National Seashore and Joe Realbuto
The marshes and open waters surrounding Eastham provides some of the best kayaking and canoeing on the Cape and the East Coast. The preserved areas allow for complete escape and intimate exposure to the incredible wildlife that inhabits Cape Cod.
Photo courtesy of Marcia Duggan
Eastham boasts two bike paths and several walking trails that travel through remarkably picturesque scenery. Both bike paths are paved and provide an opportunity for bicyclists and hikers to enjoy a very special encounter with Cape Cod's charm and beauty. Within and around the trails are heavily wooded forests, lakes and quiet kettle ponds, salt marshes, bogs, winding creeks and sandy beaches.
The Cape Cod Rail Trail ("the Bike Path") is a twenty-four mile path that starts on Route 134 in Dennis and ends at LeCount Hollow in Wellfleet, having traveled the entire length of Eastham. The trail follows the old Penn Central Railway tracks. Today the tracks are gone, but the convenience to all of Eastham is easily accessible. Just off the path, side trips offer ocean beaches and fishing piers, country stores and quaint villages, parks, picnic areas, and places to lodge and dine.
Nauset Bike Trail starts at the National Seashore's Visitor Center and ends only 1.6 miles later at Coast Guard Beach. Magnificent vistas of the salt marsh and the great Atlantic Ocean are not to be missed. This trail is wheelchair accessible, and can be shortened by starting at the Doane Rock picnic area.
Photo courtesy of Doreen Cahill and The Department of Environmental Management
Nauset Marsh Trail is a half-mile loop that skirts Salt Pond and Nauset Marsh and returns through transitional forest and fields. The area is well suited for studies of salt marsh ecosystems and upland succession. It also offers excellent bird watching opportunities.
The Lady Slipper Trail in the Wiley Park Conservation Area is a walking trail through the woods on Great Pond and Bridge Pond. There is also a beach at Wiley Park with parking and restroom facilities.
Red Maple Swamp Trail with its serpentine boardwalk gives yet another dimension to Cape Cod that is totally unexpected compared to the Outer Cape's general landscape. This quarter mile walk is most colorful in the fall. A portion of this trail is wheelchair accessible via Hemenway Landing.
Fort Hill Trail is a one and one-half mile trail with some log steps on slopes. This walking trail offers spectacular view of Nauset Marsh, the Nauset Spit and the Atlantic Ocean. Bring your binoculars for some wonderful birding opportunities.
This area is home to a rich variety of habitats surrounding three small ponds, boasting some unusual tree species. Park on the trailhead on Peach Orchard Lane. Abutting the SECA is Upper Boat Meadow, which has magnificent walking trails and woodlands. Parking and access are available at the trailhead on Smith Lane as well as the bike path on Rock Harbor Road.
25 acres of Conservation land that has walking trails along Bridge Pond, Great Pond, as well as Widow Harding Pond. This is where Eastham's Herring Run flows into Bridge Pond and on to Great Pond. It is located on Herringbrook Road, with parking at the Cole Road Herring Run.
Cottontail Acres is more of Eastham's conservation land with hiking trails trough the meadows peppered with wildflowers along Herring and Jemina Ponds. Enter at Samoset Road.
Cedar Banks Trail is a one and one-half mile hiking path that connects to the Nauset Marsh Trail and continues on to Coast Guard Beach.
Buttonbush Trail is a short quarter mile multi-sensory loop designed for the blind with a rope guide, and interpretive text panels in Braille and large lettering.
The Massachusetts Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary in Eastham and Wellfleet has five very unique walking trails, all starting at their Nature Center and cross through forests, meadows, and marshes, including a boardwalk out to Cape Cod Bay.
Scenic Overlooks can be found at several points, but can best be enjoyed from Fort Hill, Salt Pond Visitor Center, Skiff Hill Pavilion, and Nauset Light Beach.
Photos courtesy of The Cape Cod National Seashore and Joe Realbuto
The flats and rips around Rock Harbor, Wellfleet Harbor, Chatham Harbor and the Monomoy Islands offer some of the best and most challenging salt water fishing in the world. A Massachusetts Salt Water Fishing License is now required. Saltwater Fishing License available only via the internet from Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game.
To really get the best Cape Cod fishing, you may want to take advantage of a fishing charter that will help you plan the best trip, explain the fish you'll catch and point out other wildlife along the way and no extra license needed.
Fresh water fishing requires a Massachusetts Fishing License for all 15 year olds and up. Eastham also offers fresh water fishing in one of its many kettle ponds throughout the area. The Eastham ponds include:
Shellfishing is a classic activity on the Outer Cape. For an introduction to this favorite pastime, Salt Pond is available on Sundays throughout the year and is stocked with quahogs, littlenecks and steamers -- oysters are also available in the fall. Bring your shellfish permit, rake, basket and sneakers and have some fun.
Permits are required and available at the Natural Resources Department at 555 Old Orchard Road, Eastham.
Photo courtesy of Henry Lind and Joe Realbuto
Located on Nauset and Schoolhouse Roads, across from the Salt Pond Visitors Center, this museum is a one-room schoolhouse built in 1869. Exhibits depict the area's history and include a model schoolroom, farming and household implements, shipwreck treasures, old paper currency, information on the Life Saving Service, Native American artifacts, and a 13-foot jawbone from a 65-foot finback whale. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Open: July and August and holiday weekends. For Special Events visit their website.
Located on Route 6 next to the Post Office, the Swift-Daley House was built in 1741 by Joshua Knowles. Its bowed roof, wide board floors, deep kitchen fireplace and narrow stairways are typical of early houses built by ship's carpenters. The house is completely furnished; its collections include examples of period furniture, clothing, china, and quilts. The Swift-Daley House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Set behind the Swift-Daley House are The Chester Ranlett Tool Museum and The Olde Shop. The Tool Museum displays hundreds of tools and implements from the area, including a wooden crankshaft from the old saltworks, a foot-operated grindstone, cranberry sorters and doorposts from the First Eastham Meeting House. The Olde Shop is a gift shop filled with fascinating treasures from antiques to hand-crafted items from local artisans. The Dill Beach Shack, which survived the storm of 1978 that ravaged the coast, is also on these grounds.
For specific hours,visit their website @ www.easthamhistorical.org Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
Located on Fort Hill Road, just 1/2 mile off Route 6. This historic house was built in the mid-nineteenth century by an affluent whaling captain. From Spring through Fall the Cape Cod National Seashore rangers offer Tours by reservations and host Open House hours that don't require advance reservations.
Located 2.8 miles from the Orleans rotary on Route 6 eastbound at the second traffic light. Along with a popular recreation of a Native American village, this museum and visitor center also features exhibits that elucidate the varied array of natural and cultural characteristics that are central to the history and nature of the Cape Cod region. There is a bookstore and a theater, showing four different short films on local history and the environment of the area.
Open All Year 9 - 4:30 pm daily, extended hours in the summer
Photos courtesy of The Eastham Historical Society and The Cape Cod National Seashore
Located within the Cape Cod National Seashore, Nauset Light is one of the most famous lighthouses on the east coast. Originally built in 1877, it was moved to Eastham from Chatham in 1923 to replace the remaining Three Sisters Light. The upper portion of the beacon was painted red in 1940, to distinguish it from Highland and Chatham Lights. Nauset Light was in danger of being lost to erosion and in 1993, the Coast Guard proposed decommissioning the light. The light was saved, however, by the Nauset Light Preservation Society, which financed a project to move the light farther inland. The move was finally completed in 1996. This working lighthouse is visible 17 miles out to sea. On Sundays during Spring, Summer, and Fall, and on Wednesdays in July & August, you can tour inside the lighthouse and climb to the top. For more information please visit www.nausetlight.org.
Located on the Town Green at Route 6 and Samoset Road (across from Town Hall), the Eastham Windmill was originally constructed by Thomas Paine in Plymouth in 1680. The structure was moved to Eastham in 1793, this windmill is the oldest working historical windmill on Cape Cod, and is still occasionally used to grind corn. In July & August the miller opens the windmill Monday - Saturdays 10 am - 5 pm, Sundays 1 pm - 5 pm.
Since the early years of the Pilgrims, the Outer Beach of Cape Cod was known as the notorious "graveyard of ships" In 1871, the United States Congress appropriated funds for 9 life saving stations along the outer shores. The Nauset Station was built in 1937 and currently stands overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, being used as an education center.
Located 1/2 mile from Nauset Light Beach on Cable Road. In 1837, a lighthouse station was established at Nauset Beach - halfway between the single light at Highland, and the twins at Chatham. To distinguish the Nauset Station, a keeper's house and three small towers of brick were constructed 150 feet apart. Two towers were taken out of service in 1911 and the third was replaced in 1923 with the "New Nauset Light". In 1975, the National Park Service purchased all of the Three Sisters Lights and conducted a $510,000 restoration that was completed on September 7, 1989. The Three Sisters now rest together and can be viewed with a short walk from Nauset Light Beach.
Photos courtesy of Helen Strong and The Cape Cod National Seashore
The HANDS ON THE ARTS festival is celebrating its 17th year. A FREE weekend long event produced by the Eastham Cultural Council, HANDS ON THE ARTS means a chance for adults and children to explore jewelry making, Japanese brush painting, fiber arts, printmaking and other art media, with professional artists. There will also be the ever popular found art sculpture. All activities and instruction will take place under the big tent on the Green.
Enjoy a variety of live entertainment including storytelling, puppetry, country, swing and jazz bands.
The juried arts and craft show and sale will showcase original works for sale by more than 50 local artists. Your support of these artists helps us to provide free activities, instruction and entertainment.
For more information and schedule updates or to send e-mail, log on to www.handsonthearts.org. Our automated phone number is 508-240-5915.
Eastham's Windmill Weekend is an annual community festival, a fair, and a family party all rolled into one and is held on the weekend following Labor Day.
Windmill Weekend is a series of events held on Windmill Green and other locations around town. Activities include a sand art competition, road races, band concerts, arts and craft show, tricycle race, and dancing. Continuous entertainment is held on the Green both Saturday and Sunday.
A highlight of the weekend is the public recognition, as Windmill Honorees, of one or more Eastham citizens, who have demonstrated unusual dedication to the town through volunteer activities. Excitement peaks with Sunday’s Parade developed around this year’s theme: Eastham Celebrates Eastham!
For info and updates: www.easthamwindmillweekend.org.
Tee off to help support the Eastham Chamber of Commerce Philanthropic and Scholarship Trust Fund. Get your foursome together or we can pair you up for a day on the links, and a great community event, followed by a complete Lobster and Prime Rib dinner, raffles, prizes, and awards. Every level of golfer qualifies.
For the non-golfer that’s community spirited you can also purchase tickets for just the Dinner and Raffle.
For more info and registration: Eastham Golf Tournament.
All kinds of turnip fun!
Sponsored by the Gift Barn & the Eastham Chamber of Commerce, this free event draws hundreds of children every year to help kick off the holiday season. This festive day includes a visit with Santa at the Gift Barn 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Tell him about your Christmas list and get some free goodies! Then ride the free trolley to the Orleans-Eastham Elks Lodge to create holiday crafts, get your face painted, and enjoy entertainment. Refreshments, gifts, and more.
To brighten the spirits of those less fortunate, we ask of those who wish to help, to bring a new unwrapped toy of any value to the Elks Lodge. For more information on how to get involved in this event as a sponsor or participant, contact the Eastham Chamber [email protected]
Fine art paintings by local artists. Shows on the grounds of the historic Schoolhouse Museum, directly across the road from the National Seashore Visitor Center, Route 6 & Nauset Road, Eastham.
The 2015 fine art displays will be presented from 10 AM to 6 PM on the following dates:
May 23 & 24June 27 & 28
July 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, 31
August 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28Sept 3, 4, 5
And September 12 & 13, the final show of the season is during Eastham Windmill Weekend on the front lawn of the Eastham Town Hall, 2500 State Highway, EasthamPhotos courtesy of Doreen Cahill, Captains Golf Course, Debi Boucher-Stetson, and the Eastham Painters Guild