Many people visit Cape Cod because of its natural beauty. If you generally prefer to be outside, whether to hike, bike, or kayak, this itinerary is for you. You'll bike along the coastline, paddle through marshes, and watch seals and whales frolic offshore. This is the real Cape Cod, far from the traffic and T-shirt shops.
Day 1: A Bike Ride & a Sail
One of the Cape's best bike trails is the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth. Rent a set of wheels at Corner Cycle on the Queen's Byway and ride 4 miles on the beachfront path, all the way to Woods Hole. In Woods Hole, have lunch at an outdoor table at one of the fine restaurants. After exploring the village of Woods Hole, bike back to Falmouth. On the way, you can check out the osprey nest on Oyster Pond, near Surf Drive Beach. In the afternoon or early evening, take a 2-hour sailboat ride on the three-masted Liberte, a custom schooner. The sunset cruise is the most popular.
Day 2: Washburn Island in Falmouth
A 40-minute paddle by canoe or kayak will land you on Washburn Island, a state-owned sanctuary in Waquoit Bay containing nature trails and pristine beaches. There are 10 primitive campsites on the island, most located close to the beach. The island feels wonderfully isolated, though you are only a stone's throw from densely populated summer communities in Falmouth.
Day 3: Biking the Rail Trail
Biking the 25-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail from South Dennis to Wellfleet is a great way to take in the Cape's diverse ecosystems, past woods, dunes, ponds, marshes, and cranberry bogs. Most people bike just a section of the trail. The portion within Nickerson State Park in Brewster is a popular spur. You'll pass places to purchase snacks, drinks, and sandwiches along the way, so it's possible to make a day of it, stopping for a picnic at the halfway point.
Day 4: Kayaking Barnstable's Great Marsh
One of the best all-day kayak trips on the Cape is through Barnstable's Great Marsh and out to the tip of Sandy Neck. After launching in Barnstable Harbor, you can spend hours exploring the marsh, paddling deep up into Scorton Creek at high tide. Paddle out of the marsh before low tide, and then parallel the shore of Sandy Neck all the way out to the little summer colony on the tip. You can check out the lighthouse and picnic on the beach before paddling back to Barnstable Harbor.
Day 5: The Seals of Monomoy
Several companies run boat tours out to the island of South Monomoy, off the coast of Chatham, to view the enormous gray seal colony. Boats leave out of Stage Harbor. Both islands of North Monomoy and South Monomoy together make up a 2,750-acre wildlife sanctuary favored by migrating birds. Audubon runs bird-watching tours to the islands in season.
Day 6: Audubon Sanctuary in Wellfleet
You could spend all day (and the night if you're an Audubon member) exploring the trails at Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. The 1,000-acre refuge features a butterfly garden and numerous trails in addition to a visitor center whose design is on the cutting edge of environmentally friendly architecture.
Day 7: Watching Whales in Stellwagen Bank
Whale-watching is an activity the whole family can enjoy. It takes a couple of hours for the boat to get out to Stellwagen Bank, the prime fishing ground for whales in the area; once there you're bound to see several different types. The onboard naturalist will help you identify them.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.