More than 800 species of plants and animals (including more than 300 bird species) visit or make their home on this narrow finger of land between Broad Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The 4,700-acre refuge is a complex of barrier beaches, dunes, and salt marshes, one of the few remaining in the Northeast. Wooden boardwalks with observation towers and platforms wind through marshes and along the shore (before bringing children, know that most of the boardwalks lack handrails). The landscape is flat-out breathtaking, whether you’re exploring the marshes or the seashore, and it’s especially known for birding. Birders come from around the world hoping to see native and migratory species such as owls, hawks, martins, geese, warblers, ducks, snowy egrets, swallows, and Canada geese. Other visitors and residents include monarch butterflies, foxes, beavers, and harbor seals. Swimming is allowed but not encouraged: Currents are strong and can be dangerous, and there are no lifeguards. Surf fishing is popular, though, and striped bass and bluefish are found in the area. A permit is required for night fishing and vehicle access to the beach. The seven parking lots fill quickly on weekends when the weather is good, so plan to arrive early.