The Harwich coast is basically one continuous beach punctuated by the occasional harbor. Harwich Port is so close to the sound that it's a snap to walk the block or two to the water -- provided you find a parking place in town (try the lot near the chamber of commerce booth in the center of town). Parking right at the beach is pretty much limited to residents and renters, who can obtain a weekly sticker for $55 at the Community Center, 100 Oak St., Harwich (tel. 508/430-7568).
- Bank Street Beach, at the end of Bank Street, in Harwich Port: This is one of the few sound beaches in Harwich Port that has parking, but you will need a sticker. The sound beaches are generally warm and calm and very good beaches for swimming. This is a pretty (and popular) stretch, where you'll see lots of families as well as the self-conscious college crowd. Amenities include lifeguards and restrooms.
- Hinckleys Pond and Seymours Pond, west of Route 124, and right off the Rail Trail; and Bucks Pond, off Depot Road, at Route 39, northeast of Harwich: Although Hinckleys and Bucks have limited parking, no parking sticker is required. At Seymours, however, you will need a sticker. Lifeguards are on staff in season, but you won't find any restrooms here.
- Red River Beach, off Uncle Venies Road, south of Route 28, in South Harwich: This is the only sound beach in town offering parking for day-trippers (they still have to get here early to nab a spot); the daily fee is $15. Marked off with stone jetties, this narrow, 2,700-foot beach has full facilities, with bathrooms. It also has lifeguards.
- Sand Pond, off Great Western Road, near Depot Street: This beach honors the weekly beach sticker, as do the two parking lots at Long Pond (btw. routes 137 and 124). The beach has restrooms and lifeguards.
Transecting Harwich for about 5 miles, the Cape Cod Rail Trail skirts some pretty ponds in the western part before veering north and zigzagging toward Brewster along Route 124. See Brewster listings for bike rentals.
You can rent a canoe by the day or the week at Goose Hummock, in Orleans (tel. 508/255-2620; www.goose.com), and paddle down the Herring River, in West Harwich. Meandering from a reservoir south to the sound, the river is a natural herring run framed by a cattail marsh.
There are six ponds available for fishing in the Harwich area, as well as extensive shellfishing in season; for details and a license, visit Town Hall, at 732 Main St., in Harwich Center (tel. 508/430-7514). Several deep-sea fishing boats operate out of Saquatucket Harbor (off Rte. 28, about 1/2 mile east of Harwich Port), including the 33-footer Fish Tale (tel. 508/432-3783), which charges $650 for 6 hours and $800 (includes lunch) for 8 hours. The 65-foot Yankee (tel. 508/432-2520) is a party boat out of Saquatucket Harbor offering two 4-hour trips per day (8am-noon and 12:30-4:30pm) Monday through Saturday and one trip on Sunday in season. Off season there's one trip per day. Trips cost $40 for adults and $38 for seniors and children 9 and under.
Both the championship 18-hole Cranberry Valley Golf Course, at 183 Oak St., in Harwich (tel. 508/430-5234; www.cranberrygolfcourse.com), which wends its way among cranberry bogs, and the 9-hole Harwich Port Golf Club, at 51 South St., in Harwich Port (tel. 508/432-0250; www.harwichportgolf.com), are open to the public. Cranberry Valley charges $65 for a round, and Harwich Port Golf Club charges $34 for 18 holes.
Nature & Wildlife Areas
The largest preserve in Harwich is the 245-acre Bells Neck Conservation Area, north of Route 28, near the Dennis border. It encompasses the Herring River, ideal for birding and canoeing.
Public courts are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Cape Cod Technical High School, on Route 124; and Brooks Park, on Oak Street, about one-quarter mile east of Harwich Center, off Route 39; for details contact the Harwich Recreation Department (tel. 508/430-7553).
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.