Cape Cod | Nantucket Ferry
Information from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Cod
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the area of Massachusetts. For other uses, see Cape Cod (disambiguation).
For other uses, see Cod (disambiguation).
Coordinates: 41°41′20″N 70°17′49″W / 41.68889°N 70.29694°W / 41.68889; -70.29694
Map of Massachusetts, with Cape Cod (Barnstable County) indicated in red
Dunes on Sandy Neck are part of the Cape's barrier beach which helps to prevent erosion
Cape Cod, often referred to locally as simply the Cape, is an island and a cape in the easternmost portion of the state of Massachusetts, in the Northeastern United States. It is coextensive with Barnstable County. Several small islands right off Cape Cod, including Monomoy Island, Monomoscoy Island, Popponesset Island, and Seconsett Island, are also in Barnstable County, being part of municipalities with land on the Cape. The Cape's small-town character and large beachfront attract heavy tourism during the summer months.
Cape Cod was formed as the terminal moraine of a glacier, resulting in a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean. In 1914, the Cape Cod Canal was cut through the base or isthmus of the peninsula, forming an island. The Cape Cod Commission refers to the resultant landmass as an island; as does the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in regards to disaster preparedness. It is still identified as a peninsula by geographers, who do not change landform designations based on man-made canal construction.
Unofficially, it is one of the biggest barrier islands in the world, shielding much of the Massachusetts coastline from North Atlantic storm waves. This protection helps to erode the Cape shoreline at the expense of cliffs, while protecting towns from Fairhaven to Marshfield.
Road vehicles from the mainland cross over the Cape Cod Canal via the Sagamore Bridge and the Bourne Bridge. The two bridges are parallel, with the Bourne Bridge located slightly farther southwest. In addition, the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge carries railway freight as well as tourist passenger services.
* 1 Geography and political divisions
o 1.1 "Upper" and "Lower"
* 2 Geology
* 3 Climate
* 4 Native population
* 5 History
* 6 Lighthouses of Cape Cod
* 7 Transportation
o 7.1 Bus
o 7.2 Rail
o 7.3 Taxi
* 8 Tourism
* 9 Sport fishing
* 10 Sports
* 11 Education
* 12 Islands off Cape Cod
* 13 See also
* 14 References
o 14.1 Notes
o 14.2 Sources
o 14.3 Further reading
* 15 External links
 Geography and political divisions
Towns of Barnstable County
historical map of 1890
The highest elevation on Cape Cod is 306 feet (93 m), at the top of Pine Hill, in the Bourne portion of the Massachusetts Military Reservation. The lowest point is sea level.
The body of water located between Cape Cod and the mainland, bordered to the north by Massachusetts Bay, is Cape Cod Bay; west of Cape Cod is Buzzards Bay. The Cape Cod Canal, completed in 1916, connects Buzzards Bay to Cape Cod Bay; it shortened the trade route between New York and Boston by 62 miles. To the south of Cape Cod lie Nantucket Sound; Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, both large islands, and the mostly privately owned Elizabeth Islands.
Cape Cod incorporates all of Barnstable County, which comprises 15 towns: Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, and Mashpee, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown. Two of the county's fifteen towns (Bourne and Sandwich) include land on the mainland side of the Cape Cod Canal. The towns of Plymouth and Wareham, in adjacent Plymouth County, are sometimes considered to be part of Cape Cod but are not located on the island.
In the 17th century the designation Cape Cod applied only to the tip of the peninsula, essentially present-day Provincetown. Over the ensuing decades, the name came to mean all the land east of the Manomet and Scussett rivers - essentially the line of the 20th century Cape Cod Canal. Now, the complete towns of Bourne and Sandwich are widely considered to incorporate the full perimeter of Cape Cod, even though small parts of these towns are located on the west side of the canal. The canal divides the largest part of the peninsula from the mainland and the resultant landmass is sometimes referred to as an island. Additionally some "Cape Codders" – residents of "The Cape" – refer to all land on the mainland side of the canal as "off-Cape."
For most of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, Cape Cod was considered to consist of three sections:
* The Upper Cape is the part of Cape Cod closest to the mainland, comprising the towns of Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, and Mashpee. Falmouth is the home of the famous Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and several other research organizations, and is also the most-used ferry connection to Martha's Vineyard. Falmouth is composed of several separate villages, including East Falmouth, Falmouth Village, Hatchville, North Falmouth, Teaticket, Waquoit, West Falmouth, and Woods Hole, as well as several smaller hamlets that are incorporated into their larger neighbors (e.g., Davisville, Falmouth Heights, Quissett, Sippewissett, and others).
* The Mid-Cape includes the towns of Barnstable, Yarmouth and Dennis. The Mid-Cape area features many beautiful beaches, including warm-water beaches along Nantucket Sound, e.g., Kalmus Beach in Hyannis, which gets its name from one of the inventors of Technicolor, Herbert Kalmus. This popular windsurfing destination was bequeathed to the town of Barnstable by Dr. Kalmus on condition that it not be developed, possibly one of the first instances of open-space preservation in the US. The Mid-Cape is also the commercial and industrial center of the region. There are seven villages in Barnstable, including Barnstable Village, Centerville, Cotuit, Hyannis, Marstons Mills, Osterville, and West Barnstable, as well as several smaller hamlets that are incorporated into their larger neighbors (e.g., Craigville, Cummaquid, Hyannisport, Santuit, Wianno, and others). There are three villages in Yarmouth: South Yarmouth, West Yarmouth and Yarmouthport. There are five villages in Dennis including, Dennis Village(North Dennis), East Dennis, West Dennis, South Dennis and Dennisport.
* The Lower Cape traditionally included all of the rest of the Cape,or the towns of Harwich, Brewster, Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown. This area includes the Cape Cod National Seashore, a national park comprising much of the outer Cape, including the entire east-facing coast, and is home to some of the most popular beaches in America, such as Coast Guard Beach and Nauset Light Beach in Eastham. Stephen Leatherman, aka "Dr. Beach", named Coast Guard Beach the 5th best beach in America for 2007.
 "Upper" and "Lower"
The terms "Upper" and "Lower" as applied to the Cape have nothing to do with north and south. Instead, they derive from maritime convention at the time when the principal means of transportation involved watercraft, and the prevailing westerly winds meant that a boat with sails traveling northeast in Cape Cod Bay would have the wind at its back and thus be going downwind, while a craft sailing southwest would be going against the wind, or upwind. Similarly, on nearby Martha's Vineyard, "Up Island" still is the western section and "Down Island" is to the east, and in Maine, "Down East" is similarly defined by the winds and currents.
Over time, the reasons for the traditional nomenclature became unfamiliar and their meaning obscure. Late in the 1900s, new arrivals began calling towns from Eastham to Provincetown the "Outer Cape", yet another geographic descriptor which is still in use, as is the "Inner Cape."
Cape Cod and Cape Cod Bay from space.
East of America, there stands in the open Atlantic the last fragment of an ancient and vanished land. Worn by the breakers and the rains, and disintegrated by the wind, it still stands bold.
Henry Beston, The Outermost House
Cape Cod forms a continuous archipelagic region with a thin line of islands stretching toward New York, historically known by naturalists as the Outer Lands. This continuity is due to the fact that the islands and Cape are all terminal glacial moraines laid down some 16,000 to 20,000 years ago.
Most of Cape Cod's geological history involves the advance and retreat of the Laurentide ice sheet in the late Pleistocene geological era and the subsequent changes in sea level. Using radiocarbon dating techniques, researchers have determined that around 23,000 years ago, the ice sheet reached its maximum southward advance over North America, and then started to retreat. Many "kettle ponds" — clear, cold lakes — were formed and remain on Cape Cod as a result of the receding glacier. By about 18,000 years ago, the ice sheet had retreated past Cape Cod. By roughly 15,000 years ago, it had retreated past southern New England. When so much of Earth's water was locked up in massive ice sheets, the sea level was lower. Truro's bayside beaches used to be a petrified forest, before it became a beach.
As the ice began to melt, the sea began to rise. Initially, sea level rose quickly, about 15 meters (50 ft) per 1,000 years, but then the rate declined. On Cape Cod, sea level rose roughly 3 meters (11 ft) per millennium between 6,000 and 2,000 years ago. After that, it continued to rise at about 1 meter (3 ft) per millennium. By 6,000 years ago, the sea level was high enough to start eroding the glacial deposits that the vanished continental ice sheet had left on Cape Cod. The water transported the eroded deposits north and south along the outer Cape's shoreline. Those reworked sediments that moved north went to the tip of Cape Cod.
Provincetown Spit, at the northern end of the Cape, consists largely of marine deposits, transported from farther up the shore. Sediments that moved south created the islands and shoals of Monomoy. So while other parts of the Cape have dwindled from the action of the waves, these parts of the Cape have grown.
Cape Cod National Seashore
This process continues today. Due to their position jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape and islands are subject to massive coastal erosion. Geologists say that, due to erosion, the Cape will be completely submerged by the sea in thousands of years. This erosion causes the washout of beaches and the destruction of the barrier islands; for example, the ocean broke through the barrier island at Chatham during Hurricane Bob in 1991, allowing waves and storm surges to hit the coast with no obstruction. Consequently, the sediment and sand from the beaches is being washed away and deposited elsewhere. While this destroys land in some places, it creates land elsewhere, most noticeably in marshes where sediment is deposited by waters running through them.
Although Cape Cod's weather is typically more moderate than inland locations, there have been occasions where Cape Cod has dealt with the brunt of extreme weather situations (such as the Blizzard of 1954 and Hurricane of 1938). Because of the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, temperatures are typically a few degrees cooler in the summer and a few degrees warmer in the winter. A common misconception is that the climate is influenced largely by the warm Gulf Stream current, however that current turns eastward off the coast of Virginia and the waters off the Cape are more influenced by the cold Canadian Labrador Current. As a result, the ocean temperature rarely gets above 65 °F (18 °C), except along the shallow west coast of the Upper Cape.
The Cape's climate is also notorious for a delayed spring season, being surrounded by an ocean which is still cold from the winter; however, it is also known for an exceptionally mild fall season (Indian summer), thanks to the ocean remaining warm from the summer. The highest temperature ever recorded on Cape Cod was 104 °F (40 °C) in Provincetown, and the lowest temperature ever was −12 °F (−24.4 °C) in Barnstable.
The water surrounding Cape Cod moderates winter temperatures enough to extend the USDA hardiness zone 7a to its northernmost limit in eastern North America. Even though zone 7a (annual low = 0–5 degrees Fahrenheit) signifies no sub-zero temperatures annually, there have been several instances of temperatures reaching a few degrees below zero across the Cape (although it is rare, usually 1–5 times a year, typically depending on locale, sometimes not at all). Consequently, many plant species typically found in more southerly latitudes grow there, including Camellias, Ilex opaca, Magnolia grandiflora and Albizia julibrissin.
Precipitation on Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket is the lowest in the New England region, averaging slightly less than 40 inches (1,000 mm) a year (most parts of New England average 42–46 inches). This is due to storm systems which move across western areas, building up in mountainous regions, and dissipating before reaching the coast where the land has leveled out. The region does not experience a greater number of sunny days however, as the number of cloudy days is the same as inland locales, in addition to increased fog. Snowfall is annual, but a lot less common than the rest of Massachusetts. On average, 30 inches of snow, which is a foot less than Boston, falls in an average winter. Snow is usually light, and comes in squalls on cold days. Storms that bring blizzard conditions and snow emergencies to the mainland, bring devastating ice storms or just heavy rains more frequently than large snow storms.
[hide]Climate data for Cape Cod
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 2.06
Average low °C (°F) -5.33
Precipitation mm (inches) 98
Source: World Meteorological Organisation (United Nations) 
 Native population
Cape Cod has been the home of the Wampanoag tribe of Native American people for many centuries. They survived off the sea and were accomplished farmers. They understood the principles of sustainable forest management, and were known to light controlled fires to keep the underbrush in check. They helped the Pilgrims, who arrived in the fall of 1620, survive at their new Plymouth Colony. At the time, the dominant group was the Kakopee, known for their abilities at fishing. They were the first Native Americans to use large casting nets. Early colonial settlers recorded that the Kakopee numbered nearly 7,000.
Shortly after the Pilgrims arrived, the chief of the Kakopee, Mogauhok, attempted to make a treaty limiting colonial settlements. The effort failed after he succumbed to smallpox in 1625. Infectious diseases such as smallpox, measles and influenza caused the deaths of many other Kakopee and Wampanoag. They had no natural immunity to Eurasian diseases by then endemic among the English and other Europeans. Today, the only reminder of the Kakopee is a small public recreation area in Barnstable named for them. A historic marker notes the burial site of Mogauhok near Truro, although the location is conjecture.
While contractors were digging test wells in the eastern Massachusetts Military Reservation area, they discovered an archeological find. Excavation revealed the remains of a Kakopee village in Forestdale, a location in Sandwich. Researchers found a totem with a painted image of Mogauhok, portrayed in his chief's cape and brooch. The totem was discovered on property on Grand Oak Road. It is the first evidence other than colonial accounts of his role as an important Kakopee leader.
The Indians lost their lands through continued purchase and expropriation by the English colonists. The documentary Natives of the Narrowland (1993), narrated by actress Julie Harris, shows the history of the Wampanoag people through Cape Cod archaeological sites.
In 1974, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council was formed to articulate the concerns of those with Native American ancestry. They petitioned the federal government in 1975 and again in 1990 for official recognition of the Mashpee Wampanoag as a tribe. In May 2007, the Wampanoag tribe was finally federally recognized as a tribe.
Cranberry picking in 1906
Cape Cod was a landmark for early explorers. It may have been the "Promontory of Vinland" mentioned by the Norse voyagers (985-1025). Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524 approached it from the south. He named Martha's Vineyard Claudia, after the mother of the King of France. The next year the explorer Esteban Gómez called it Cape St. James.
In 1602 Bartholomew Gosnold named it Cape Cod, the surviving term and the ninth oldest English place-name in the U.S. Samuel de Champlain charted its sand-silted harbors in 1606 and Henry Hudson landed there in 1609. Captain John Smith noted it on his map of 1614 and at last the Pilgrims entered the "Cape Harbor" and – contrary to the popular myth of Plymouth Rock – made their first landing near present-day Provincetown on November 11, 1620. Nearby, in what is now Eastham, they had their first encounter with Native Americans.
Cape Cod was among the first places settled by the English in North America. Aside from Barnstable (1639), Sandwich (1637) and Yarmouth (1639), the Cape's fifteen towns developed slowly. The final town to be established on the Cape was Bourne in 1884. Provincetown was a group of huts until the 18th century. A channel from Massachusetts Bay to Buzzards Bay is shown on Southack's map of 1717. The present Cape Cod Canal was slowly developed from 1870 to 1914. The Federal government purchased it in 1928.
Thanks to early colonial settlement and intensive land use, by the time Henry Thoreau saw Cape Cod during his four visits over 1849 to 1857, its vegetation was depauperate and trees were scarce. As the settlers heated by fires, and it took 10 to 20 cords (40 to 80 m³) of wood to heat a home, they cleared most of Cape Cod of timber early on. They planted familiar crops, but these were unsuited to Cape Cod's thin, glacially derived soils. For instance, much of Eastham was planted to wheat. The settlers practiced burning of woodlands to release nutrients into the soil. Improper and intensive farming led to erosion and the loss of topsoil. Farmers grazed their cattle on the grassy dunes of coastal Massachusetts, only to watch "in horror as the denuded sands `walked' over richer lands, burying cultivated fields and fences." Dunes on the outer Cape became more common and many harbors filled in with eroded soils.
By 1800, most of Cape Cod's firewood had to be transported by boat from Maine. The paucity of vegetation was worsened by the raising of merino sheep that reached its peak in New England around 1840. The early industrial revolution, which occurred through much of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, mostly bypassed Cape Cod due to a lack of significant water power in the area. As a result, and also because of its geographic position, the Cape developed as a large fishing and whaling center. After 1860 and the opening of the American West, farmers abandoned agriculture on the Cape. By 1950 forests had recovered to an extent not seen since the 18th century.
Cape Cod became a summer haven for city dwellers beginning at the end of the 19th century. Improved rail transportation made the towns of the Upper Cape, such as Bourne and Falmouth, accessible to Bostonians. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Northeastern mercantile elite built many large, shingled "cottages" along Buzzards Bay. The relaxed summer environment offered by Cape Cod was highlighted by writers including Joseph C. Lincoln, who published novels and countless short stories about Cape Cod folks in popular magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post and the Delineator.
Guglielmo Marconi made the first transatlantic wireless transmission originating in the United States from Cape Cod, at Wellfleet. The beach from which he transmitted has since been called Marconi Beach. In 1914 he opened the maritime wireless station WCC in Chatham. It supported the communications of Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes, Admiral Byrd, and the Hindenburg. Marconi chose Chatham due to its vantage point on the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded on three sides by water. Walter Cronkite narrated a 17-minute documentary in 2005 about the history of the Chatham Station.
Much of the East-facing Atlantic seacoast of Cape Cod consists of wide, sandy beaches. In 1961, a significant portion of this coastline, already slated for housing subdivisions, was made a part of the Cape Cod National Seashore by President John F. Kennedy. It was protected from private development and preserved for public use. Large portions are open to the public, including the Marconi Site in Wellfleet. This is a park encompassing the site of the first two-way transoceanic radio transmission from the United States. (Theodore Roosevelt used Marconi's equipment for this transmission).
The Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport was President Kennedy's summer White House during his presidency. The Kennedy family continues to maintain residences on the compound. Other notable residents of Cape Cod have included actress Julie Harris, US Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, figure skater Todd Eldredge, and novelists Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut. Influential natives included the patriot James Otis, historian and writer Mercy Otis Warren, jurist Lemuel Shaw, and naval officer John Percival.
 Lighthouses of Cape Cod
Race Point Lighthouse in Provincetown (1876)
Lighthouses, from ancient times, have fascinated members of the human race. There is something about a lighted beacon that suggests hope and trust and appeals to the better instincts of mankind.
Edward Rowe Snow
Due to its dangerous constantly moving shoals, Cape Cod's shores have featured beacons which warn ships of the danger since very early in its history. There are numerous working lighthouses on Cape Cod and the Islands, including Highland Light, Nauset Light, Chatham Light, Race Point Light, and Nobska Light, mostly operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. The exception is Nauset Light, which was decommissioned in 1996 and is now maintained by the Nauset Light Preservation Society under the auspices of Cape Cod National Seashore. These lighthouses are frequently photographed symbols of Cape Cod.
Upper Cape: Wings Neck
Mid Cape: Sandy Neck, South Hyannis, Lewis Bay, Bishop and Clerks, Bass River
Lower Cape: Wood End, Long Point, Monomoy, Stage Harbor, Pamet, Mayo Beach, Billingsgate, Three Sisters, Nauset, Highland
Cape Cod is connected to the mainland by a pair of canal-spanning highway bridges from Bourne and Sagamore that were constructed in the 1930s, and a vertical-lift railroad bridge. The limited number of access points to the peninsula can result in large traffic backups during the tourist season.
The entire Cape is roughly bisected lengthwise by U.S. Route 6, locally known as the Mid-Cape Highway and officially as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway.
Commercial air service to Cape Cod operates out of Barnstable Municipal Airport and Provincetown Municipal Airport. Several bus lines service the Cape. There are ferry connections from Boston to Provincetown, as well as from Hyannis and Woods Hole to the islands.
Cape Cod has a public transportation network comprising buses operated by three different companies, a rail line, taxis and paratransit services.
The Bourne Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal, with the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge in the background
Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority operates a year-round public bus system comprising three long distance routes and a local bus in Hyannis and Barnstable Village. From mid June until October, additional local routes are added in Falmouth and Provincetown. CCRTA also operates Barnstable County's ADA required paratransit (dial-a-ride) service, under the name "B-Bus."
Long distance bus service is available through Plymouth and Brockton Street Railway, with regular service to Boston and Logan Airport, as well as less frequent service to Provincetown. Peter Pan Bus Lines also runs long distance service to Providence T.F. Green Airport and New York City.
Regular passenger rail service through Cape Cod ended in 1959, quite possibly on June 30 of that year. In 1978, the tracks east of South Dennis were abandoned and replaced with the very popular bicycle path, known as the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Another bike path, the Shining Sea Bikeway, was built over tracks between Woods Hole and Falmouth in 1975; construction to extend this path to North Falmouth over 6.3 miles (10.1 km) of inactive rail bed began in April 2008 and ended in early 2009. Active freight service remains in the Upper Cape area in Sandwich and in Bourne, largely due to a trash transfer station located at Massachusetts Military Reservation along the Bourne-Falmouth rail line. In 1986, Amtrak ran a seasonal service in the summer from New York City to Hyannis called the Cape Codder. From 1988, Amtrak and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation increased service to a daily frequency. Since its demise in 1996, there have been periodic discussions about reinstating passenger rail service from Boston to reduce car traffic to and from the Cape, with officials in Bourne seeking to re-extend MBTA Commuter Rail service from Middleboro to Buzzards Bay, despite a reluctant Beacon Hill legislature.
Cape Cod Central Railroad operates passenger train service on Cape Cod. The service is primarily tourist oriented and includes a dinner train. The scenic route between Downtown Hyannis and the Cape Cod Canal is about 2½ hours round trip. Massachusetts Coastal Railroad is also planning to return passenger railroad services eventually to the Bourne-Falmouth rail line in the future. An August 5, 2009 article on the New England Cable News channel, entitled South Coast rail project a priority for Mass. lawmakers, mentions a $1.4-billion railroad reconstruction plan by Governor Deval Patrick, and could mean rebuilding of old rail lines on the Cape. On November 21, 2009, the town of Falmouth saw its first passenger train in 12 years, a set of dinner train cars from Cape Cod Central. And a trip from the Mass Bay Railroad Enthusiasts on May 15, 2010 revealed a second trip along the Falmouth line.
Taxicabs are plentiful, with several different companies operating out of different parts of the Cape. Except at the airport and some bus terminals with taxi stands, cabs must be booked ahead of time, with most operators preferring two to three hours notice. Cabs cannot be "hailed" anywhere in Barnstable County, this was outlawed in the early nineties after several robbery attempts on drivers.
Most companies utilize a New York City-style taximeter and charge based on distance plus an initial fee of $2 to $3. In Provincetown, cabs charge a flat fare per person anywhere in the town.
Hyannis Harbor on Nantucket Sound
Although Cape Cod has a year-round population of about 230,000, it experiences a tourist season each summer, the beginning and end of which can be roughly approximated as Memorial Day and Labor Day, respectively. Many businesses are specifically targeted to summer visitors, and close during the eight to nine months of the "off season" (although the "on season" has been expanding somewhat in recent years due to Indian Summer, reduced lodging rates, and the number of people visiting the Cape after Labor Day who either have no school-age children, and the elderly, reducing the true "off season" to six or seven months). In the late 20th century, tourists and owners of second homes began visiting the Cape more and more in the spring and fall, softening the definition of the high season and expanding it somewhat (see above). Some particularly well-known Cape products and industries include cranberries, shellfish (particularly oysters and clams) and lobstering.
Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod, also berths several whale watching fleets who patrol the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Most fleets guarantee a whale sighting (mostly humpback whale, fin whale, minke whale, sei whale, and critically endangered, the North Atlantic Right Whale), and one is the only federally certified operation qualified to rescue whales. Provincetown has also long been known as an art colony, attracting writers and artists. The town is home to the Cape's most attended art museum, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Many hotels and resorts are friendly to or cater to gay and lesbian tourists and it is known as a gay mecca in the summer.
Cape Cod is a popular destination for beachgoers from all over. With 559.6 miles (900.6 km) of coastline, beaches, both public and private, are easily accessible. The Cape has upwards of sixty public beaches, many of which offer parking for non-residents for a daily fee (in summer). The Cape Cod National Seashore has 40 miles (64 km) of sandy beach and many walking paths.
Cape Cod is also popular for its outdoor activities like beach walking, biking, boating, fishing, go-karts, golfing, kayaking, miniature golf, and unique shopping. There are 27 public, daily-fee golf courses and 15 private courses on Cape Cod. Bed and breakfasts or vacation houses are often used for lodging.
Each summer the Naukabout Music Festival is held at the Barnstable County Fair Grounds located in East Falmouth,(typically) during the first weekend of August. This Music festival features local, regional and national talent along with food, arts and family friendly activities.
 Sport fishing
Cape Cod is known around the world as a spring-to-fall destination for sport anglers. Among the species most widely pursued are striped bass, bluefish, bluefin tuna, false albacore (little tunny), bonito, tautog, flounder and fluke. The Cape Cod Bay side of the Cape, from Sandwich to Provincetown, has several harbors, saltwater creeks, and shoals that hold bait fish and attract the larger game fish, such as striped bass, bluefish and bluefin tuna.
The outer edge of the Cape, from Provincetown to Falmouth, faces the open Atlantic from Provincetown to Chatham, and then the more protected water of Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds, from Chatham to Falmouth. The bays, harbors and shoals along this coastline also provide a robust habitat for game species, and during the late summer months warm-water species such as mahi-mahi and marlin will also appear on the southern edge of Cape Cod's waters. Nearly every harbor on Cape Cod hosts sport fishing charter boats, which run from May through October.
The Cape has nine amateur baseball franchises playing within Barnstable County in the Cape Cod Baseball League. The Wareham Gatemen also play in the Cape Cod Baseball League in nearby Wareham, Massachusetts in Plymouth County. The league originated 1923, although intertown competition traces to 1866. Teams in the league are the Bourne Braves, Brewster Whitecaps, Chatham Anglers (formerly the Chatham Athletics), Cotuit Kettleers, Falmouth Commodores, Harwich Mariners, Hyannis Harbor Hawks (formerly the Hyannis Mets), Orleans Firebirds (formerly the Orleans Cardinals), Wareham Gatemen and the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. Pro ball scouts frequent the games in the summer, looking for stars of the future.
Cape Cod is also a national hot bed for baseball and hockey. Along with the Cape Cod Baseball League and the new Junior Hockey League team, the Cape Cod Cubs, many high school players are being seriously recruited as well. Barnstable and Harwich have each sent multiple players to Division 1 colleges for baseball, Harwich has also won three State titles in the past 12 years (1996, 2006, 2007). Bourne and Sandwich, known rivals in hockey have won state championships recently. Bourne in 2004, and Sandwich in 2007. Nauset, Barnstable, and Martha's Vineyard are also state hockey powerhouses. Barnstable and Falmouth also hold the title of having one of the longest Thanksgiving football rivalries in the country. The teams have played each other every year on the Thanksgiving since 1895. The Bourne and Barnstable girl's volleyball teams are two of the best teams in the state and Barnstable in the country. With Bourne winning the State title in 2003 and 2007. In the past 15 years, Barnstable has won 12 Division 1 State titles and has won the state title the past two years.
The Cape also is home to the Cape Cod Frenzy, a team in the American Basketball Association.
Soccer on Cape Cod is represented by the Cape Cod Crusaders, playing in the USL Premier Development League (PDL) soccer based in Hyannis. In addition, a summer Cape Cod Adult Soccer League (CCASL) is active in several towns on the Cape.
Cape Cod is also the home of the Cape Cod Cubs, a new junior league hockey team that is based out of Hyannis at the new communtiy center being built of Bearses Way.
The end of each summer is marked with the running of the world famous Falmouth Road Race which is held on the 3rd Saturday in August. It draws about 10,000 runners to the Cape and showcases the finest runners in the world (mainly for the large purse that the race is able to offer). The race is 7.2 miles (11.6 km) long, which is a non-standard distance. The reason for the unusual distance is that the man who thought the race up (Tommy Leonard) was a bartender who wanted a race along the coast from one bar (The Cap'n Kidd in Woods Hole) to another (The Brothers Four in Falmouth Heights). While the bar in Falmouth Heights is no longer there, the race still starts at the front door of the Cap'n Kidd in Woods Hole and now finishes at the beach in Falmouth Heights. Prior to the Falmouth race is an annual 5-mile (8.0 km) race through Brewster called the Brew Run, held early in August.
Each town usually consists of a few elementary schools, one or two middle schools and one large public high school that services the entire town. Exceptions to this include Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School located in Yarmouth which services both the town of Yarmouth as well as Dennis and Nauset Regional High School located in Eastham which services the town of Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown (optional). Bourne High School is the public school for students residing in the town of Bourne, which is gathered from villages in Bourne, including Sagamore, Sagamore Beach, and Buzzards Bay. Barnstable High School is the largest high school and is known for its girls' volleyball team which have been state champions a total of 12 times. Barnstable High School also boasts one of the country's best high school drama clubs which were awarded with a contract by Warner Brothers to created a documentary in webisode format based on their production of Wizard of Oz. Sturgis Charter Public School is a public school in Hyannis which was featured in Newsweek's Magazine's "Best High Schools" ranking. It ranked 28th in the country and 1st in the state of Massachusetts in the 2009 edition and ranked 43rd and 55th in the 2008 and 2007 edition, respectively. Sturgis offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in their junior and senior year and is open to students as far as Plymouth. The Cape also contains two vocational high schools. One is the Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich and the other is Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical High School located in Bourne. Lastly, Mashpee High School is home to the Mashpee Chapter of (SMPTE,) the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. This chapter is the first and only high school chapter in the world to be a part of this organization and has received much recognition within the Los Angeles broadcasting industry as a result. The officers of this group who have made history are listed below:
* President: Ryan D. Stanley '11
* Vice-President Kenneth J. Peters '13
* Treasurer Eric N. Bergquist '11
* Secretary Andrew L. Medlar '11
In addition to public schools, Cape Cod has a wide range of private schools. The town of Barnstable has Trinity Christian Academy, Cape Cod Academy, St. Francis Xavier Preparatory School, and Pope John Paul II High School. Bourne offers the Waldorf School of Cape Cod, Orleans offers the Lighthouse Charter School for elementary and middle school students, and Falmouth offers Falmouth Academy. Riverview School is located in East Sandwich and is a special co-ed boarding school which services students as old as 22 who have learning disabilities. Another specialized school is the Penikese Island School located on Penikese Island, part of the Elizabeth Islands off southwestern Cape Cod, which services struggling and troubled teenage boys.
Cape Cod also contains two institutions of higher education. One is the Cape Cod Community College located in West Barnstable, Barnstable. The other is Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, Bourne. Massachusetts Maritime Academy is the oldest continuously operating maritime college in the United States.
 Islands off Cape Cod
Like Cape Cod itself, the islands south of the Cape have evolved from whaling and trading areas to resort destinations, attracting wealthy families, celebrities, and other tourists. The islands include Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, as well as Forbes family-owned Naushon Island, which was purchased by John Murray Forbes with profits from opium dealing in the China trade during the Opium War. Naushon is one of the Elizabeth Islands, many of which are privately owned. One of the publicly accessible Elizabeths is the southernmost island in the chain, Cuttyhunk, with a year-round population of 52 people. Several prominent families have established compounds or estates on the larger islands, making these islands some of the wealthiest resorts in the Northeast, yet they retain much of the early merchant trading and whaling culture.