Where to go now that you know where you want to go – By Armand Audette
Choosing Cape Cod as a vacation destination was a great decision. You must , however, now determine what part of the Cape to visit and where to stay. Our 65 miles have distinct “sections,” each with its own special features: The Upper Cape (closest to the bridges), the Mid-Cape and the Lower or Outer Cape. Even though, technically, the Lower Cape is farther North than the Upper Cape, it is easy to remember the terms if you think of Cape Cod as your arm raised over your head. Your lower arm may be higher than your upper arm but you can still remember the difference. (Illustrated using an actual picture of my arm!)
PLEASE NOTE: Some people are trying to divide Cape Cod into four sections: Upper, Mid, Lower and Outer. If you hear these distinctions, the Lower Cape is then meant to refer to the “elbow” region of the cape, while the Outer Cape refers to the forearm, wrist and hand. To most people, however, the terms “Lower” and “Outer” Cape are synonymous.
The Upper Cape was settled first (if you don’t count the Pilgrims pre-Plymouth landing in Provincetown, circa 1620). On the Upper Cape you will find many historic houses and classic architecture. The beaches are found on Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound.
The Mid-Cape is the most populated part of the Cape. Our only city, Hyannis, is located there. Visitors who do not want to be without the urban influences of malls, neon and night life should plan to stay there. Mid-Cape beaches are found on Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay.
The Lower Cape is the most remote and least populated part of Cape Cod. It is also the narrowest and is surrounded by water. Lower Cape beaches are found on the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Cod Bay and at the numerous crystal clear fresh water ponds located throughout. These ponds were formed by huge chunks of ice left by our last passing glacier.
The Great Beach, running from Chatham to Provincetown, faces the Atlantic and is truly the best beach on the Cape. It inspired President Kennedy to form the Cape Cod National Seashore Project here on the Lower Cape and not in the Mid-Cape area where he had his own summer home. It is the only place to go if you are a lover of waves.
Standing on the shore, beneath towering dune cliffs, one gets a special feeling watching the sun rise out of the ocean, knowing that beyond the horizon lies Portugal. The North Atlantic is known for its violent storms and these produce some of the most majestic breakers here on the Outer Cape. Surfboards and their owners are seen trying to harness that power year ’round here.
Because of The National Seashore, there are no motels on the ocean. Some motels may be found by the bay or on Nantucket Sound in other towns, but most of their guests end up commuting to the Atlantic Ocean beaches just the same.
The Lower Cape has been described as what the rest of Cape Cod used to look like. Quaint little villages, local fishing boats and an abundance of undeveloped land in its natural state wait for you to explore.
The Lower Cape is a hiker’s haven, a bird-watcher’s bonanza and a city-dweller’s oasis. The main motto here is… Life’s a Beach!