Every year, my (extended) family and I would venture to Cape Cod for a couple of weeks in August. This trip was literally the highlight of my year - and it still is, though I usually make it sans the entire family and with a few friends, instead.
The Cape is littered with hidden natural beauty, despite becoming increasingly populated. My grandmother (whose house we always stayed at, when she was still alive) was a bird enthusiast, and so by the time I was old enough to walk, I could clearly recognize the three Osprey nests (quite a find) that existed just between Orleans and Chatham alone!
Besides the Ospreys, of course, there were plenty of other great nature haunts. One of my favorite childhood stories involves me (age 4), my two older cousins and my grandmother going digging for clams. Of course, being so small, I sunk right into the mud a good couple of feet - it took all three of my companions to fish me out! And, I lost a boot to the muck forever.
Just going down to the Cape Cod Bay or heading out to the national seashore will leave you with more natural sea life than you could imagine. Horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, sand pipers and fish abound. On the outer beach, you can consider it odd if you don't see seals from the shore.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the Cape, however, is the whale watching trip out of Provincetown. Just north of the Cape's tip exists Stellwagon Bank, a national marine sanctuary that plays host to some of the most diverse and abundant ocean life you will find off the East Coast. Stellwagon Bank is the destination of most humpback whales (and finbacks, minkes, and even, recently, right whales) for the summer months.
To me, there is nothing like heading out on a whale watch with naturalists from the Center for Coastal Studies, learning about each creature we see, and observing the power and beauty of nature. There is nothing more natural than looking out at the vast ocean as a family of humpbacks breach and feed (they like to amuse watchers).
Though the Cape may not be a "hidden" destination in Massachusetts, per se, there are many hidden nature spots that are certainly worth a summer trip. I can't wait for my camping trip to the Cape at the end of July, you can be sure of that. Whales, here I come!
, users: HiCe (whale, Provincetown) and Chris Seufert (osprey, Chatham)