All New England boaters know about Cape Cod’s famous islands – Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard – and most know about nearby Cuttyhunk. But Cape Cod has many other islands that are especially great for boaters who prefer nature and scenery over crowds and fancy restaurants. Here are five of them.
Monomoy Island – Home to the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, this spit of land stretches 8 miles south of Chatham, forming the barrier islands of North and South Monomoy. The total size of the refuge is 7,604 acres, with habitats such as oceans, salt and freshwater marshes, dunes, and freshwater ponds, of which 3,244 acres are designated wilderness.
Washburn Island – This 330-acre island inside Waquoit Bay features hiking trails that wind through oak and pine forests, barrier beaches and salt ponds. The surrounding shallow bay is warm, and the area is known for its scenery and wildlife. Primitive camping is available on the island (reservations required).
Great Island – This 6-mile barrier beach and island system in Wellfleet is one of Cape Cod’s most remote areas. Separating Cape Cod Bay and Wellfleet Bay, the island features pitch pine forests, high dunes, and, at low tide, a wide expanse of tidal flats that produce the famed Wellfleet oyster.
Sampsons Island – This 37-acre barrier island also known as “Dead Neck,” is located off Osterville and Cotuit. Its beaches, tidal flats and salt marsh are important to migratory birds such as piping plovers and least terns. Boaters can use a narrow channel connecting Cotuit and West bays to access to the backside of the island and offload gear and passengers.
Egg Island – This low-lying island at the entrance of Lewis Bay off Hyannis is a popular spot for boaters to anchor and enjoy swimming in the shallow waters or picnicking on the beach. But plan your visit around low tide, as there isn’t much dry land to enjoy at high tide.