Wellfleet is just 40 minutes from our Inn and is indeed a part of the Cape that the average visitor has heard little about. The “must see” places are consistently Provincetown and Marthas Vineyard. If our guests have heard of anywhere, it will more often than not be these two destinations. Some people will tell you as they check in early evening, that they have just “done Provincetown”. We invariably ask them what they saw on the way up or back. “Why? Is there much to see?” they continue. Anyone who knows Cape Cod or lives here will be able to rattle off a list of places, and not just The National Seashore.
Charming and beautiful, Wellfleet is my favorite place on The Cape. Yes, the unthinkable, I prefer it to Chatham! It has all the ingredients I need for a memorable day trip, a wealth of diversity in the things to do and see. Wellfleet stands in its own right as an exceptional destination – it is not just a place to stop at en route to Ptown.
So what is so compelling about this New England village. Where do I start. Well seeing that we are in the midst of the beach season, Mayo Beach, a ten minute walk from the gorgeous village, is simply stunning. Having lived for many years near The Med and explored the coastline from Malaga in southern Spain to Reggio di Calabria on Italy’s toe, our feel for Mayo is that it reminds us of a good Mediterranean beach – the clear blue water gently lapping the shore is also a factor. It is a long beach, good for a jog or a stroll to work up an appetite. Talking of which, you can have lunch on the upper deck of The Bookstore Restaurant, and see for yourself why this unpretentious café with stunning vistas across the beach and the bay beyond, has such a formidable reputation for great, affordable and fresh seafood. Try the lobster roll or perhaps fried clams. The famous Wellfleet oyster beds are barely 100 yards away and oysters are freshly shucked minutes before you are sampling them.
We always take a look at some of the many art exhibitions in Wellfleet. Believe it or not, this little spot has more art galleries than anywhere else on Cape Cod. Then we just have time to find an ice cream before setting off to walk the Great Island Trail, a half mile west of the village. Now this trail is not to be missed and it is worth the effort to get out to Jeremy Point. You can stop and relax on one of the beaches and take care not to step on Fiddler Crabs.
Still on the Bay, if you come south a little on Route 6, you will find Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. There are trails to follow, the heath land , barrier beach, salt marsh and woodland supports a wide variety of wildlife including song and shore birds. The nature centre has been ecologically designed and is a good example of modern green architecture. This is a beautiful adventure.
No day trip to Wellfleet is complete without a visit to Marconi Beach on the eastern coastline known as The National Seashore. There you canrest a while on the cliff top and wonder at the enormous horizon, see a seal or two and maybe a whale or shark. Fix your eye upon a mark approximately 500 yards out into open water. This is where the Pirate ship, The Whydah, sank with 143 hands in 1717. Captain Black Sam Bellamy, who had captured the former slave galley from the British, also perished. He was on the way to Provincetown to see his wench, or so the story goes. Anyway, that was not the last that was heard of The Whidah. 267 years later in 1984, the wreck of The Whidah was found in just 14 feet of water and beneath 5 feet of sand, and yes just 500 yards from the beach. This remains the largest haul of treasure ever discovered in US coastal waters, 4.7 tons of gold and silver amongst priceless artifacts.
Well that has been a hugely enjoyable day and we have quite an appetite. Where better to stop for great food and a bistro like ambience, than PB Boulangerie, which is also in Wellfleet, and this will be a perfect end to our day. Not quite. Exclusively for our guests when they return to the Inn, are the candle-lit areas outside, including the front veranda between the soaring columns of this magnificent building. Here they can relax on balmy summer evenings over a night cap, reflect upon the day’s discoveries and plan tomorrow’s adventures. See you in the morning at breakfast.