"Eastham Is A Cape Cod Town..."

Why not visit Eastham, the home of the Wreckers, Mr. Knowles and Mr. Doane?

In the 19th century they were marked men and half of the town worked for them in the 1820s and 30s. They were the pirates on the beach, the lighthouse haters, who made their living off the fate of wrecked ships blown ashore or stranded on the shifting shoals off Eastham.

These were the true land pirates who earned the wrath of many a schooner captain after being relieved of their cash by a bunch of landlubbing buccaneers.

What choice did they have? It was either pay and get off the shoal or be pounded to death by the surf. Sounds like a no brainer decision to me.

One wrecker remarked after saving a schooner's tail, "Hey! That was simple. The captain could have done that himself."

Well, maybe. The poor captains had no knowledge of the shifting sands, hidden shoals, and tricky winds. The wreckers did. It was their backyard, their sandbox and many a captain owed them his life, his career, and his ship.

Beaches for the Public in Eastham

Eastham has beaches on both sides of Cape Cod.

To the East is the wonderful First Encounter Beach at the end of Samoset Road. It is called First Encounter Beach because it is where the Pilgrims first encountered the Indians. They had sailed down the inner Cape from Provincetown where the Mayflower was anchored looking for a good harbor that had rivers and streams. Wellfleet was scratched because there was no river there and it was shallow and could not handle large ships like the Mayflower.

They made camp on the beach and gathered wood and built fires for warmth and cooking. It was the middle of December and very cold.

In the early morning, one of the watch guards gave the alarm that Indians were coming. Everyone armed themselves and a hail of arrows descended on the camp. Firing their muskets, the Indians were driven off.

The party continued along the inner cape and then up towards Plymouth where the discovered a deep harbor with streams and brooks leading into the Harbor.

They sailed back across Massachusetts Bay to Provincetown and told the waiting Pilgrims their good news.

Coast Guard Beach


One and one-half miles East on Nauset and Doane Roads (on road to beach from Salt Pond Visitor Center). Look for brown and white signs.


Observe posted speed limits; watch out for bicyclist and walkers.


Coast Guard Beach is a prime swimming beach during the summer season. From mid-June to Labor Day, the parking lot at this location is closed, and access is provided by shuttle bus from the Little Creek parking area (across from the Doane Area). Although the parking lot at Coast Guard Beach is open the remainder of the year, parking is limited. There are seasonal restrooms and a wheelchair accessible ramp way to the beach.

Note For Educators:

This area is the site of the discovery of a 4,000 year old Native American habitation exposed by shoreline retreat. It is also a good area to hike along the outer beach, and observe long-shore transport of sand (through wind and wave action), coastal erosion, and dune building barrier beach processes. Wayside exhibits outside the former Coast Guard Station help to tell these stories.

Nauset Light Beach


One mile north of Coast Guard Beach on Ocean View Drive in Eastham.


Watch out for bicyclists and walkers.


Restrooms open seasonally.

Note For Educators:

This area is the first visible portion of the glacial scarp (cliff) that drains from east to west between Eastham and Truro. This is a good place to conduct studies on marine communications, (French cable operation and lighthouses) and coastal erosion.

Salt Pond and Nauset Marsh


At the second stoplight in Eastham, turn right off Route 6 (look for brown and white Visitor Center sign).


Observe posted speed limits (this section of road can be congested at times). Do not unload at Visitor Center main walkway use designated parking spaces.


Restrooms available year round.

Note For Educators:

The Salt Pond, Nauset Marsh, and Buttonbush Trails are adjacent to the Visitor Center. Plan on one to 1 1/2 hours to walk them. The outdoor amphitheater is a good spot for lunch (please recycle and securely bag all trash).

Salt Pond is a forty-foot deep glacial kettle hole that has been breached by the sea, hence it is a tidal saltwater body. The margins of the pond offer a broad and stable wrack line that it is easy to walk on and allows for close-up observation of salt marsh grasses, flats and edge communities.

Town of Eastham, MA

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