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Waterfront Living on the Cape: Oceanfront, Bayside, or Alongside a Pond?
Cape Cod optimizes New England's beauty. Settling on the Cape offers amazing views of waterfronts, find out which one is right for you.
So when you consider where you want to settle on the Cape, you’re going to want to consider the different amenities each area has to offer. Naturally, one of the first features to consider is water.
Water is bound to be nearby wherever you go on the Cape, and there are three main types of water to consider: the ocean (including the sound), the bay, and the many saltwater, freshwater, and kettle ponds – numbering close to 1,000 – that dapple the landscape. Fortunately for homebuyers looking to relocate or buy a vacation home on the Cape, there is real estate available near each of these. So, what’s the best fit for you?
You should start by asking yourself what your motivation is. Do you enjoy a pretty view? Peace and quiet? Lots of activity? What kind of water sports do you most enjoy? Swimming? Boating? Fishing? Kayaking? Tubing? Is proximity to the mainland or islands important to you?
When people think of the Cape, most think of the ocean. Of course, Cape Cod is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Cod Bay – not to mention Buzzards Bay and Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds. So what are the differences in these waterfronts?
Along the eastern shoreline of the Cape in towns like Chatham, you’ll find beaches with soft, white sand and surf conditions that range from gently rolling waves to crashing whitecaps. The water can be pretty chilly. The scenery, from nature preserves to lighthouses, is nothing short of breathtaking.
Cape Cod Bay beaches on the northern side of the Cape offer mild surf, tidal pools, and sand mixed with pebbly tide lines. This is an excellent area for beachcombing, with lots of good beaches for kids. It’s a good idea to keep track of tides, which recede across large expanses, only to return quickly with rapidly rising water levels.
Watersports abound on Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds and on Buzzards Bay on the southern and western shores of the Cape. Sand might not be quite as pristine as in other areas, but the gentle surf befits activities like windsurfing and kayaking. The atmosphere is generally family-friendly and water temperatures are pleasant in the summertime.
But the beaches that rim the Cape aren’t home to the only waterfront property available. Of the numerous ponds, about 20 account for almost half of the pond acreage. Many of the smaller ponds have private access. From the saltwater inlet of Oyster Pond in Chatham to trout-stocked freshwater ponds like Scargo Lake in Dennis, Cape ponds are as varied as they are numerous.
Ponds have different restrictions regarding swimming and boating. For example, Santuit Pond in Mashpee allows the use of kayaks, canoes, sail boats, motor boats, and power boats, but jet-skis and waterskiing are allowed only between 10:00 AM and 7:00 PM. However, there are no gas-powered engines allowed on any of the ponds in Yarmouth, so boating is more restricted on Dennis Pond.
With so many bodies of water, fishing on the Cape offers everything from game fish to freshwater species to oysters and clams. If fishing is your passion, you’ll want to look into the various species native to each of the many ponds and ocean fishing areas. Permits and licenses are necessary for freshwater, saltwater, and shellfish fishing and are generally available in the town that holds jurisdiction over each pond or beach.
For those who enjoy sailing, you’ll find moorings at marinas around the Cape, but will need to check the availability, as many have wait lists. Likewise, you’ll want to research the location and accessibility of boat ramps.
Beaches in Massachusetts can be public or private, so you’ll want to familiarize yourself with which nearby beaches will be available to you if you purchase property on or near the waterfront, and how you should go about getting the necessary stickers to display in parking areas. If you have small children, you may want to consider whether the nearest beaches employ part- or full-time lifeguards.
You can hardly go wrong living on or near any waterfront on the Cape. Before you start your property search, make sure you know what your priorities are. You’re sure to find something that suits your lifestyle.