A Cuttyhunk Island Massachusetts Day Trip
One of the most tranquil places in the Cape Cod area is the small island of Cuttyhunk. Separated from the Cape by the other privately owned islands in the string of Elizabeth Islands, Cuttyhunk Island is only accessible by boat. Visitors can take a ferry or water taxi from New Bedford on the mainland or from Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard. Others arrive at the shielded harbor on the east end of the island on everything from small fishing and sail boats to luxury yachts.
When you disembark, you can quickly explore the island’s only town of Gosnold on foot. With less than 50 year-round residents, and a population of only about 500 in the summer months, it’s a quiet place. Gosnold has just a few inns, fewer shops, and no liquor stores. Cars, nightlife and wi-fi are equally sparse, which is precisely why many people make the trip to Cuttyhunk Island. The island’s two inns, the Fishing Club, and the Avalon, are both former homes turned bed and breakfast. Their quaint and cozy rooms and shared common spaces contribute to an almost camp-like atmosphere.
The town market has just the basics. In the summer months, there may also be a few food carts, a deli, and even an ice cream stand serving refreshments. The main attraction is the fish dock with its raw bar, clam bakes, and fresh fish and lobster for sale. If you time your visit right, you’ll catch the Garfield family’s floating raw bar delivering shucked clams and oysters to boaters spending the week or weekend. The Garfields use the island’s West End Pond to raise their Belon Oysters which are now known as Cuttyhunk Oysters, and as the finest shellfish in Buzzards Bay.
Next, visit the Cuttyhunk Historical Society’s Museum of the Elizabeth Islands on Tower Hill Road to learn about the history and culture of the Elizabeth Islands. The museum’s rotating exhibits offer something different to see each time you visit, teaching visitors about the Wampanoag people, the island’s historic whaling residents, the Cuttyhunk fishing clubs for wealthy businessmen, and the importance of the Elizabeth Islands during World War II. The museum also has a gift shop where you can pick up a Cuttyhunk souvenir to commemorate your adventure.
Besides the town of Gosnold and the harbor, Cuttyhunk offers almost 600 acres to explore. Much of the west side of the island is a nature preserve with trails open to hiking and bicycling and stripped-down Coast Guard bunkers from World War II serving as picnic areas. Nature lovers can spend hours exploring the trails and you may even encounter some of the island’s wildlife while you’re at it. There are deer, rabbit, and the occasional coyote on the island, as well as plenty of birds for avid birdwatchers to enjoy.
And while you’re on the island, be sure to visit Church’s Beach (also known as Churches Beach) for one of the best beachgoing experiences on the Cape. Located on a narrow sandy arm between Cuttyhunk Pond and Buzzards Bay, Churches Beach has open water and waves to the west and harbor views to the east. Along the beach, eelgrass provides a home for abundant sea life and striped bass frequent the rocky reefs just offshore. More stretches of sandy beach line the other shores of Cuttyhunk, separated by a few cliffs and rocky areas, but Church’s Beach is by far the most popular.
If you’re ready to get away from it all for a day, Cuttyhunk Island awaits. Try flyfishing along the shore, wander the trails, comb the beaches for treasure, or simply enjoy the spectacular views. A Cuttyhunk day trip is a wonderful way to disconnect from the stress and chaos of everyday life.