Best Things to Do in Cuttyhunk Island
Cuttyhunk is a public island that sits at the end of the Elizabeth Islands. In the spring and fall, migratory birds often congregate on Cuttyhunk Island, as it’s the first (heading north) or last (heading south) landmass in the bay. As a result, birdwatchers can sometimes spot rare birds, like the painted redstart, in this migration funnel. More common bird sightings on the island include tree swallows, blue jays, the common grackle, and the double-crested cormorant. There is no transportation available for visitors on island so be prepared to walk everywhere. You can even take your bike(s) when traveling by ferry from New Bedford, MA, or via your personal watercraft.
Church’s Beach is a wonderful spot for swimming, paddling and playing in the clear waters of Buzzards Bay. Located on a narrow sandy arm between the main island and the section to the north of Cuttyhunk Pond, Churches Beach has open water and waves to the west and harbor views to the east. Along the beach, eelgrass provides a home for the resident sea life and striped bass frequent the rocky reefs just offshore.
Hike Entire Island and Explore the Old Bunkers from WWII
The west side of Cuttyhunk is a nature preserve with trails open to hiking and bicycling. Three sandy stretches of beach, separated by cliffs and rocky areas, line the shores and stripped-down Coast Guard bunkers from World War II now serve as picnic areas. Nature lovers can spend hours exploring the trails and may even encounter some of the island’s wildlife – deer, rabbit and the occasional coyote, as well as plenty of birds for birdwatchers to enjoy.
Cuttyhunk Historical Society/Museum of the Elizabeth Islands
The Cuttyhunk Historical Society operates the Museum of the Elizabeth Islands, located on Tower Hill Road in Cuttyhunk’s only town of Gosnold. The museum seeks to preserve, share and celebrate the history and culture of the Elizabeth Islands. The museum offers rotating exhibits so there is something different to see each time you visit as well as a gift shop where you can pick up a memento of your Cuttyhunk adventure.
Cuttyhunk Floating Raw Bar
A “Must See” in Cuttyhunk harbor is the “Floating Seafood Raw Bar’ that delivers shucked clams and oysters to boaters spending the week or weekend in this safe harbor during the summer months. The West End pond portion of the harbor is used to raise Belon Oysters which is now known as the Cuttyhunk Oyster. The Garfield family business has continued the tradition of raising the finest shellfish in Buzzards Bay and delivering them to boats and restaurants located in New Bedford and Cape Cod. Be sure to look for the Raw Bar during next summer outing on Cuttyhunk.
Cuttyhunk Pond (Harbor)
Cuttyhunk harbor commonly known as Cuttyhunk Pond sits at the southernmost end of the Elizabeth Islands chain originating from Woods Hole on Cape Cod. There are numerous moorings located in the outer harbor for docking off the port side of Bell 6 upon entry to Cuttyhunk. These moorings are marked by bright white balls. Rental per mooring is $45 for the evening. Cash or check is acceptable. The Harbor lies between Cuttyhunk and Nashawena Island to the east. To the west of the harbor there’s a narrow-dredged channel that leads to the deep-water basin of Cuttyhunk Pond.
Lookout Tower (Park)
“Lookout Hill” sits at the highest point on Cuttyhunk Island – gets its name from its role as a naval lookout during World War II. From up here, soldiers could watch out for any German submarine activity in the surrounding waters. These days, Lookout Park is best enjoyed as a quiet, scenic destination on a summer day trip to Cuttyhunk. A platform was built over the original bunker, providing a sweeping 360-degree view of the surrounding islands, Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean. Bring a lunch to enjoy at one of the picnic tables next to the observation platform, and don’t miss a spectacular sunset here over the water.
Kettle Cove Beach
Naushon (Elizabeth Islands)
Kettle Cove Beach is a secluded cove that is located on the Buzzard Bay side of Naushon Island. If you are a boater looking for a peaceful, safe, and quiet place to anchor and relax, Kettle Cove Beach is the perfect place for a weekend trip. The beach is one of three beaches on Naushon Island that are open to the public. This gesture is a courtesy of the Naushon Island Trust. The only requirement from the trust is that visitors must follow the rules on the posted signs at the beach to help keep the island an unspoiled treasure for all. If you are boating on calm waters, feel free to anchor your boat offshore and drop a line to potentially catch some scup or stripper.
Tarpaulin Cove Beach
Naushon (Elizabeth Islands)
If you are on Cuttyhunk and have access to a boat, you can also explore nearby Naushon Island; one of the islands in the Elizabeth Islands family. Even though the island is privately owned, public visitors are welcome (as a courtesy of the Nashon Island Trust) to visit and enjoy Tarpaulin Cove Beach. You will be able to swim, snorkel, kayak and beachcomb while enjoying the Tarpaulin Cove lighthouse view from the shores of Tarpaulin Cove beach. Please observe and be mindful of the posted rules and do not explore beyond the beach. The Habitat and Wildlife includes oak trees that provide a backdrop to the beach.
You will discover grass-covered dunes that line the backend of the beaches. Inland wildlife include deer, and offshore, you can catch large scups, black seabass, and fluke in summer through early fall while bonito and false albacore migrate past in the fall.
Naushon (Elizabeth Islands)
West Beach is situated along the sandy shores of Naushon Island next to a wildlife rich salt marsh that provides unparallel solitude for living creatures of all types. Naushon is one of the private islands in the string of the Elizabeth islands that welcomes public visitors to the beaches on the island as long as the posted rules are adhered to. All visitors are discouraged from exploring beyond the beach. West Beach makes for a great day trip. You can only get to this public beach by boat only, and you must anchor your boat offshore and swim/kayak through the crystal-clear water to the beach. The cove is located just beyond Robinson Hole.
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