The Beach Times

Walking Across the Provincetown Causeway
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, June 22, 2020

As you explore downtown Provincetown during your Cape Cod vacation, there's a good chance you'll end up at First Landing Park, a site commemorating the arrival of the Pilgrims on the Cape in 1620.

The park is full of plaques and markers, making it a great place to check out if you're interested in learning some of America's oldest history.

You'll have outstanding views of Provincetown Harbor from the park, and when you head across the street, you'll see a rock wall jetting into the water.

This wall is the Provincetown Causeway, and it extends across the bay to a section of secluded beach near the Wood End Lighthouse. You can walk the entire causeway, which is a little over a mile long, putting you on one of the Cape's best-kept secrets.

Here's what you should know about this area before you walk the Provincetown Causeway.

Where to Park

If your vacation rental is in the downtown Provincetown area, you're best off walking to the park to begin your hike.

For those staying a little further away, there's street parking at the causeway, although it's quite limited. Another option is the West End Parking Lot on Commercial Street.

Overall, Provincetown is a challenging place to find parking. Still, the West End is often the least-busy section because most of the town's bars and restaurants are closer to MacMillan Pier.

The Walk

The hike across the Provincetown Causeway is surprisingly challenging because you'll be walking across boulders the entire time. You'll have to watch your footing as you travel, and keep in mind that there isn't any shade, so you'll want to dress accordingly.

Enjoy the views as you walk along the causeway because you'll see Provincetown in an entirely different way. You can observe the entire harbor once you get out there, in addition to beaches, marshes, and lighthouses. This hike isn't something to take with your kids, but you'll surely get a lot out of it if you go with a spouse or friends.

Things to Look For

In addition to the scenery, keep an eye out for wildlife as you cross the breakwater. The area closest to the shore is an accessible shellfishing location, so you'll likely see clams, quahogs, and oysters when you begin.

Depending on the tide, you could see hermit crabs and starfish between the rocks, and a variety of birds carrying fish overhead, as well.

There are also seals in the waters here, which are always a thrill for travelers who get to see them. 

The Beaches at the Other End

As you complete your journey across the Provincetown Causeway, you'll notice a lengthy expanse of beach on the other side. The end of this hike is one of the most rewarding on Cape Cod because you'll come across miles of empty beaches on which to spread out and enjoy the serenity.

Heading northeast, you'll encounter Long Point Beach, which has golden sand overlooking both Provincetown Harbor and Cape Cod Bay. If you walk far enough, you'll also reach Long Point Light Station, offering panoramic views of the entire harbor.

As a bonus, you can take the Long Point Shuttle back to Provincetown from this beach, so you won't have to walk over the breakwater again. It's $15 for a one-way ticket, and you'll buy it onboard. Keep in mind that the boat is cash-only; bring money if you'd like a lift back to the mainland.

Heading northwest from the Provincetown Causeway takes you to the Wood End Lighthouse and the beach surrounding it. You can walk on the dunes on this beach until you find a secluded spot or, if you're bursting with energy, walk the sands up to Herring Cove Beach. 

The pathway to Herring Cove will probably take you a couple of hours to complete, but you'll be within walking distance of downtown Provincetown at the end.

No matter which option you choose, you're sure to enjoy your time on this secluded section of sand that's away from the crowds of downtown Provincetown.

Watch for the Tide

Before embarking on your hike, look at the tide chart to ensure you'll return before the water rises.

That's because, at high tide, water covers part of the Provincetown Causeway, leaving it impossible to cross.

If you end up on the beach-side of the causeway at high tide, your only options are to wait for the waters to recede or make the hike through Herring Cove Beach, both of which will leave you stranded for hours.

The good news is that the tide is usually out in the afternoon when you'd likely go, but always check the tide chart before setting foot on the breakwater.

A Great Day in Provincetown

The Provincetown Causeway was built in 1911 to prevent shifting dunes from creating a beach and destroying nearby marshland. It has done its job ever since, as the marsh is still a valuable ecosystem for local wildlife.

The breakwater has since become a popular attraction for visitors because of its scenic views and the access it provides to the Cape's most secluded beaches. 

When spending time in Provincetown, heading over the causeway is well worth the effort because the payoff at the end is something you won't experience anywhere else. 

Pilgrims Provincetown

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