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Boater’s Destination: Falmouth Harbor

Knowledgeable skippers have long made Falmouth Harbor one of their main ports of call on Cape Cod. There are plenty of reasons: the harbor itself, a rectangle carved out of a series of salt ponds back in 1907, is well-protected from the elements, calm and quiet.

Located at the far southwestern end of Cape Cod’s famous bent-arm, Falmouth is an ideal jumping off spot for visits to the islands: the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard arrives and departs in Falmouth Harbor, and boaters can easily explore the Elizabeth Islands which extend along the south of Buzzards Bay. The Cape Cod Canal and the pretty towns of Bourne, Onset, Marion and Mattapoisett are all close at hand.

Fishermen make Falmouth home, as well. The fleet of charter boats leaving Falmouth Harbor early every morning are run by captains who know where the striped bass, blues and tuna wait off the islands. 

There’s plenty to explore in and around town, and the Falmouth beaches nearby are considered some of the best on the entire Cape.

Boating In

The entrance of Falmouth Harbor (identified on most charts as “Falmouth Inner Harbor”) is accessed through a narrow cut in the sandy coast, opening up into a dredged rectangular harbor lined on both sides by marinas and slips. There are a limited number of moorings on the eastern side of the harbor.

Falmouth Harbor is shared by several commercial marinas offering transient slips to overnighters. Some require two-night stays during the summer season. It’s always a good idea to call and reserve in advance to avoid disappointment.

Visiting boaters can tie-up to the town float in the extreme northwest corner of the harbor for up to 2 hours. Max. boat size is 25’. Downtown Falmouth is a 10-minute walk.

Marinas offering dockage, moorage and services include:

Falmouth Marine (508-548-4600): On west side of harbor, just north of the inlet. Offers transient dockage, fuel, TraveLift, pumpout, restrooms, engine and hull repair and more.

North Marine (508-457-7000): Near head of harbor on east bank. Service, repair, and storage, but no transient slips.

Pier 37 (508-540-0123): Rack storage and valet facility on west bank of harbor, next to launch ramp. On-site restaurant and fuel dock.

Falmouth Town Marina: On west side of harbor, just south of the Pier 37 facility. Offers transient slips to 45’; 30-day max. stay in July/Aug. Slips have water, cable and electric. Pumpout available. Restrooms with showers available.

East Marine was built in 1952 and offers dockage up to 50ft, inside and outside winter storage, mechanical services, and cleaning/waxing services. This marina is also home to one of the sales offices of Oyster Harbors Marine.

Shoreside

There’s plenty to do and see ashore in Falmouth Harbor, most of it an easy walk from the boat slips along the waterfront.

Restaurants:

Jim’s Clam Shack (508-540-7758) is, as the name suggests, a classic Cape Cod clamshack, with rustic counter service and picnic tables outside under the roof deck. It’s located on the west shore just north of the inlet.

Flying Bridge (508-548-2700) offers wonderful views across the harbor from its location on the western short right in the middle of all the marinas. Simple, classic seafood fare, cocktails, indoor and outdoor seating.

The Boathouse at Pier 37 (508-388-7573).  With live music, DJs, pub grub and cocktails, this place rocks the night away overlooking the boats in the harbor. 

The British Beer Company (508-540-9600) is a pub-like restaurant, located a few short blocks from the harbor in Falmouth Heights. Great selection of beers and comfort food from both sides of the Atlantic.

Things to See and Do:

Highfield Hall and Gardens (508-495-1878). Once a summer home for a wealthy Boston family, Highfield Hall is now a renovated museum that houses art exhibitions and music performances and offers 400 acres of both manicured formal gardens and open natural space to wander in and enjoy. Small admission to see the house.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (508-289-2252). The world’s largest non-profit oceanographic research institution maintains a visitor’s center and changing exhibitions showcasing the institute’s working projects from around the world. Visitor’s center, aquarium and walking tours offered.

Nobska Lighthouse (233 Nobska Road, Woods Hole Village) dates from 1828 and was one of the first lighthouses on Cape Cod to install a Fresnel lens. The grounds of the lighthouse are open for visitors and a limited number of tours up to the light itself are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays in July.

Beaches near Falmouth:

Falmouth Heights Beach. Just outside town along Grand Avenue, this lovely sand beach is popular and crowded during the summer months.

Old Silver Beach.  Located in West Falmouth, more on Buzzards Bay than Nantucket Sound, this beach offers sugary white sand, warmer water and a snack bar.

Wood Neck Beach on Sippewisset Road on Buzzards Bay, is quiet and less crowded, and offers a sandy beach with some rocky outcroppings.

Chapoquoit Beach in West Falmouth is on Chapoquoit Point overlooking Buzzards Bay. Warm water, white sand.

Bristol Beach is on Menauhunt Road in East Falmouth on Nantucket Sound. The surf is moderate here, there are a series of stone jetties and there’s plenty of parking.

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