Woods Hole, MA
You certainly won't want to miss this village where academics, fishermen, and yachtsmen share their love for the sea
One of the most challenging tidal harbors to negotiate, Wood's Hole offers access to the world's finest marine biological and oceanographic resources. As a postgraduate studies center, its academic roots make the town rather stimulating. There is a great aquarium, the Marine Biological Laboratory, Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institute, Woods Hole Research Center, the US Geological Survey center, the SEA Education Association, a film festival, the ferry to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, whalewatching expeditions and countless other fun activities. It's a colorful strolling village where fishermen, scientists, and yachtsmen rub elbows, learn from each other, and share their love for the sea. We love this place. View the great collection of the museum's historical photos.
Where to tie up:
Wood's Hole does have a hellish current running through it, so we advise you to check the tide and current tables before approaching so you don't get swept away and squirted out the wrong way. If the tide is against you, you might consider waiting it out in Hadley Harbor. One time, our club passed through Wood's Hole from Martha's Vineyard en route to Hadley Harbor. It was foggy, the current was running at maximum, we had about 30 boats in procession, and several were swept well into the channel where a ferry was fast approaching. Luckily, there were no mishaps, but it pays to be vigilant.
Another time, we had a terrific transit through the Hole and picked up a mooring at the Woods Hole Yacht Club. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here. It's a simple place, rather rustic compared to some establishments of its kind. But we had hot showers, and a great chat with an "older" salt in front of the clubhouse with a lovely view of the harbor. Unfortunately, they don't have a website but they have a phone and you can call to get the lay of the land in advance.
There are three basic places to hang out in Woods Hole: at anchor in Hadleys Harbor, on a mooring at the Yacht Club, and at Woods Hole Marine, which offers transient slips and moorings, Shuckers Bar for lunch, and a location that's just a skip from Water Street - the main drag in town.
What to do:
This tiny Cape town has a global reputation. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, best known for discovering the Titanic, is the largest independent oceanography lab in the country. The Marine Biological Laboratory, brings even more scientists and discoveries to this corner of the world. It’s not surprising that nine Nobel prizewinners are buried in the yard of the Church of the Messiah. (Q: Do you know the difference between oceanography and marine biology? Look below for the answer.)
There are two aquariums in town. The Wood's Hole Aquarium offers visitors the chance to watch the seals being fed. The Aquarium of the National Marine Fisheries, which opened in 1871, is considered to be the country’s oldest. It displays 16 tanks of regional fish and shellfish. Magnifying glasses and a dissecting scope help you examine marine life, and several hands-on pools hold lobsters and many other sea critters.
The Woods Hole Film Festival is an eight-day showcase of independent film, featuring daily screenings, workshops, panel discussions, staged readings, special events, parties, an awards ceremony, music and more. Now in its 13th year, the festival is usually held the first week of August.
Exhibits change at the small but charming museum Woods Hole Historical Museum, a local labor of love. The permanent 1895 diorama of the town should give you a flavor of this seaport/scientific community and tourist destination's former glory.
The WHOOSH Trolley Service, run by the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (385-8311), runs daily between the Falmouth Mall (off Route 28) and the Aquarium in Woods Hole. The frequency varies during the season; pickups are every 30-60 minutes.
Where to eat:
There are several well established watering holes in town.
(A: Oceanography is the study of all aspects of the ocean: biological, geological, physical and chemical. Marine Biology focuses on the single aspect.)
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