Experience Chatham

From sunset glow tours on a stand-up paddle board to sailing along the waters of Nantucket Sound, here are some outdoor activities to quench your thirst for adventure.

By Rob Duca

Chatham offers an endless array of activities that are guaranteed to pique your curiosity and get your heart rate pumping. Whether it’s deep sea fishing, surfing, a shark excursion, sailing, stand-up paddle boarding or brisk strolls along wooded walking trails, experiencing Chatham can take many forms. Located on the elbow of Cape Cod, Chatham is known for its dramatic coastal setting. Visitors come for the dazzling beaches, the breathtaking sunsets, the boutique shops, art galleries and a multitude of things to do in the water or on land.

IMG_1595Sailing Away

What could be more relaxing than a sunset sail along the peaceful waters of Nantucket Sound? Feel the wind in your face and smell the salt air as you explore the Cape’s beautiful coastline. Drew Meincke, owner and captain of Son of a Sailor, has been exploring the local waters since he was 14. For an exhilarating racing experience, sail with Meincke aboard the appropriately named Adrenaline. This state-of-the-art J/97 combines sailing performance with plenty of comfort. When the Adrenaline gets rolling, you’ll feel like you’re competing in an America’s Cup race. And Meincke knows how to go fast; he has raced in the Newport to Bermuda Regatta, the Figawi Regatta and numerous other local events. The boat accommodates up to six passengers. Guests can even take the helm, under the supervision of the captain, of course. Sailing lessons are also available. The Adrenaline departs from Stage Harbor.

Son of a Sailor is located at Stage Harbor Marine. 

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Stand Up and Work Out

Looking to work your leg muscles and strengthen your core? Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) could be the answer. SUP has become all the rage in recent years for folks seeking to combine exercise with fun on the water. Paddleboarding began in the 1950s when Hawaiian surf instructors would stand on their surfboards to take photographs of ????????????????????????????????????their students. When world-class surfer Laird Hamilton reintroduced the sport in the early 2000s, paddleboarding exploded in popularity.

Done properly, SUP is like walking on water. It is ideal for gliding along a glassy pond, a slow river or even in light ocean surf. “There really isn’t that much you need to know,” says Justin Labdon, owner of Adventure Chatham. “There is definitely a sweet spot on the board that’s the best spot for balance. But for general family fun and just going out to the pond and paddling around, it’s a quick learning curve.” The amount of exercise is up to the paddler. “I like to compare it to biking, which can be either leisurely or strenuous, depending on how much effort you put into it,” Labdon says. “It develops core body strength. Going into the wind and waves is even more of a challenge.” Adventure Chatham rents stand up paddleboards, along with kayaks, bikes and other adventure gear. Their newest toy is an 18-foot board called “SUPSquatch” that holds 12 adults and even more children.  Guided tours are a wonderful way to experience the Cape’s waters and abundant wildlife. Paddle-boarders glide along the scenic coastline, past serene kettle ponds and to remote barrier beaches, where native plants, birds and marine life come into view. Be sure to check out the company’s sunset glow tours!

Adventure Chatham, 1150 Old Queen Anne Road, Chatham/Harwich town line


Get Hooked

The waters east of Chatham offer some of the best, most consistent fishing in the Northeast. Fishermen can land 250-pound bluefin tuna CSF7from June through November, while the season for hooking striped bass runs from May through October. Fish Chatham Charters, Coastline Sport Fishing and Chatham Sportfishing all operate in town, taking customers to a variety of fishing spots. Excursions depart from Oyster River and explore Monomoy, Nantucket Sound and Pleasant Bay. If you’d like to venture a bit farther offshore, Chatham Sport Fishing offers charters for two, three and four hours aboard a Boston Whaler. Captain Bruce Coburn has been fishing the waters in and around Chatham for 25 years and specializes in striped bass, bluefish and tuna.

Coastline Sport Fishing, 35 Barn Hill Lane; Chatham Sport Fishing, 10 Aire Lane

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Jaws Drop-In

The great white shark that sent shivers down the spines of beachgoers in the 1970s blockbuster movie “Jaws” was actually a mechanical toy. But real-life sharks have been spotted off the coast of Chatham in recent years, and now tourists can get an up-close peek at these legendary predators. Last summer, Chatham Bars Inn added something extra for guests to go along with five-star dining, lodging, ocean views and a golf course. In partnership with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC), the inn offers guests four ways to satisfy their shark curiosity while helping scientists learn more about this intriguing predator. The top offering is “Research Trips,” where tourists join scientists on a research vessel for a full day as they attempt to track, photograph and even tag a great white shark. There’s no guarantee of seeing a shark, but 68 great whites were identified in the summer of 2014. It is costly, however, running $2,500 per couple. Trips are held from April to October via special arrangement.

Credit Atlantic White Shark Conservancy - photo 2

A less expensive option is the “Receiver Excursions,” which begins in early July and is only $50 per person. Resort guests explore the harbor with a shark researcher. Members of the AWSC host a one-hour morning charter for up to 17 guests on the Chatham Bars Inn’s private boat, Bartender. The trip takes guests to sandbars where grey seals gather and where they look for evidence of predation, and then to “shark cove,” where a shark receiver is hauled up for analysis.

Other options are complimentary “Research Debriefs,” which take place every Monday and Thursday after research vessels dock at the resort. Guests gather at the inn’s Beach House restaurant and bar to hear about the day’s work from scientists and their research crew. Finally, there are individually scheduled “Group Lectures,” hosted by high level AWSC staffers and aimed at meeting and conference groups.

Chatham Bars Inn, 297 Shore Road, Chatham


Walks on the Wild Side

Nature trails that take walkers past beaches, meadows, marsh and wetlands are popular Chatham destination activities. The Chatham Conservation Foundation is dedicated to the preservation of these pristine areas. Nearly 600 acres are preserved by the foundation. barclay5Three popular walking trails are the Frost Fish Creek Trail, the Barclay Ponds Trail and Honeysuckle Lane, located off Stage Harbor Road. Walkers will take woodsy strolls past marshes and ponds, while viewing multiple varieties of wildlife. The nearby Monomoy Wildlife Sanctuary is a mecca for bird enthusiasts. Nearly every bird species from New England has been recorded in this area. The island can be reached via car or a short boat ride from Chatham.

So if you’re visiting Chatham, there are many options beyond lazy days lounging at the beach or antique shopping. Adrenalin junkies will find plenty of activities in this quaint, picturesque town that are certain to satisfy their quest for adventure.

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