Saturday, March 23, 2013

First Encounter Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

I've blogged a few posts earlier in admiration of some of the beautiful beaches in my wife's home country, the Philippines, such as Boracay and a few of the beach resorts on Mactan Island in Cebu.  This time, I decided to showcase a gorgeous beach here in the U.S.  Last summer, when we took our family trip to New York City, we also toured Cape Cod, Massachusetts a few days later.   Cape Cod is a narrow "elbow" or "hook" of land in the northeast part of the U.S. that extends quite far out into the Atlantic Ocean from the mainland part of Massachusetts, forming a "protected" bay called Cape Cod Bay.  The area of Cape Cod, while small in comparison to the rest of the U.S., contains some really interesting history and great beauty, and is a famous tourist area for those wishing to enjoy the beaches, watch whales (I will post about our Cape Cod whale-watching tour soon), and much more.    

Cape Cod offers gorgeous beaches on its east side facing the open ocean.  However, these ocean-side beaches have a few drawbacks -- namely the water temperature is cold even in the summer, the current can be tricky with experienced adults and treacherous with little kids.  Perfect beaches for experienced body boarders and surfers and swimmers who like big surf, but maybe not the best for folks with little kids or non-swimmers.  Also, (very unlikely but...) there was a great white shark attack last summer near Truro, Massachusetts, just before we went there.  This latter incident is due to a large extent to new laws that protect seals in the area -- more prey for the sharks.   Given these factors and mainly the fact that we wanted a warmer place to swim, we made the trip of just a few miles/kilometers across the narrow strip of land that is Cape Cod to travel from the eastern shore to the western shore.    The western shore looks inland toward Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the beaches here (near Eastham, Massachusetts) enjoy the much warmer water of Cape Cod Bay, much smaller surf and waves, hardly any current and no dangerous rip-tide, and no sharks.

The beach we chose, First Encounter Beach, was recommended to us by the lady who owned the hotel at which we were staying.  It got that name because the English "Pilgrims" who first colonized that area of what was to become the U.S. landed on Cape Cod in 1620, and first encountered the Native American tribe called the Nauset tribe at this very beach.  It was a fantastic recommendation, and we all enjoyed it so much.   We arrived late in the afternoon, and decided to stay late until after sunset (maybe 8:30 PM or so) because we just wanted to rest and relax after making a pretty long drive that day.   

The beach is amazing in its beauty, and there are cute little typical cedar-shake (wood shingled) Cape Cod cottages built on top of the sand dunes that overlook green reeds growing in the tidal flats. After doing some swimming with Mommy and Daddy, our daughter quickly discovered (and we were stunned to see) the amount of tiny little hermit crabs that were so active right at the shore line... she loves swimming, but became much more interested in investigating and catching the little critters.  She had so much fun catching these little creatures in a plastic cup (all of them were later returned to their natural habitat unharmed)!  

Typical Cape Cod cottages at First Encounter Beach
Crab catching

Clamshell, First Encounter Beach
Sand dune at First Encounter Beach, low tide

Historical marker at First Encounter Beach

Lots of little hermit crabs!

Father-daughter crab catching expedition in the tidal streams

Big fun at First Encounter Beach

Diggin' for crabs

As the afternoon progressed and the sun dipped lower in the sky, the tide gradually went out.  The tidal flats became amazing at low tide, with long extended sandbars that you could walk on very far out into what was earlier the water.   The rippled patterns and texture of the sandbars had an appearance almost like what you would expect to see on the surface of Mars.  

Low tide -- can't swim here anymore 

"Mars-scape":  footprints in the sandbar  at First Encounter Beach

Undulating ribbed patterns in the sandbars at low tide

Sandbar at low tide 

Green reeds, sand bars, and sea gulls

There was a tidal stream that flowed through and around these sand bars and the green reeds, and many tiny crabs and little creatures were in these waters. We spent hours and hours enjoying this, and we enjoyed it so much that we had to go back again the second day.   We saw a barnacle-encrusted horseshoe crab, which judging by the amount of them on its back was pretty old (I suppose).  It was interesting to watch how it propelled itself in the water and how it made tracks in the sand.  

Checking out the horseshoe crab - lots of barnacles on his back!

Ancient barnacle-encrusted horseshoe crab

Cup full of crabs

Certified Cape Cod crab catcher

Family photo on the sandbar
Mommy checking out the tidal streams

Catching critters
Cottages at First Encounter Beach just before sunset

The tide is getting lower

The setting sun and the sunset itself was absolutely spectacular, and my wife made sure to capture some great photos of the setting sun.   We had a wonderful time, and all of us would love to go back there again!


Kids catching crabs on the sandbar
Looking west toward Plymouth, Massachusetts

Finding little creatures

Checking out the sandbar

Crabs in the cup

The low tide sandbars extend far from the shoreline

Someone else's little girl carrying a pail

This is the track made by the horseshoe crab
Someone else's little girl playing frisbee... or is she pointing at a UFO??!!
Yeah, I think it's a frisbee
Remember that famous old black and white faked film footage of Bigfoot -- oh, wait, that's just me.  

Final seconds before sunset

Our favorite star

Digging in the tidal sands
Me stomping around trying to find treasure in the sand

Me at First Encounter Beach - beam me up, Scotty! 

Hunting for crabs in the setting sun
Taking flight at as the sun drops lower

Glaring waters under the setting sun

Sunset at First Encounter


  1. the sunset is so beautiful. i usually don't enjoy low tide, but looks like your daughter gave me a bright idea what to do on a low tide.

    1. Hi Phioxee,

      Thanks so much for stopping by! It's fun to get these ideas from the kids, and maybe you'll find something really exciting next time at low tide, huh? :-) Kids always find a way of making their own fun I suppose, even if they don't have a toy.

      Take care!

  2. Great pictures! You have a beautiful family. I just booked a Cape Cod rental for our family vacation this year. We have never been to Cape Cod before but it sounds and looks like an amazing place. I hope we get a sunset like that. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Lauren,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind compliment! I hope you have a wonderful trip to Cape Cod with your family. I am certain you will really enjoy it. This was our first trip to Cape Cod as a family too, it is a beautiful place. I suspect you will get a nice sunset like this at some point in time during your trip to the Cape, and I hope you will. All the best!

  3. Hi Buzz L! The First Encounter Beach is simply gorgeous! The sunset is spectacular! I love looking at your photos over and over again especially those lovely images against the setting sun.
    Your little lady obviously have enjoyed exploring the low tide sand for the amazing little creatures that looks aplenty.

    My heart melts every time I see beautiful beaches such as this! Let alone with beautiful people like you and family!

    Blessings to you and your two lovelies!

    1. Hello Beng Gee!

      Great to hear from you as always, and thank you so much for stopping by! It really is a gorgeous beach, but you certainly have no lack of them there in the Philippines! I am happy that you enjoyed the photos so much... I could never have done that photography, so the credits are all due to my wife (with the exception the photos where she is in the picture). Yes, our daughter sure enjoyed exploring the low tide sand for all of the little creatures.

      I am delighted that you enjoyed this post, and thank you so much for your kind compliments!

      Blessings also to you and your lovely family as well, and Happy Easter to you!

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  5. The photos you have taken were magnificent! You have a keen eye for photography since the place itself was lovely.

    Thank you for visiting my blog. I am your new follower as well and I hope to read more of your posts in the future :)

    1. Thank you, Farida, and for stopping by! The photos were mainly taken by my wife (except for the ones I take of her); I'm not too skilled of a photographer. I followed you as well and also look forward to reading more of your posts.

  6. Replies
    1. Hi Bicolanang Lakwatsera,

      Thanks for stopping by! Will stop by your blog soon to catch up.

  7. The sunset is LOVE! And your daughter is gorge! :)

    1. Hi Mikie,

      Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and for your kind compliment! Looking forward to checking out your blog further!

  8. Nothing I love to do in this world is sit on the beach with your love ones and watch the sunrise or sunset...I love that UFO girl photo...:) or IFO * Identified flying object* :)

    1. Thanks, Cecille! My wife got all of those sunset photos, including the IFO!

      I agree with you totally, the beach is a truly special place to sit and watch the sunrise or sunset with loved ones. Interestingly, I have very specific rock and pop songs from my youth that I definitely associate with "the beach" and the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of the beach.

  9. LOL---after so many attempt I managed to type in the right Captcha!! :)

    1. You're not kidding... half the time I can't even read them LOL! Even with my glasses on!

  10. I love all your photos.. I actually is using the girls playing Frisbee as a essay image


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