Every summer for the last seven years we've spent a week or two on beautiful Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I've come to love the Cape and my dream is to buy our own house there to stay at when we go back East to visit our families. But for now, we rent a house, usually in a different area to get a feel for what the various towns are like for when we do buy. Last summer we rented a house in the lovely town of Brewster, which is on the bay side of the Cape (meaning it's on the side that faces up toward Boston instead of the side that faces down into the rest of the Atlantic Ocean where the next pieces of land are islands in the Caribbean). Beaches on the bay side tend to be more calm, and we found the perfect beach for exploring and for children in Brewster. I don't remember the specific name of this beach, but I think it was part of Paine's Creek Beach, which stretches along the coast in Brewster. In any case, I know exactly where it is for when we return!
The reason this beach is so awesome is because of the tides there. When we arrived, it was a regular beach, but as time went on, the water started to recede more and more, leaving the ocean floor completely visible. Also, the water at low tide is very calm since its being pulled slowly and gently out to sea, which is perfect for little kids. I was able to walk far out into the ocean with the water only going up as high as my knees, which made it easy to bring my non-waterproof camera and take pictures. My 1-year-old was able to do the same thing (minus the camera)--walking far out all on his own, on wet sand that is usually covered by ocean water.
It was the perfect place for a child (and adult!) to explore the ocean floor. It was one of the coolest experiences ever, and I can't wait to go back there again this summer. The trick is going at the right time though. If you're not there at low tide, it's just another (lovely) Cape beach, as you will see in some of the pictures below. But if you're lucky enough to be there at low tide, the mysteries of the ocean will be revealed to you! Well, some of them anyway.
When we got to the beach that day, the water had already receded enough to reveal the green grass that usually lays below its surface. We had no idea that the water was going to be receding a lot more than that in the next hour or two!
Hunting for hermit crabs in the shallow water was a popular activity and one that John enthusiastically and quickly embraced. That's Peter, John, and John's cousin Lizzie in the picture there. It doesn't look like they're at the beach (where's the water!?), but they are!
Calm, shallow water + Lots of rocks = Heaven for Sam
John collected hermit crabs and Sam collected rocks. What a great place for little boys!
This is one of my favorite pictures from the whole summer. I picked up this little guy and he peeked out just as I took the picture. Perfect timing! What a cooperative little crab.
Meanwhile the water was receding more and more and revealing more of the ocean floor.
Peter stayed with the kids as they looked for crabs and rocks while I took a walk out into the ocean with my camera. These are just a few of the (many!) shots I got.
Looking out to the shallow sea:
Clear, shallow water
In the picture above, you can see the sandbar just under the water. People were out there sitting on chairs. Pretty soon it was just sand because the water was gone.
And a little later, these sailboats were sitting on the sand instead of the water. (Keep reading to see!)
I went back to shore and by then the kids were ready for their walk out into the ocean. It was an amazing experience to walk out so far onto the huge ocean floor, especially with a little toddler!
Talk about a rocky shore! At first the walk was very rocky, as you can see here, but after that it was mostly wet, smooth sand.
We were out really far! I'm bad at judging distances, but I think we may have been about 1/3 of a mile out.
My little Sam man, out by himself on the ocean floor.
We let the hermit crabs out. John caught so many of them. They look like rocks, but those are all crabs skittering away!
These oyster cages were revealed once the tide went out more. So that's where they keep those!
I managed to get a picture of this big crab before it burrowed into the sand to hide itself.
A family picture of us out to sea. Sam just wanted to get down and play.
Going for a jog. Why not?
Playing on the sea floor. Again, why not?
This is what it looked like looking out to sea. There were people out way further than us. Low tide is really amazing!
And the picture below was looking back to shore. We were pretty far out and decided to start walking back.
See the boats, sitting on the sand!? I was amazed! (There's a better picture of this further below.)
If a person were to come to this beach hoping for a great swim and lots of waves, they'd be very disappointed! At least if they came at low tide.
We returned the next day with Peter's sister and her four kids, and the tide was out even more than when we'd been there the day before. Here's Sam again, walking on the sand way out far from the shore. Remember that at high tide this is covered by several feet of water!
Not the prettiest view of the ocean (what ocean?) I've ever seen. But definitely the most unique!
John collected hermit crabs again in his bucket of water. They were harder to find because there wasn't very much water. We really didn't even need to be in our swimsuits.
Boats and buoys, sitting on the sand:
Oystas! (written with a Boston accent)
To think that we had walked out so far into that water a few days earlier, and now John could only go in a few feet! But he didn't mind--he loved playing in the water. This beach seriously has the best of both worlds. Just not at the same time!
Pretty neat, huh? Needless to say, I loved this beach. We'll go back again this summer, and hopefully we'll catch it at low tide and maybe another time at high tide. At low tide it's great for exploring and walking in; at high tide it's fun for swimming in.
Since this post is already nice and long, I don't feel bad posting a few more pictures of the scenery that I took there...
I took these in the field right behind the beach: