Herring Cove, Provincetown MA
Whether by the misty pastels of dawn, the glare of high noon, or the golden light of twilight, a pilgrimage to Herring Cove, where earth and water and sky merge, is to experience the sublime essence of Cape Cod. By mid-morning, a stream of bicycles flows through Provincetown’s narrow streets merging into a human stream pedaling toward the promise of sun, sand, and sea. You’ll know you’ve arrived by the hundreds of bicycles chained to the split-rail fence on the roadside. Lock your bike and follow the sandy trails (watch out for poison ivy) across the marsh flats to the beach. Lesbians generally encamp nearer the parking lot to the north, while the guys string out in clusters to the south, either on the pebbly beach or in strategic lookouts among the grasses at the dune crests. Though the rangers, who occasionally make morality raids, do not sanction nudity, bathing attire is rarely bothered with, especially the farther south one wanders. Remember, there’s not an iota of shade, so prudently wear a hat, bring a beach umbrella or shade tent, and plenty to drink. The placid cove water is nippy, but on a warm day you’ll dare the invigorating plunge. For a less chilly dip, shuck your suit (if you haven‘t already) and wallow through the shallows of the tidal marsh where there’s birds and crabs and frogs, and oftentimes a willing man or two. If you’re up to it, walk all the way to the lighthouse at the tip of the spiraling landmass, and watch the sun set into the water.