Every American child learned in elementary school that the Mayflower, loaded with pilgrims, landed at Plymouth Rock—right? Well, sort of. They did land at Plymouth— about month after they first made land at Provincetown—but there is no record of a rock. It wasn’t until nearly 100 later that an oral history alleged that there was a rock at landing. Nonetheless, there is a 10-ton Plymouth Rock on the town’s waterfront at 70° 40' long. 41° 57' 30" lat. And there is no doubt that the area’s rich colonial heritage is worth checking out for history-buff boaters visiting Massachusetts’ South Shore area.
The calm waters of Plymouth and adjoining Duxbury bays let out to Cape Cod Bay, which is protected from the tumultuous Atlantic by the “upturned arm” of Cape Cod. This makes for excellent boating waters and easy access for trips to the quaint New England style of the Cape’s many notable towns. For those making the trip, port into the Provincetown Marina, which has 30 transient slips, 60 transient moorings and full amenities. Those with larger vessels should head to Provincetown Yacht Marina, which can accommodate vessels up to 150 feet.
On the mainland, there are countless historical sites to visit in town or just a short drive away. Plimoth Plantation is perhaps the most comprehensive, featuring a living history museum with period actors and Mayflower II, a 1957 reproduction of the pilgrim’s original vessel. The museum also includes a recreation Wampanoag Indian home site, a crafts center with artisans creating goods sold in the museum shops, and the Nye Barn animal husbandry program. Plimoth Plantation is open from April to November.
In town, visit Sparrow House on Summer Street. Built in 1640, Sparrow House is Plymouth’s oldest remaining home, now a fine museum and art gallery. Across the street is the John Carver Inn, which sprawls across the middle of the original pilgrim settlement. It’s an excellent choice for those looking to spend a night or two off the boat.
After getting your fill of history, you may want sample the area’s natural bounty. Ellisville Harbor State Park is 101 acres of scenic south shore coastline where you can hike, birdwatch or beachcomb. Other area beaches include Nelson Beach, off Route 3A north of town center and to the south, Stephen's Field Beach off Sandwich Street. The big beach, Plymouth Beach, is also south of town just past Plimouth Plantation. Stretching more than 3 miles, Plymouth Beach offers good swimming, interesting beach-cottage architecture, and views of Saquish Neck to the northwest and Manomet Bluffs to the southeast.
The beach is also convenient to Brewers Plymouth Marine on Union Street, an excellent place for visitors to moor. The marina offers a 14-foot entrance channel and 10-feet of water in the slips at low tide. It has a restaurant and full facilities. As an alternative, Plymouth Boat Yard is just north of town center.