The sandbars and heavy winds off the coast of Provincetown caused many ships to wreck and led to the establishment of three lighthouses in Provincetown starting in1826. You can visit the lighthouses by foot or by boat, and you can even spend the night at Race Point Light.
We’ve listed the at lighthouses starting at the tip of Provincetown Harbor curling around the ‘arm’ of Provincetown to the elbow – Hatches Harbor
Long Point Light
Long Point Light is an unmanned lighthouse that marks the entrance to Provincetown Harbor. The lighthouse was built in 1826 then rebuilt in 1875. The adjacent oil house was built in 1904.
Long Point Lighthouse is 38 feet tall and shines a green light. A fog sensor activates the fog horn that you can hear across town on a foggy day or evening. The faint sound of the fog horn and the fog covering the Ptown is the quintessential Cape Cod experience. If you’re close enough it will lull you to sleep at night.
How to Access: This remote light can only be accessed by foot or boat.
Hike: To make the hike, go to the jetty – or West End Breakwater – at 1 Commercial Street, the very end of the street in the West End. (Map) Walk across the water to the outer beach. Hike east toward the lighthouse. The trip will take a good 1.5 hours each way. Be sure to bring water and pack a snack or lunch. Wear footwear that has traction since the rocks can be slippery at times.
Important: Very high tides can cover a portion of the jetty. Check this tide chart to plan your trip accordingly!
Seasonal Boat Service: Flyer’s Boat Rentals offers a shuttle across the harbor from mid-May through early September. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day on this remote and peaceful beach. The shuttle runs every 30 minutes from 9 am – 5 pm. There are two departure locations: MacMillan Pier, Boat Slip # 8, or Flyer’s Boat Yard at 131 Commercial St.
In the 1860s, the town decided that, in addition to Race Point and Long Point Lights, another lighthouse was needed at Wood End.The 38-foot brick tower of Wood End Light went into service on November 20, 1872.
This lighthouse is the southern end of the spit of land protecting Provincetown Harbor. The light flashes a red beacon every 15 seconds 45 feet above the sea. There is also a keeper’s dwelling.
How to Access: This remote light can only be accessed by foot.
Like the Long Point Lighthouse, go to the jetty – or West End Breakwater – at 1 Commercial Street, the very end of the street in the West End. (Map) Walk across the water to the outer beach. Hike east toward the lighthouse.
Be sure to bring water and pack a snack or lunch. Wear footwear that has traction since the rocks can be slippery at times. And again, very high tides can cover a portion of the jetty. Check this tide chart to plan your trip accordingly!
Race Point Light
Race Point Light was built in 1876 on the northern tip of Cape Cod when travel was treacherous for ships negotiating the sandbars near Race Point. It was first lit on November 5, 1816. The tower’s light was 25 feet above sea level, and was one of the earliest revolving lights.
The lighthouse is open year round to the public. You can visit other buildings still standing on the site, including the keeper’s house, which is available for overnight stays from the spring to the fall every year. Read more about making a reservation.
How to Access
From Race Point Beach:
- Walking: The lighthouse is a 45-minute walk to the left of the beach entrance. This walk is the shortest and most reliable way to access the lighthouse.
- Off-road Vehicle: You can drive out to the lighthouse with an off-road vehicle permit. Visit the National Parks website for costs and requirements. You should also note that off-road vehicle access is sometimes restricted if the Piping Plovers are nesting. Piping Plovers are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
From Province Lands Rd (National Seashore Park): You can drive to the small parking lot located off Province Land Rd. (Map). The walk to Race Point Light House is about 2 miles each way, and include a walk along Hatches Harbor. If you don’t want to make the walk to Race Point, the walk to Hatches Harbor is approximately a 1/2 mile.
Hatches Harbor is a large salt marsh that was diked in 1930. The National Park Service is re-establishing the marsh and tidal flow to restore natural salt march plant and animal habitats. The marsh is a wonderful natural sight at any tide level, but watching the tides flow in or recede at the higher tides is most interesting.
From Herring Cove Beach: Enter at Herring Cove Beach and turn right toward “New Beach”. From here, you can walk along the shore to the lighthouse. However, you have to be mindful of the tides. Getting to and from Race Point Light from Herring Cove may require wading through water at high tide. Check this tide chart to plan your trip accordingly!