The Coast is Calling

Mom and baby on WB boardwalk © Cory Siegel
© Cory Siegel

Sure, you could just lie on the beach reading the latest Grisham novel. But why settle for only soaking in the sun when you can go on a wildlife-packed exploration by sand and sea?

Join up with our wildlife sanctuaries up and down the coast, from Newburyport to the Cape and Islands, for summer adventures that are not to be missed.

Come Aboard—We're Expecting You

While Gopher won’t be making any love connections on our cruises, there will be plenty of wildlife action. Join a naturalist to search for whales and seabirds, take part in family-friendly hands-on science, explore the Elizabeth Islands, and check out everything from microscopic marine life to glowing comb jellies aboard one of our summer voyages. Browse upcoming cruises >

Aquatic Explorations at Long Pasture
Joppa boat cruise
Hands-on science while on a cruise Just one of the vessels you can sail on

Paddle—Sitting or Standing

Kayak through tidal creeks, inlets, and marshes; around lakes, rivers, harbors, and bays; and to an island known for providing critical nesting areas for threatened bird species. For a different perspective (and a break from the sun’s rays), try a moonlit paddle for a unique window into how wildlife settles as the sun goes down. Browse kayaking programs >

If you prefer to do your paddling standing up, join a weekly Stand-Up Paddleboard (a.k.a. “SUP”) outing on the Cape’s Barnstable Harbor or Scargo Lake. Find a SUP outing >

Humpback whale fluke © James Duffy
© James Duffy
Kayaking Barnstable harbor
Humpback whale Paddling Barnstable Harbor

The Tide is High (and Low)

The beaches of Massachusetts are not only beautiful but also amazing ecosystems, rich in natural wonders. Bring the little ones to explore the shoreline for crabs and periwinkles. Hike through grassland meadows past a saltwater pond before arriving at a sandy beach. Wade into the water with large seine nets to catch (and release) fish. Explore everything from salt marsh ecology to horseshoe crabs. Help out with diamondback terrapin monitoring. And even give back by participating in a beach cleanup. Browse beach programs >

Want a taste of beach creatures without the sand? Head to our Joppa Flats, Wellfleet Bay, or Felix Neck wildlife sanctuaries and check out a 110-gallon tide pool touch tank to learn about the amazing animals you may or may not have seen on your own beach visits.

Felix Neck camper with seine net
Emerging Diamondback Terrapin hatchling emerging from egg © Ron Kielb
Diamondback Terrapin © Ron Kielb
Searching for fish with a dip net Diamondback terrapin hatchling

Search for Coastal Birds

Catch a glimpse of Pixar’s Piper in real life, along with plovers, oystercatchers, terns, godwits, snipes, and dunlins before they begin their long journeys to southern winter homes, which usually begin around late-July. Learn why there is no such thing as a “seagull” and how to tell a willet from a whimbrel. Browse coastal birding programs >

Greater yellowlegs © Rachel Bellenoit
© Rachel Bellenoit
Felix Neck campers on coast
Greater yellowlegs Felix Neck day campers

Coastally Challenged?

If getting to the coast isn’t in the cards, you can still get on the water by canoeing or kayaking the state’s rivers and ponds with many of our wildlife sanctuaries. Travel them on your own, or join a naturalist-guided paddle. On one of our outings, you can even remove invasive species plaguing our waterways.

However you get on the water this summer, you can be sure there’s plenty of nature to discover.

Hit the Water

In Greater Boston >
In Central MA >
In the Berkshires >
In the CT River Valley >

This article is just one of many featured in the Summer 2017 issue of Explore, Mass Audubon's quarterly magazine exclusively for members.