Paines Beach is a 'healthy walk' from the Isaiah Clark house. Make sure that you visit twice..once at high tide and then again at low tide. At low tide you can walk what seems like a mile over sandy mud flats out into the bay. Be prepared to roll up your pant legs and remove your shoes as you cross shallow riplets of water or pools of water trapping fish waiting for the tide to return.
Cape Cod Natural History Museum and Trails
This is a really nice little museum – informative, with friendly staff who love what they’re doing. The interpretive trail covers every kind of Cape landscape in less than 2 miles (Wing’s Island). It’s not a challenging hike at all, although there’s mud in the marsh and sand on the shore to slog through.
The swamp is actually impassable during high tide, so check the tide tables before you head out (or ask inside). It’s not a long distance, but wading through over uneven, sticky mud would not be fun. I’m looking forward to going back when it’s green, and the birds come out.
I visited well before high tide, so the mud flats were also visible, and people were walking out quite a long way. The problem with walking out there is, of course, the small creatures hiding in what looks like grass, like the little fiddler crab in the photo. How many snails do you want to crunch in one day? (There were also some less-alive things out there that, just eww. And I’m not particularly squeamish that way.)
In the museum itself there are small exhibits on local wildlife and a little about Cape natural and human history. The museum’s mission is to introduce kids to the unique natural world of the Cape (and, by extension, everywhere else), and they do it well: lots of things kids can touch, a lot of classroom space, a gorgeous viewing room overlooking the marsh and shore, and a small aquarium with local creatures. There’s a large “tide pool” there too (although it’s not a touch pool). In the summer, they offer what look like exceptional programs for kids; there are a few for adults year round.
The turtles and terrapins were all very interested in my camera (although the lower light and reflections made photos tough).
The Oyster Toadfish, not so much. (This is such an odd looking fish – here’s someone annoying a toadfish, and the toadfish getting even: video clip)
Just because they’re pretty in natural light.