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Explore this magnificent barrier beach with its sandy shoreline, expansive salt marsh, beautiful salt pond, and unique colony of hardy red cedars.
What makes Chappaquiddick and Cape Poge a special place?
We think it's the almost 1,000 acres of preserved land here – including Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, Mytoi, and Wasque – that offer plenty of places to explore on one's own, or with family and friends, year-round.
Chappaquiddick Island is completely cut off from mainland Martha’s Vineyard since a 2007 storm breached the thin, south-facing beach at Norton Point. In its remote, semi-wild demeanor, "Chappy" is truly a special place to all who visit or live here. First and foremost, there is “water, water, everywhere,” and in every direction. Access is by boat – either by private vessel or by ferry from Edgartown. Here one may find spectacular sunrises, and the equally magical spectacle of a great blue heron rising from the marsh. Sandpipers and surfcasters share the water’s edge.
A Peaceful Getaway
Chappaquiddick Island’s eastern edge is a barrier beach formed thousands of years ago by offshore currents that deposited tons of sand. Today this beach extends for seven miles from Wasque Point on the south past the Cape Poge Lighthouse to Cape Poge Gut. At the reservation’s northern edge, between Cape Poge Lighthouse and the Gut, Cape Poge Elbow sustains a gull rookery and nests of endangered piping plovers, least terns, and oyster catchers.
West of the dunes lies Cape Poge Bay, where calm, clear waters serve as a nursery for finfish and shellfish. The Cedars, stretching between bay and ocean, is a grove of century-old, low-growing eastern red cedars sculpted by salt spray and wind. Powerful currents push through the Gut at the top of the bay, flushing it with oxygen-rich water and attracting striped bass, bluefish, and other favorites of saltwater anglers.
At the northernmost tip of the sand barrier stands the Cape Poge Lighthouse. First erected in 1801, the lighthouse helped guide ships through the shoalwaters and shallows of Muskeget Channel, and into Edgartown Harbor. Storms and erosion felled the beacon twice; the lighthouse was rebuilt in 1844 and again in 1893 and this latter incarnation still stands.The Cape Poge light flashes a brilliant white 63 feet above the sand dunes and can be seen by sailors nine miles out to sea. Today, the Cape Poge Lighthouse is managed by The Trustees, while the U.S. Coast Guard maintains the automated lantern.
Moderate hiking along 14 miles of oversand vehicle and walking trails, plus beach front.
When to Visit
Open year-round, daily, 24 hours (10PM to 5AM – fishing access only). Gatehouse open Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day Weekend, 9AM to 4:45PM. Sections of the Refuge may be closed due to erosian or to protect nesting shorebirds. Allow a minimum of 2 hours on foot, longer if in oversand vehicle (permit required) or also visiting Wasque or Mytoi.
Take advantage of our popular Cape Poge Tours! We offer family-friendly lighthouse, kayak, and seaside exploration tours on a daily basis Memorial Day–Columbus Day. You don't even need to bring a car to Chappaquiddick – we offer complimentary van pickup for guided tour participants on the Chappy side of the Chappy Ferry! Call 508.627.3599 for more information and to book your reservation.
Beach access hotline (current beach closure updates): 508.627.8390.
Picnic tables, bike rack, restrooms (May 30 – Oct. 15) provided. Fresh water is available by hand pump from Wasque and Mytoi parking areas.