Views of Cape Cod Bay from Plymouth: Manomet Point and the Mary Ann Rocks

Plymouth, Massachusetts is well known not only for its early Colonial American history, but also for the sweeping view it provides across Cape Cod Bay. As the largest town in the state in terms of area, Plymouth has a long coastline opposite Cape Cod. The tip of the cape at Provincetown lies roughly twenty miles to the East. Below is a view of Gurnet Light and Saquish Head from Plymouth Beach:


Plymouth is unique to the South Shore as from its hills, one can see gaze across almost the entire inner coast of Cape Cod- from Sandwich to Provincetown. Viewing the area from this perspective is very helpful to boaters looking to get a broad visual layout of the area surrounding Cape Cod Bay.

I most often come to this area by land instead of boat given its relatively far distance from Boston Harbor, and for the excellent views that can be had from land- particularly Manomet Point. There are several good, visible landmarks for boaters in this area, including the stack of the Cape Cod electric plant, which lies opposite Scusset beach in Sandwich, MA right at the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. This stack given boaters a great heading point to the canal as it is visible from many miles away. The stack is visible in the picture below, looking South from Manomet Point:


Below is a nautical chart of the Plymouth area for reference points. From Boston, a trip to Plymouth will take at least an hour in a fast boat, and potentially a few more depending on your speed, as Plymouth Harbor is located 32 miles from the Southern entrance to Boston Harbor at Allerton Point. Located directly south of Duxbury Bay, Plymouth Harbor is really the last stop of protected water heading South before hitting the Cape Cod Canal. Plymouth is in fact the largest town in Massachusetts in area, and so the trip to the canal is still a 17 mile long haul without any inlets, as seen in the photo above.


NOAA Nautical Chart, not for official navigation purposes. See disclaimer at

Upon reaching Plymouth Bay, there is ample beach space to anchor or beach a boat, tide permitting. Across from Duxbury’s Saquish Head lies Brown’s Bank, which is a popular spot for boaters to beach in the summer months during low tide.

Heading further down the map, Manomet point is visible. Mariners passing here en route to the canal will need to use caution and stay far from shore given the rock outcrops off this point, which are know as the Mary Ann Rocks. Fortunately, these obstructions are well marked with a red can (bottom left corner of chart above). The wreck of the steamship Robert E. Lee was a well known tragic event took place at the Mary Ann Rocks. On the night of March 9th, 1928, in a blinding snowstorm, The steamship fell off course on its way from Boston through the canal and onto New York. With 273 people aboard, the ship crashed into the Mary Ann Rocks. Heeding the distress call early on the morning of March 10th, a rescue effort from the nearby Manomet Coast Guard Station ensued, which resulted in the death of three rescuers after a lifeboat overturned. Their courageous deed is memorialized on a stone that lies overlooking Manomet Point:

Robert E. Lee

Several excellent photos of this tragic event such as this one were taken by Photographer Leslie Jones and are now part of the Boston Public Library photo collection, which can be viewed here.

On most clear days, Provincetown and Race Point are clearly visible across the great expanse of Cape Cod Bay from Manomet Point. This is really an incredible view given the perspective it provides. Below is a photo taken from Manomet in which Provincetown’s water towers as well as the Standish Monument are clearly visible:


To the North, one can take in a great view of Saquish Head and Gurnet Point at the Southern end of Duxbury Bay, as seen in the top picture of the post. Gurnet Light, seen up close below sits at the end of the Peninsula:


While visiting Manomet point and admiring the incredible view, don’t forget to stop in at the Lobster Pound and pick up dinner- its great!


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