The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) currently preserves and oversees acres of land containing Cape May's most notable Victorian-era landmarks, relying on a staff of 160 and nearly twice as many volunteers. At its inception, though, MAC existed purely as a volunteer effort. Passionate people came together with a simple mission: preserve area history. The founding members first joined forces to rescue the Emlen Physick Estate mansion?built in 1879?from demolition. Successfully fending off the bulldozers, they went so far as to restore it through volunteer man-hours alone.
Having preserved the mansion, the MAC crew decided to transform their volunteer-only organization into a staffed outfit. The new, full-time staff members did more than just run the mansion site; they set their sights, quite literally, higher. They restored the 1859 Cape May Lighthouse, a towering landmark that had been closed to the public for almost 50 years. They also undertook the restoration, repair, and oversight of Fire Control Tower No. 23, the last uncompromised lookout tower erected during World War II. They now oversee all sites, maintaining over 100 of years of history, which is presented through tours, events, and chats with talkative ghosts.
Nimbus Flyboarding's personal watercraft contraptions are pretty much designed for one thing: delivering an adrenaline rush. The jetpack-like devices propel users with a powerful stream of water, sending them diving headlong beneath the water or soaring up to 60 feet in the air to hear the secret songs birds sing when they think they're out of human earshot. Though the whole thing can seem a little overwhelming at first, beginners shouldn't fret: according to the owner of Nimbus Flyboarding, most people pick up the basics within minutes.
The friendly staff of the family-owned and family-operated Pier 88 Marina aims to create an all-inclusive setting for local boaters and visiting tourists alike. Docking services accommodate boats of up to 35 feet, and a fillet table and a bait-and-tackle shop accommodate anglers who seek the area's flounder, striped bass, and yellowfin tuna. The business also rents out single and tandem kayaks for self-guided jaunts into Townsend Sound or organized tours led by nature experts.
Equipped with GPS, radar, and electronic fish-finding technology, you wouldn't think the Capt. Robbins is more than 60 years old. Rainbow Deep Sea Fishing's captain Victor Hartley purchased the storied vessel in 2011 and refurbished it the next year. The acquisition was a homecoming of sorts, as Hartley once worked on the ship as a child. Today, the Capt. Robbins ferries up to 125 passengers on fishing trips off the shores of New Jersey.
Not many restaurants run a jet ski business from the back of the eatery. But De Lazy Lizard Bar and Grill is a unique establishment that also runs Lizard Water Sports, an outdoor water recreation destination dedicated to jet skiing. Here, customers can rent a motorized watercraft to glide across the waters at varying speeds before returning to the restaurant to sample burgers and swap stories about racing dolphins that also rented jet-skis.
The ships that comprise Starlight Fleet's squadron of vessels each transport passengers across the waves on a variety of sea adventures. The Starlight ferries fisherman on four-hour excursions to hook sea bass, flounder, croakers and triggerfish, the captain using sonar, GPS, and a knowledge of the currents to identify prime fishing real estate. The Atlantic Star typically serves as a whale-watching vessel and is kitted out with a snack-filled galley and a touch tank filled with horseshoe crabs and other local sea life.
The company even boasts its very own pirate ship, The Dark Star, a custom-designed vessel built by Naval Architect Michael LeMole. It takes passengers on swashbuckling adventures during which they learn what a swash is and how to buckle it, as well as participate in treasure hunts and face painting.