Before the invention of modern nautical technology, sudden storms, dense fog, and strong currents provided a challenge for even the most seasoned sailors. These treacherous conditions proved insurmountable for many navigating the waters surrounding Nantucket, dashing vessels against the shoals and sinking more than 700 ships over the centuries. So many wrecks began to fill the floor of the waters around Nantucket Island that the area was referred to as "a graveyard of the Atlantic."
The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum honors the bravery of the local islanders—often members of organizations such as the Massachusetts Humane Society, United States Life-Saving Service, and the United States Coast Guard—who placed their own lives in danger by attempting to rescue the crews stranded aboard sinking ships. The museum's permanent collection, which consists of more than 5,000 pieces, gives guests an opportunity to learn more about these individuals' heroic efforts.
In addition to vintage photographs and exhibits recounting famous shipwrecks and the ensuing rescue attempts, the museum also features period artifacts that helped save lives. Additionally, the museum is a great place to take a bike ride or picnic on the beautiful grounds with views of the water.
Blackbeard and his notorious friends run the adventure-golf show at Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf. It's easy to imagine the pirates hiding across the cove's two courses—maybe inside a cave, lurking behind a waterfall, or waiting under a bridge. In reality, it's only pirate legends and themes that inhabit each hole's obstacles and winding greens. Plaques display exciting pirate tales, and a large, wooden pirate ship looms out on the water, its deck transformed into an adventure-golf hole. Nearby, Pirate's Cove Marketplace carries the apparel and accessories needed to strut a plank in style. The shop stocks pirate-themed costumes, books, and even treasure chests.
Sailing daily from MacMillan Wharf and stretching 39 feet lengthwise and 16 feet abeam, the Coast Guard–approved Viking Princess accommodates up to 42 passengers and two crewpersons per cruise. Several different cruise formats introduce water wanderers to coastal views of varying sites, such as Cape Cod’s prime real estate, well-known lighthouses, and hidden Provincetown gems. The Princess also embarks on festive holiday-themed voyages, such as Fourth of July or Tax Day cruises. Cape Cod Life's 2010 Gold winner for Best Kids' Activity, the Critter Cruise invites wee ones to pull up lobster pots and bottom dredges from the waters and safely inspect and handle the findings— such as blue fish, sea turtles, or humpback whales—alongside an expert naturalist. The Princess is wide enough to facilitate groups dancing to the sounds of the ship’s overhead stereo or to the tunes of local musicians during live-music cruises.
Stretching across immaculate greenery and pristine waters that run alongside Cape Cod’s Melody Tent, Twin Brooks Golf Course’s 18-hole, par 3 layout is a treat for players of all abilities. Only one hole exceeds 200 yards in length on the par 54 course, though the design still manages to fit in plenty of obstacles, including five ponds and 36 strategically placed sand traps, each one filled to the lip with soft Cape sand and disoriented sunbathers. Players who have stepped into the tee box recently may have noticed a difference: the teeing grounds have all been leveled, reshaped, and covered with new turf. The improvement is just one of many the course has undertaken in the last several months. Others include repairing the cart paths, upgrading the landscaping with railroad ties and new plantings, and reshaping the tree line along the fairways to make the course feel more open and remove potential obstructions. Players can expect a round to take between two and three hours, and Twin Brooks offers both pull carts and gas-powered carts for an additional fee.
In 1958, Ryan Family Amusements founder James A. Ryan opened a simple, eight-lane bowling alley, planting the foundation for a slew of entertainment centers throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. At 10 locations, visitors enjoy a variety of arcade and skill games in addition to traditional candlepin, tenpin, or duckpin bowling. Every Friday and Saturday evening from 9 p.m. until midnight, bowling lanes take on an incandescent glow, allowing bowlers to experience futuristic entertainment without the inconvenience of rising jetpack-fuel prices. Bumper bowling is available for younger players, and an onsite concession stand refreshes responsible adults with glasses of beer and wine.
Safety-trained staff man all aspects of Atlantis's clubs, whether stationed near the free weights and resistance machines or leading group classes in practices such as yoga and Pilates. Treadmills, stationary bikes, and stairmasters set pulses racing without the need to keep convincing oneself that the oven's still on at home. As high windows set indoor pools sparkling at the Braintree, Danvers, and Hyannis locations, tykes reclaim their amphibious heritage in swim classes and adults aggressively burn calories as they cradle tender joints in aqua fitness classes. Afterward, guests can put in an intensive lounging session in the steam room or sauna.