Cape Kayaking

July 2, 2016 | Stefanie DiMartino



The Nauset Marsh Low Tide tour offers guests the opportunity to dig up clams during a break between paddling. When I heard this, I booked the trip right away. After all, Cape Cod is famous for their clamming throughout the country and what better way to experience it than getting down and dirty in their natural habitat.

We began our trip at Nauset Marsh in Eastham. After a swampy entrance, we paddled through the waters and soon discovered why this area is one of the most scenic spots on the whole peninsula of Cape Cod. Kayakers often encounter shorebirds, including a variety of terns, sandpipers and resident ospreys feeding along the shoreline. In addition, it has great hiking trails with beautiful views. If you’re lucky you may find arrowheads and other artifacts from the Wampanoag people, a Native American tribe that lived in the area during the 17th century.

As you’re paddling, look toward the sandy bottom of the marsh and you might see horseshoe crabs scurrying about. Our guide caught one and told us tons of interesting facts about it. Horseshoe crabs are a wonder to many Cape Cod visitors who have seen them for years at the bay, even I learned a thing or two! These creatures are not actually crabs, but rather arthropods, more closely related to spiders. Interestingly, they are used medically for a number of reasons. Biomedical companies use a component of the crab’s blood called Limulus amebocyte lysate, or LAL, as a means to test the safety of vaccines and drugs. Next time you see a horseshoe crab say “thank you!”

After paddling for an hour, we beached our kayaks and jumped on the sandbar. While exploring the marsh our guide taught us about the various types of clams, their habitat, lifecycle, and showed us ways to find them using traditional techniques. We foraged for shellfish along the mudflats of the Nauset Estuary and discovered tons of different types including; steamers (soft-shell clams), quahogs (hard-shell clams), and Atlantic jack-knife clams (mistakenly referred to as razor clams). We also had the opportunity to taste the Atlantic jack-knife clams and quahogs. I’m not a shellfish lover, however, I couldn’t pass up the chance to try them fresh!  

Once we gathered our clams and placed them in our kayak we headed back through the winding marshes. It was lovely. To book a tour visit .

With your paddle complete, remember that the learning and discovery doesn’t stop at the dock. The Massachusetts Audubon in Wellfleet, the Cape Cod Natural History Museum in Brewster and the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitors Centers in Eastham and Provincetown are a few places to learn more about the ecosystems of Cape Cod.

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