by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent
When summer turns hot and humid, you won’t find me in the woods. Although it can be wonderfully green and beautiful, it can also be buggy. Instead, as July turns to August, I much prefer a walk by the ocean, where there’s usually a breeze, and the temperature can be significantly lower. There are plenty of local beaches to explore. Like me, you probably have your favorite. This summer, you might also consider taking a walk on a jetty.
Also known as a breakwater, a jetty is a long narrow structure, typically composed of flat-topped boulders. Its primary purpose is to protect a harbor. Unfortunately, it can also have a negative effect on the coastline, contributing to problems with erosion. Regardless, a jetty can be a fantastic place for a walk. In addition to a cool breeze, it offers a unique view of the surroundings as well as a small-to-large degree of adventure. Some jetties are more loosely constructed than others. While Plymouth’s extends over a relatively smooth course, Scituate’s necessitates the occasional leap from rock to rock.
Jetties are often accompanied by tide pools. When high tide recedes, seawater is sometimes left behind in the hollowed-out areas among the rocks. When this happens on a regular basis, small ecosystems are created. Seaweed, barnacles, snails, small fish and crustaceans can often be found in these surprisingly vibrant pockets. Look for tide pools along the low edges of jetties, and in other rocky spots along the coast. The best approach is to find a vantage point (a sturdy rock, a strip of sand) that steers clear of disturbing the life within. Keep reading for tips on where to find them locally.
Also, be sure to keep up with our 2022 Explore South Shore Challenge. Each week, we suggest a different outdoor activity. This month’s themes include: Watch a Sunset, Relax and Float Downstream, Hear Live Music Outdoors, Explore a Jetty or a Tide Pool, and Visit at Farmer’s Market. To help you meet these challenges, every day in August we’ll feature a relevant property on Instagram and Facebook. Post photos from your adventures to Instagram with the hashtag #ExploreSouthShore. Each month we randomly select a winner from the posts to receive a prize package.
Brant Rock Beach, Marshfield
Visit this public beach to explore both tide pools and a jetty. You’ll find the jetty along the southern border of the beach, not far from the hard-to-miss World War II-era concrete tower. Follow the jetty oceanward and you’ll set foot on Brant Rock itself, a rocky outcropping named for the brant geese once commonly found there. Look for tide pools along the edges of the jetty and the outcropping. There are even some up on top! Parking is available on Ocean Street, the Brant Rock Esplanade, and in the town-owned lot on Dyke Road.
Green Harbor Beach, Marshfield
Another public beach with both a jetty and some tide pools! The jetty helps to form the channel to Green Harbor itself. On one side, the water is rather deep. Most summer days you’ll see all sorts of boats passing by — fishing vessels and pleasure craft. The other side looks out over a long, sandy beach. It’s a gorgeous view, and a pleasant — if sometimes challenging — walk. Look for tide pools on the beach side of the jetty, among the rocks. Pedestrian access, but a town sticker is required for parking in the two lots nearby.
The historic lighthouse at Cedar Point is not the only reason to visit this spectacularly scenic property. A stone jetty extends from its base for more than 1,000 feet into the ocean, protecting Scituate Harbor and providing an opportunity for an adventuresome stroll. While the lighthouse dates back to 1811, the breakwater is of a more recent vintage – originally constructed by the federal government between 1885 and 1890. There is also a small beach area, but due to the depth of the water, it’s not the best spot for finding tide pools. On-site parking area at the end of Lighthouse Road.
Located beside the Leo F. DeMarsh State Boat Ramp, this is the area’s best spot for jetty walking. Extending for just over a half mile, the jetty is relatively easy to traverse, and it even has a guard rail! That said, it’s still a jetty, which means it is uneven terrain, not suitable for everyone. But if you’re up for it, the Plymouth Harbor Jetty provides a long, slow walk and breathtaking views of the harbor, Plymouth Beach, and Kingston Bay. On a clear day, you can see Duxbury’s Standish Shores and Clark’s Island. On the inland end of the jetty, on the north side, you’ll also find a beach with tide pool opportunities. Ample parking nearby in town-owned lots.
Duxbury Beach doesn’t have a jetty, but its broad and accessible bay offers numerous opportunities for low tide exploration. The beach has three distinct access points. The “park” side is open to the public, with a cash parking lot, while the “reservation” side requires a sticker. In addition, there is a small (but free) parking area at the landward end of the Powder Point Bridge. No matter where you park, there is plenty of terrain for poking around. If it’s tide pools you seek, wait for low tide, when the bay empties considerably. For a breezy, scenic walk, don’t miss the iconic 2,200-foot wooden bridge that connects the barrier beach to the mainland.
The Spit, Scituate
Located at the mouth of the North and South Rivers, this popular, tidal beach is accessible primarily by boat. The lower the tide, the more you’ll find to explore. Look for tide pools along the water’s edge, among the rocks, but steer clear of the deeper water. The river mouth is dangerous for boats and treacherous for swimmers. Walking access from Third Cliff, but no public parking.
Minot Beach, Scituate
Poke around among the rocks at the beautiful Minot Beach in North Scituate and perhaps you’ll find a hermit crab or a sea star. When you’re finished looking down among the rocks and sand, be sure to look up and contemplate the historic Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse in the distance, with its 1-4-3 (“I Love You”) flashing light cycle. Pedestrian access, but a town sticker is required for parking.
World’s End, Hingham
There is so much to see at World’s End, you could very easily miss the tide pools! Follow the trail along the western edge of the property, over Planters Hill, to the area known as The Bar. Continue along the shore and you’ll find a low rock-strewn area at the water’s edge, looking out toward Hingham Harbor. At low tide, this is a great spot for tide pool exploration. Limited on-site parking on Martin’s Lane.
Kezia Bacon’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to protecting our waters. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. You will also find 25+ years of Kezia’s Nature columns there. Click here for more information about the 2022 Explore South Shore Challenge. This article is Powered by Planet Subaru.