Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
                Chatham's Online Guide- For Those Who Visit, Live, and Work Here

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Photo of Monomoy Point


    -  Monomoy Island -

Chatham, Cape Cod, MassachusettsPhoto of Monomoy Seals


This 8-mile long spit of sand extending southwest from the Chatham mainland is one of the best reasons to visit thus here on the elbow of Cape Cod.  Once owned by Chatham property owners it was taken over by the government just prior to World War 2.

Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1944 to provide habitat for migratory birds. Sand stretches for eight miles off the elbow of Cape Cod, forming the barrier islands of North and South Monomoy. In addition to the two islands, a 40-acre unit on Morris Island is also part of the refuge. This is where the headquarters and visitor center are located. The total size of the refuge is 7,604 acres with varied habitats of oceans, salt and freshwater marshes, dunes, and freshwater ponds. The refuge provides important resting, nesting and feeding habitat for migratory birds, including the Federally protected piping plover and roseate tern. More than ten species of seabirds, shorebirds, and waterbirds nest on the islands. The refuge also supports the second largest nesting colony of common terns on the Atlantic seaboard with over 8,000 nesting pairs.

Despite its remoteness Monomoy was home to its own community as early as 1710. A tavern for sailors was opened up in the location of today's Hospital Pond, known then as Wreck Cove.


Monomoy Point Light


During the early 1800's a deep natural harbor at Monomoy's inner shore, known as the Powder Hole, attracted a sizeable fishing settlement. In its prime Whitewash Village housed about 200 residents, a tavern inn called Monomoit House, and Public School #13, which at one time boasted 16 students. Cod and mackerel brought in to the Monomoy port were dried and packed for markets in Boston and New York. Lobsters were also plentiful, providing both food and income for the villagers, who peddled them to mainlanders at about two cents apiece.

The village was abandoned after its harbor was washed away by a hurricane around 1860. Since a storm in 1958 Monomoy is only accessible by boat and was designated in 1970 a Federal Wildlife, serving as an important stop on the migratory routes of 285 species of birds.

Monomoy has no human residents, no electricity, no paved roads-- Today the only reminder of Monomoy's habitation is the Monomoy Point Light, which guided from 1828 to 1923. The wooden lightkeepers quarters, the cast iron light tower, and the brick generator house are alone on the desolate point of the South Island.


Monomoy Seal Colony

Monomoy Seal Colonies

Read about the seals of Monomoy at The Cape Cod Travel Guide

Monomoy Wildlife Refuge Headquarters

and Morris Island Hike Trail

Morris Island Hiking Trail- Chatham Cape Cod

Morris Island offers a small sampling of the unique habitats of the Monomoy Islands and is the only section of Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge accessible by land. Countless shore birds, waterfowl, and songbirds rest, feed and nurture their young here. During certain times of the year, seals frolic offshore in the shallow waters.

Public Use Regulations

All persons using the refuge are asked to comply with local, State, and Federal laws, regulations, and ordinances, as well as with the following conditions.

  • Public use of designated trails within the refuge for wildlife observation, study, and photography is permitted from sunrise to sunset. Surf fishing on Morris Island is permitted 24 hours.
  • On Morris Island, pets must be on a short handheld leash during the entire visit. No pets are permitted on the Monomoy Islands.
  • Motorized vehicles are restricted to the entrance roads and parking areas.
    Hunting, shooting, fires, and camping are not permitted. Use of small barbecue grills is permitted on open beach areas only.
  • Entry into closed areas is prohibited. Portions of the refuge are seasonally closed to protect sensitive wildlife from human disturbance. These areas are marked by signs.
  • The disturbance, destruction, or removal of wildlife, vegetation, and facilities are prohibited.

This is your refuge, but not only yours. Enjoy it, and please do nothing to harm it.


More About Monomoy



Purchase this Monomoy, Cape Cod Hooded Sweatshirt>

Monomoy Sweatshirt Photo


See Today's Weather Forecast for Monomoy

Monomoy Weather


Getting There By Car. .
Monomoy Island is only reachable by boat but you can drive to to the refuge headquarters and visitor center on Morris Island. Take U.S. Route 6 east to State Route 137 south to State Route 28. Take Route 28 east to the rotary in the center of Chatham. From the rotary take Main Street, up the hill to a T-intersection. Turn right and proceed past the Chatham Lighthouse and Coast Guard Station. Bear left after the lighthouse onto Morris Island Road, then take the first right. Follow Morris Island Road to signs for the refuge on the left.

US Fish and Wildlife Logo

Morris Island Headquarters >



This Chatham tote bag with fish and flag design is available exclusively in our secure online store!

chatham fish tote bag

Chatham Tote Bag>


Visit the National Park Service's inventory of Mononomoy Point Lighthouse.

Monomoy Point LighthouseMonomoy Point Light>




Download the Monomoy brochure

Monomoy Island

Download the Monomoy bird information.

 Monomoy Birding

Download the Morris Island Trail Map

.Monomoy Island

Read the first two chapters of Joseph C. Lincoln's 1924 Rugged Water, about the Chatham Lifesaving Service.

Photo of Rugged Water by Joseph C. Lincoln

Joseph C. Lincoln>





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