a Monomoy satellite image
a Monomoy topographic map
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
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.
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.
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.
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.
about the seals of Monomoy at The Cape Cod Travel Guide
Wildlife Refuge Headquarters
Morris Island Hike Trail
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
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
Morris Island, pets must be on a short handheld leash
during the entire visit. No pets are permitted on the Monomoy
vehicles are restricted to the entrance roads and parking
Hunting, shooting, fires, and camping are not permitted.
Use of small barbecue grills is permitted on open beach
- 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.
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.