Today, Heather recommends a fantastic ocean adventure for the whole family:
No visit to Cape Cod would be complete without some type of water excursion. And OceanQuest -- a non-profit marine education program out of Woods Hole -- was one of the highlights of our vacation. The 90-minute cruise is a hands-on, marine educational experience for kids and parents of all ages and truly has something for everyone. Passengers are introduced to the major disciplines within oceanography and are actively involved in manipulating equipment, collecting data, and discovering the wonder of ocean sciences.
As the boat cruises around the sound, passengers are divided into three groups that rotate through three stations on the boat to experience and learn about oceanography. One child is named "chief scientist" in each group and is assigned special tasks such as asking the captain a question. Children have many opportunities to help, experience, and ask questions.
At the stern of the vessel, the focus was on the biological aspects of oceanography. The kids took turns pulling and opening a lobster trap and exploring a live 'touch' tank where they could handle and learn about sea creatures such as starfish, horseshoe crabs, spider crabs, lobster, whelk, and more.
In the bow, we learned about and were able to operate the instrumentation and equipment to study physical and meteorological oceanography. We collected water samples from the ocean floor, measured the water depth and temperature, and learned how to measure waves. And in the cabin, the group was able to conduct basic chemistry experiments using seawater and other items.
I found the staff to be well organized, friendly, and knowledgeable. And they clearly loved their jobs! They were terrific with kids of all ages and prompted questions that were answered at a level that kids could easily understand.
It was also a great learning experience for adults. I never knew that horseshoe crab blood is blue or that whelks (which look like conch) are carnivorous and dine on lobster and crab!
My four children didn't want OceanQuest to end and have made me promise to take them again next year. Any activity that can hold both my six-year-old plus my three three-year-old's attention for a full 1.5 hours gets my top rating!
Parking in Woods Hole can be limited and expensive. I recommend taking the Whoosh Trolley from the Falmouth Mall. It takes about 20 minutes and mall parking is free. Adult fare is $1 and kids under 5 ride the trolley free.
Located a few steps away from the aquarium in Woods Hole and right next to where the research ships and submarines dock, OceanQuest is a trip worth taking. The summer schedule runs until September 4.
And don't forget to bring your camera!
Image credit: Heather