Holiday 99 Massachusetts: Cod's Gift; You Will Be Hooked by the Cape

Article excerpt

IF you want to mix with the really big fish, there's no better place in the world than Cape Cod.

This north-eastern peninsula of the USA has long been a favoured watering hole for celebrities.

Some visit regularly, while others love the island of Martha's Vineyard so much they buy a bit of it and join the old money set.

So there's always a chance of spotting a President, or at least his very visible army of agents, Cheers star Ted Danson or singer Carly Simon.

We flew into Boston - collecting Air Miles with about 300,000 other Brits who visited last year.

And after that it was the hire car, not the chauffeur-driven limo, for the two-hour drive to the Cape.

We small fry were there to enjoy eating the lobsters and clams - and to watch the wonderful whales.

The privilege of witnessing the world's largest creature a few dozen feet from our boat is unforgettable.

And it wasn't a question of straining the eyes for a sighting.

After the first couple of dozen whales, I found myself getting greedy. I wanted them all to perform breaches (hurling themselves out of the water), maybe pose for photos, make the noises whales make.

They were feeding on the Stellwagen Bank, a 700-square mile area north of Cape Cod. Humpback and minke whales cavorted so close you could smell the fish they had eaten earlier. Nowadays, most whales get respect. But it wasn't always like that. Incredibly, less than 30 years ago harpooning these beautiful creatures was still legal.

Massachusetts is now rated as one of the world's top whale-watching spots.

And off Cape Cod you get close to the action - putting Sea World firmly in its place.

Back on land, cycling began to play a big part in our holiday when we discovered how perfectly the flat roads suited our limited appetite for physical exertion.

The 25-mile trail from Yarmouth to Wellfleet is converted from a railway track.

It wanders through scrub oak and pine forests, beside cobalt-blue ponds, beaches and cranberry bogs.

And the only traffic, apart from bikes, is the occasional roller blader. Some tourists cycle on Martha's Vineyard, but the terrain is a bit tougher.

Much better to view its dramatic cliffs, lighthouses, scenic towns from a tour coach.

That two-hour trip gives you a flavour of the Vineyard with plenty of time left to explore. …