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Herring Cove Beach (New Beach).

There aren’t many places on the Atlantic coast where you can watch the sun set over the sea. No wonder, then, that Herring Cove Beach counts sunset-watchers among its many visitors. (Never mind, for a moment, that the sun is actually setting over Cape Cod Bay and that it is Bourne, Mass., in the distance. Not Asia.) There are still old-timers who refer to it as New Beach, which it was in the 1930s. To the extent that one can generalize about such things, the beach’s southernmost crescent, reaching around to Wood End, is predominantly the preserve of men, who have been frolicking naked there since at least 1948, when The Advocate noted the arrest of eight young men — all out-of-towners — for appearing “on a bathing beach within the limits of the Town of Provincetown without personal covering.” Sixty years later, town leaders felt compelled to put up notices at beach entrances noting, “Sex in public places is against the law.” As for women, Kate Clinton said lesbians tended to stay farther upland because they don’t look to carry things. “I’ve seen lesbians get out of the car in the parking lot, look around and say, ‘This looks good right here.'”

¶ Last updated on 7 February 2017.


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