We are a half mile offshore, wading in ankle-deep water, a cool morning breeze blowing off Cape Cod Bay. Around us, the tidal flats stretch as far as the eye can see. For a first timer to Cape Cod, it’s a stunning sight to see, but for the oystermen and women working these waters, it’s just another morning on the Brewster Flats. The Brewster Flats are the largest tidal flats in North America, measuring almost 12,000 acres and stretching nine miles along the coast of Brewster to North Eastham. As a guest at the Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club, I was lucky enough to get a front row seat to this natural phenomenon each morning.
“There are about 2,000 cages and 700,000 oysters out here,” says Bud Johnson, our guide for the morning. “Each day they only have about 90 minutes before and after low tide to sort and cull that day’s harvest.”
Johnson is a passionate naturalist and volunteered with the town of Brewster for years before coming to work as an oyster bed guide at Ocean Edge. Oyster bed tours are just one of the many recreational activities offered. With five pools, tennis, pickleball, croquet, and the only Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course on the Cape, Ocean Edge has enough activities to keep any guest busy for weeks. But no resort activity captures the legacy of the Cape more perfectly than an oyster bed tour on the legendary Brewster Flats.
Legacy is an important ideal at Ocean Edge. The resort’s 429 acres are centered around a historic 1912 English country style manor overlooking Cape Cod Bay. Built for Roland Nickerson and his family in 1890, the original mansion was known as Fieldstone Hall and served as a Victorian-era summer playground until a fire destroyed the home in 1906. Roland’s widow, Addie Nickerson, eventually rebuilt on the original foundation, and the home still stands today as the Mansion at Ocean Edge.
The resort’s history is on display throughout the property, showing the evolution from private home to one-time seminary, to the resort it is today. A recent inductee to the Historic Hotels of America, Ocean Edge regularly pays homage to its storied past. Guests can sign up for mansion tours by historian and author Renée Dee, take part in the “Party Like Its 1899” dinner series, or play croquet on the rolling front lawn. Dark paneled walls, antiques, and a basement-level speakeasy offer a genteel nod to the mansion’s heritage and provide a comfortable respite after a day spent on the beach.
The rooms at Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club
Though Ocean Edge has a historic pedigree, the resort is neither stodgy nor old fashioned. Ocean Edge has 342 guest rooms spread out among the Mansion side of the resort, as well as The Villages, a complex of one, two, and three-bedroom villas across the road.
The Mansion side of the resort offers premium accommodations with private beach access and proximity to tennis, two pools and three restaurants. The Nickerson Mansion guest rooms range from 480- to 1200-square feet, and all have spacious seating areas, balconies, or terraces. Décor is contemporary coastal, with cool colors, striped rugs, and large flat screen televisions. If waking up to water views is a priority, then opt for the Presidential Bay Villas on the Mansion side. The two and three-bedroom units sleep up to eight and all come with fully stocked kitchens, dining areas, and outdoor terraces. The bayfront three-bedroom villa set on the resort’s private beach offers sublime views of Cape Cod Bay and the Brewster Flats.
The Villages is a sprawling complex, and the bedroom format makes this part of the resort ideal for families or extended stays. Each villa is equipped with a kitchenette, washer and dryer, living and dining area, and terrace or balcony. Guests of The Villages have easy access to two outdoor pools, the poolside Shark Bah, pickleball and tennis facilities, as well as Blueberry Pond. For golf course views, book a unit in the Endicott or Edinborough section of The Villages, located adjacent to Linx Bar and Grill.
During the summer months, room rates in the Mansion side of the resort start at $400 for standard rooms and can go up to $900 for suites. The Presidential Bay Villas on the Mansion side start at $1,000 and go up to $2800 per night for three-bedroom beachfront villas.
Accommodations at The Villages start at $200 for a one-bedroom unit and can go up to $1800 per night for three-bedroom villas with golf course views.
Dining at Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club
New England’s famous seafood is on full display at Ocean Edge. Oysters, clams, lobsters, and freshly caught fish are staples on the menus at the resort’s four year-round restaurants. The signature restaurant, Ocean Terrace, specializes in elevated dining with the backdrop of Cape Cod Bay on its open-air terrace. The lively bar, roaring fire bowls, and lounge areas compliment Ocean Terrace’s relaxed vibe, where the local Brewster oysters from the restaurant’s extensive raw bar are as fresh as it gets. Littleneck clams, local fish ceviche, and lobster stuffed haddock are also standouts.
If it’s lobster you crave, you can find it on the menu of every restaurant at the resort. Bayzo’s Pub, a sports bar and speakeasy in the mansion’s lower level, has comfort food like fish and chips, chowder, sandwiches, and a lobster roll containing almost an entire lobster worth of meat. Linx, a tavern and clubhouse located in The Villages, serves an equally stuffed lobster roll best enjoyed on the outdoor terrace overlooking the pristine course. For breakfast, light bites, and cocktails any time of year, guests can dine in the Roscommon Room of the mansion. The cozy, paneled bar and dining area is where you want to be in the offseason, sipping a cocktail by the roaring fire.
In the summer months, three other dining options are also available. The Shark Bah, located in The Villages, is a casual spot for lunch at the Arbor Pool, while The Front Lawn at the Mansion offers casual outdoor dining with a menu of wood-fired pizzas and sandwiches. It’s possible to spend a week hopping between the resort’s dining options and never repeat a meal, but if there’s one thing you’ll want to return to again and again, it’s the Beach Bar. Perched directly atop the dunes on Cape Cod Bay, the 32-seat bar has unobstructed views of the Brewster Flats. Enjoying a lobster quesadilla or a fried clam plate as the sun paints the sky a fiery red is about as quintessentially Cape Cod as it gets.
What to do in Brewster
Located on the lower Cape between Dennis and Orleans, Brewster doesn’t have the nightlife of Provincetown or the boutiques of Chatham. The real draw to Brewster is the miles of private and public beaches, hiking trails, historic sites, and unspoiled green space. You’re likely to get a friendly wave from anyone you pass on the main street in town, but Brewster also lends a sense of serenity you won’t find in other towns on the Cape.
Visitors to Brewster might be fishing the ponds at Nickerson State Park, biking the Cape Cod Rail Trail, or taking in a show at the Cape Rep Theatre. Across from Ocean Edge is a smattering of antique shops, and within walking distance are two seafood shacks, three restaurants, and the irresistible ice cream at Brewster Scoop. And if that’s not enough Americana for one town, a quick ride on one of the resort’s bikes will take you to the Brewster General Store. Open since 1866, the store is chock full of handcrafted gifts, souvenirs, and a nostalgic candy aisle that will make anyone long for their childhood.
Just a 10-minute drive away is the town of Orleans, where you can find clothing boutiques, grocery stores, and the utterly delicious Hole-in-One restaurant. Renowned on the Cape for doughnuts and sweets, Hole-in-One serves breakfast and lunch, with another smaller location in Eastham serving only baked goods.
Chatham and Hyannis are a 20-minute drive, and both offer a wide range of shopping and dining options. In Hyannis, stop by Cape Cod Beer, a year-round microbrewery with an indoor tap room, distillery, and biergarten that hosts live musicians daily during the summer months. Afterward, head to Añejo, a Mexican bistro in Hyannis that serves everything from lobster taquitos to quahogs rellenos in their cozy dining room, tequila bar, and outdoor taqueria.
What to Do at Ocean Edge
Exploring the many towns on the Cape is a must for a first-time visit, but there’s enough to do at Ocean Edge that you never have to leave its gates. There are three outdoor pools and two indoor pools at the resort, a full-service spa, and the 18-hole Nicklaus designed golf course, Troon Privé. During the summer months, a shuttle runs continuously between the Mansion and Villages sections of the resort, offering drop offs to golf, various pools, and nearby Crosby Beach.
The Tennis facilities at Ocean Edge are top notch and courts are located on both the Mansion and Village side of the resort. If you’re a fan of America’s fastest growing sport, Ocean Edge offers six pickleball courts, newly built in 2021. I took a lesson one morning with the resort’s instructor, Jim Leahy, whose patience and good humor had me playing like a pro in no time. This summer, a new pickleball pop-up bar opens, where players can imbibe in some pickle flavored cocktails after a match. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the pickle-infused old fashioned, but the combination of sweet and savory was surprisingly delicious.
Biking enthusiasts can rent bikes onsite to explore the 26 miles of paved biking trails and the Cape Cod Rail Trail passes directly through the resort. Kayaking and standup paddleboarding are available at both Bay Pines Beach and Blueberry Pond, and the resort can arrange for whale watching tours. During the summer months, an oyster bed tour is a must-do. With every tour, Ocean Edge donates $25 to a local oyster foundation. Lawn games like croquet and archery offer a nostalgic nod to the resort’s Victorian history and are a fun way to unwind during the evening hours. A pre-dinner cocktail enjoyed while playing a competitive game of croquet was one of the memorable highlights of my stay.
Getting to Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club
Located in Brewster on the lower Cape, Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club is 89 miles from Boston’s Logan Airport. The drive can take anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours depending on seasonal traffic. Hyannis airport is 12 miles away, which is about a 20-minute drive.