In Craigville, it all revolves around surf and serendipity

Beachgoers have flocked to Craigville, on Nantucket Sound, since the 1880s. Beachgoers have flocked to Craigville, on Nantucket Sound, since the 1880s. (Diane Speare Triant)
By Diane Speare Triant
Globe Correspondent / June 14, 2009
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CRAIGVILLE - Occasionally, a place is so universal in its appeal that it draws all types of people and events. So it is with Craigville Beach on Nantucket Sound, with happenings perhaps more diverse than at any other single spot on Cape Cod.

The Cape Cod Writers Conference, for example, has been a literary fixture in August for 46 years, gathering hundreds of aspiring authors to Craigville Village, which was founded in 1872. (Christian camp revival meetings flourished on this very spot, with Craigville Beach taking its name from J. Austin Craig, one of the noted preachers.) The weeklong event features courses in fiction, screenwriting, journalism, and creative nonfiction, with high-profile evening speakers such as Mary Higgins Clark offering literary tips at the "tabernacle," a barnlike structure with open-air walls.

Another August tradition, Centerville's Old Home Week, features ice cream socials, auctions, walking tours, and rowing races. Its dramatic culmination is a bonfire on the beach. The fire department is on hand to offer foam-spraying demonstrations and to make sure the dancing flames remain on the beach, while local bands entertain picnicking spectators.

The Hyannis Sprints 1 and 2 (in September and next June) have been drawing as many as 850 triathlon competitors to the middle of the Cape for 27 years. The race begins with a quarter-mile swim at Craigville Beach, a 3 1/2-mile run around the quaint streets of West Hyannisport ("a flat and scenic lollypop, in and out"), and a 10-mile bike loop through historic Centerville and Osterville, ending once again at the beach. The event welcomes athletes of every age and ability, from first-time to elite-pro.

Of course, the most popular events at Craigville are simply basking in the sun amid the rainbow of beach umbrellas and enjoying a dip in the warm waters. Vacationers have been doing just that since the late 1880s, when the surf-bathing rage hit Cape Cod. At that time, only those stopping at the sea captains' homes on Main Street could enjoy the beach, which was owned by Gorham Crosby, a Centerville resident. Now toddlers, teens, singles, and seniors cool off here.

The beach may prove to be the Cape's most popular attraction for another reason: Craigville's waters are poised to be the site of the nation's first offshore wind farm, with the construction of 130 wind turbines some 6 1/2 miles offshore approaching final approval.

Diane Speare Triant can be reached at

If You Go

Craigville Beach

1050 Craigville Beach Road

Parking $15 daily.

47th Annual Cape Cod Writers Conference

Aug. 15-21

Register online: $35 plus cost of course ($65-$185).

Centerville Old Home Week and Beach Bonfire

Aug. 1-9

Aug. 8: concert 6:30 p.m., bonfire at dusk, free.

Hyannis Sprint 1 and 2 Triathlon

Sept. 12, 7 a.m.