Mermaids riding cresting waves, overflowing ice cream cones, magnificent whales breaching and aliens on floating saucers — these are some of the Cape's most iconic imagery, real and mythical. And now more than 30 of these vignettes are hand-carved into sand all across Yarmouth as part of the 2024 Yarmouth Sand Sculpture Trail.

It's one of the biggest attractions in the area for reason — kids love to imagine themselves transported to the scenes created in the sand, parents can marvel and the majestic craftsmanship, and those who love Cape Cod as much as we do, can appreciate the labor of love that goes into making sculptures under the summer sun.

How to visit the sand sculptures
While Yarmouth is home to coveted ocean and freshwater beaches, you don't actually need to tiptoe across sunbathers to view the artwork. Maps will be available at the Yarmouth Chamber Visitor Center on Route 28 in West Yarmouth starting in July, and a digital version of the map will be available here in mid-June. Or wing it, and just happen upon each piece of sand art as you crisscross the villages of South Yarmouth, West Yarmouth, and Yarmouth Port.

The massive sculptures, which in total required more than 115 tons of sand, are on display in front of local businesses and landmarks. Take a picture with your ice cream cone in front of Cape Cod Creamery, smile back at the happy whale at Today Real Estate, or pose next to overflowing treasure at the Whydah Pirate Museum. The majority of sculptures required about three tons of sand and a full day to complete.

This year's centerpiece, a 15-ton sculpture created as an ode to all things Cape Cod, is found in front of the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce on Route 28.

How long are the sculptures on display?
You've got until early October to get a glimpse of the pieces. For those who want to add a little fun to the hunt, the Yarmouth Chamber will be posting photos of completed sand sculpture around town on their Facebook page, and you can make your guess for a chance to win some Yarmouth goodies!

What if it rains?
According to artist Sean Fitzpatrick, who leads Massachusetts-based Fitzysnowman Sculpting, the sculptures can withstand normal New England weather. A lot of artistic skill, along with a little bit of science and engineering, goes into creating the striking sculptures. Fitzpatrick and his team use special sand this is finely ground so that it packs down and locks together tighter than average beach sand. Before the team gets to work creating the fine details, a lot of time is spent packing and forming the sand to ensure it withstands wind and rain. And once the creation is complete, it gets a little weatherproofing protection. The final sculptures are sprayed down with a light coating of watered-down Emer's glue to give it a shine and a natural raincoat.

But the most important thing to longevity is not rain, but human touch, warns the artist. Fingers touching the work will do far more damage than a nor'easter. So because we love them so much, and we hope you do, too, it's important to admire from afar.

Happy Trails! For trail maps and photo contest information, click here.