In addition to occupying a place of natural beauty, the Port of Provincetown was an important fishing port early in the United States' development. The town has counted sailors, fishermen, and pirates among its population since the 17th Century. In the 1800s, the Port of Provincetown had one of New England's safest and largest natural harbors.
The Port of Provincetown Harbor Committee is charged with implementing the Municipal Harbor Plan, coordinating all harbor components and activities, and to recommend revisions to the harbor plan and local Harbor and Shellfish regulations as appropriate.
The Port of Provincetown Public Pier Corporation manages, maintains, and improves the Port of Provincetown's marine facilities, promotes economic development, supports commercial fishing, and assures the harbor continues to be save and inviting.
Provincetown Harbor is about 1.6 kilometers (one mile) wide and about three kilometers (two miles) wide. Being from 9 to 27 meters (30 to 90 feet) deep, no dredged channel is needed to facilitate the entry and exit of vessels.
From 2003 through 2005, the Port of Provincetown renovated and expanded the town pier, MacMillan Pier to support tourism and the high-speed ferries traveling to/from Boston and Plymouth. In March 2005, the Port of Provincetown Public Pier Corporation entered into a 20-year lease with MacMillan Pier Operations.
MacMillan Pier is the main point for embarkation for recreational vessels and for mooring the local commercial fleet's vessels. Boats embarking from MacMillan Pier in the Port of Provincetown may be going on whale-watching trips, sailing adventures, sport fishing charters, harbor cruises, or traveling to Boston or Plymouth. The Whydah Museum is also located at the MacMillan Pier, and visitors can watch local artists who paint there.
Cabral Pier is parallel to MacMillan Pier in the Port of Provincetown. Also called "Fisherman's Wharf," Cabral Pier. Today, an outdoor display of five portraits of local Portuguese-American women hangs on one side of the old fish-packing plant located at the Port of Provincetown's Cabral Pier.
In the East End, the old fish shack at Lewis Wharf in the Port of Provincetown has been converted into a theater that is home to the well-known Provincetown Players. In 1916, Eugene O'Neill debuted his first play here.
At the Port of Provincetown's West End, Captain Jack's Wharf is now home to another theater where, before appearing on Broadway, Marlon Brando played Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.
The United States Coast Guard maintains administrative offices and barracks in the Port of Provincetown Harbor. Opened in 1979, the current station is a base for enforcing maritime laws and ensuring safety on a 3.1 thousand square kilometer (1.2 square mile) area of the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay. The station contains the first federal building to have solar power. The Coast Guard's 14-meter (47-foot) Motor Lifeboat is a common site in the Port of Provincetown's harbor.
The US Army Corps of Engineers constructed the West End Breakwater in the Port of Provincetown in 1911. Actually more of a dike than a breakwater, the structure is open to the public. The true breakwater for the Port of Provincetown was built in the early 1970s and is located 255 meters (835 feet) from the end of MacMillan Pier.
High-speed ferries operated by Boston Harbor Cruises and the Bay State Cruise Company depart from the Port of Provincetown daily from mid-May until mid-October. The trip to/from Boston takes about 90 minutes. The trip costs about $50 one way or about $80 round-trip.