Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution

Our inaugural post features the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The WHOI is world-famous for bold scientific exploration, and the beautiful and soon-to-be extended Shining Sea Bikeway leads you right to it. You'll love this ride for both scenary and hardcore science! A full route description follows below.

The 11-mile Shining Sea Bikeway

Personnel sphere of 'Old Alvin' submarine at WHOI

Ride Summary
  • Stats
    • Distance20mi+
    • % Bike Path~50%
    • Modificationsoption for 11mi, 100% bikepath
    • Scenerybeaches, canal, seaside towns
    • Real Science Labs?Guided summer tours
    • Real Instruments?submarines, vessels, testbeds
    • Grounds Access?public (with exhibits)
Public Transit From South Station:
TRAIN: Capeflyer to Bourne (once daily, summer wkds only; dedicated bike car) BUS: P&B line to Sagamore (hourly; bikes in luggage compartments) BUS: Peter Pan bus to Bourne (every few hours; Bikes in luggage compartments)
Optional Second Bus: (for 100% bikepath option)
Bourne Run bus to Shining Sea Bike Path ('Route 151 & Route 28A' stop; bikes on front racks)

Take a train or bus from South Station to Sagamore or Bourne. If you start in Sagamore, bike along the Cape Cod Canal for a few miles, then merge onto 10 miles of low-to-medium traffic streets with lots of optional excursions possible. Then you'll hit the Shining Sea Bikeway and it'll be smooth sailing all the way to Woods Hole. Optionally, you can also take the Bourne Run bus straight to the start of this bikepath to avoid car roads.

You can join weekday summer tours of genuine scientific facilities through late August each year. If you are too late in the season for the tours, the visitors center remains open through late October.


The WHOI is a hub of scientific curiosity in greater Boston. The institution is known around the world for its contributions to ocean exploration, most famously the discovery of the Titanic in 1985 and development of both manned and autonomous deep-sea submersibles. Founded in 1930, the WHOI has also made important contributions to research in climate change, plate tectonics, and marine biology.

Photo Gallery: The Ride

Only those who begin at Sagamore will sidewalk ride the Sagamore Bridge. For tolerating the cars, you'll be rewarded with nice views up there!

Sidewalk riding Sagamore Bridge

Once you get across the Cape Cod canal, you'll scoot under the bridge onto the Canal's bike path.

Approaching Cape Cod Canal bike path

Phew! Smooth sailing from here. This path will take you to Bourne. Readers can also choose to arrive straight in Bourne by bus or train.

Cape Cod Canal bike path. A gem!

Once you pass Bourne, you'll transition into relatively quiet car roads. See an example below.

Intersection of Bell Road and Shore Road

There are lots of out-and-back excursions available on this route. Here's the sort of vibe you can expect:

Mashnee road optional excursion

Sidenote: way easier to stop for lemonade and hedgehog petting when you're on a bicycle! The kid-run stands are active here in summer months.

Hedgehog petting stand
Lemonade stand

Picturesque nature reserves start to appear.

Nature reserve

And soon enough you're on the Shining Sea bikeway

Shining Sea Bikeway
Shining Sea Bikeway

Consider stopping at Station Grill (right on the path) for lunch or ice cream

Station Grill, restaurant in former rail station
Photo Gallery: The Science
Getting closer to Woods Hole

Once you arrive in Downtown Woods Hole, you'll see a few quaint streets, as well as several laboratories. We at Cycle To Science love that the small town is pretty much an even split between quaintness and science!

WHOI's "Ask an Ocean Expert" event
WHOI's visitor center

We featured WHOI because you are not just touring galleries or manufactured experiences. You are actually in the labs and facilities where science is happening. Our tour guide (Cathy Offinger) was awesome! She was a recently retired scientist who was on the Titanic discovery mission and helped to develop several deep sea exploration vehicles. Different volonteers run different tours.

Beginning of WHOI tour
The tour included research labs, historic and modern submarines/research vessels, testing facilities, and artifacts. You are only allowed inside the scientific facilities on these guided tours. Remember that in these hallways and on these vessels, we are making discoveries about our oceans, our climate, and our planet.
Autonomous vehicle
Garage for research vessels

It's a tradition to send foam cups down on the exterior of submarine. The high pressure collapses them down!

Foam cup after a trip outside a submarine in the high-pressure deep-sea

There is a traditional exhibition space and gift shop as well, where you can watch videos of sharks attacking and biting research vessels. Check out the RideWithGPS map at the top of this post for detailed locations.

We believe that Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute could grow to be a mainstream cultural hub. We are curious about your ideas for changes to the scientific grounds and laboratory access that would help make WHOI feel like a place for profound questions and discoveries, even about yourself!