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In a field of 250 swimmers at the 2015 Buzzards Bay Swim, sisters Rachel Ashley and Rebekah Ashley Rubin crossed the finish line in 73rd and 74th place, respectively. It took them just under 33 minutes to swim the 1.2-mile course from New Bedford to Fairhaven. But this is the moment they remember:

The Sawmill

At the edge of New Bedford’s urban North End sits The Sawmill, a 19-acre former industrial lumber yard on the Acushnet River. This Buzzards Bay Coalition-owned public park protects the river’s health and offers local residents of all ages a beautiful place to explore the outdoors here at the Acushnet River Reserve.

West Island Town Beach

Splash in the clear waters of Buzzards Bay at West Island Town Beach in Fairhaven. Located along the crescent-shaped southern shore of West Island, this town beach attracts lots of locals in summer and throughout the year. The beach is surrounded by acres of protected forest and salt marshes, which offer more opportunities for wildlife watching and long walks through nature.

Note: This summer, due to concerns about COVID-19, the town has closed the beach to non-residents. Also, only season and walk-in passes are offered; no day passes are available.

Buzzards Bay is so full of special places that it’s hard to pick just one. Many of our wonderful parks, beaches, and conservation areas are protected because of the land trusts that work in communities across the region. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we asked land trusts from Westport to Falmouth to share their favorite places with us. Their responses remind us that there’s a lot to explore — and love — around Buzzards Bay.