In the 1940s Art Costa returned home to Provincetown, having been a soldier stationed abroad in World War II, wondering what profession he should take up in order to make a living. He was trying to think of something he could stand to do all day for the rest of his life. For a while before the war, he had been a driver for Mitch's Beach Taxi, driving folks out to the back beach, as the locals called what would become known as Race Point Beach when the Cape Cod National Seashore was established years later, in 1961. He had really enjoyed that job, driving out through the little forested patches and the amazing sandy hillsides that make up the dunes, and traveling along a couple of miles of the pristine shoreline of the Outer Cape.
In 1946, driving a 1936 Ford "woody," Art started a beach taxi business of his own, not only driving people out to the beach, but along the way he began telling them stories about the history of the dunes, the wildlife in the area, and the writers, artists and many others who had spent time in the now-famous dune shacks over the years. That's how the business evolved into Art's Dune Tours, taking people on guided tours through the dunes for some 66 years now. Over the years there have been thirteen companies offering rides through the dunes. The others have all come and gone, while Art's remains, happily touring the dunes on several trips each day from the spring into the autumn season every year.
Rob Costa, Art's son, took over the day-to-day operation of the company several years ago when Art's health began to interfere with driving several loads of passengers out through the dunes every day. Rob carries his dad's scrapbook of photos and mementos of the early days in his Chevy Suburban, the model that now makes up the fleet of 7 four-wheel drive vehicles that you'll often see going out caravan style through the dunes, and he tells some of the same stories that his dad had told to countless passengers over the years. Many times Rob had heard his dad say that if you really enjoyed what you were doing, it wasn't work. That seems to be the secret of the longevity of this company. They love what they do, and it shows.
Daily 1-hour tours, 1 1/2-hour lighthouse tours on Sundays, 2-hour sunset tours, and weddings or other special events can be arranged by calling Art's at 508 487-1950, or toll free at 800 894-1951, reserving your trip with a credit card. Or you can drop by their office at 4 Standish Street and arrange your trip through PTown's incredible sand dunes. Tour rates currently start at $27 for adults, $18 for kids, with children age 5 and under riding in your lap for free. Save $2 on your tour by booking online. You can also add a clambake to your sunset tour and enjoy a traditional New England lobster dinner served on the beach by your tour guide, picnic style. Barbecued chicken or vegetarian dinners are available as well.
As the days grow cooler and shorter, tours begin to wind down for the season. Be sure and get out into the dunes in the next few weeks before they give their last tour for the year. It is a remarkable experience and the beauty of the dunes is unparalleled.