Unlike the sandy barrier beach that makes up Cape Cod , its sister Cape Ann is a rocky headland jutting forcibly out into the rough waters of the Atlantic. Because of that, the cape has a dramatically different character than the rest of the Massachusetts coast, with rocky shores more reminiscent of Maine .
The topography has drawn two very different types of people to the area—fishermen, who have used the vantage point for quick access to the prime fishing grounds of Georges Bank; and artists, who have delighted in the changing dance of sunlight and surf on the granite rock faces.
Roughly, the two groups are divided into the two towns that hug the point. On the north side, Rockport  has been home to artists colonies for more than a century. A dry town until just a year ago, it has a quaint atmosphere full of art galleries and boutiques.
By contrast, Gloucester is a rough-and-tumble fishing village. While it has gentrified somewhat over the years, the fishing tradition is very much alive in the working harbor and bars that line the waterfront. The town’s 15 minutes of fame came a few years ago with the book and film The Perfect Storm, which told of the harrowing disaster of the fishing boat Andrea Gail, and gave what residents generally agree to be an accurate, if sentimentalized, view of their trade.