Nantucket, MA, is a small island only 14 miles long and about 5 miles wide, but it offers endless possibilities for spending the best vacation ever. No wonder its population grows from 10,000 full-time residents to more than 50,000 during the peak of the summer season.
Apart from its endless and dreamy beaches, which spread over 80 miles on all shores of the island, it has some unique historic buildings and sites which need to be seen by anybody interested in American history.
Thanks to the continuous efforts of the local government and the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, other groups, and the local residents’ commitment, over 30% of the land on the island is protected from any development. Thus the wildlife is perfectly preserved.
So, it comes as no surprise that so many people go to Nantucket for one-day or weekend trips. But others choose to go on more extended vacations or even buy a house there.
While a day trip to Nantucket is possible via ferry or plane, it is a much better idea to book one of the many available residential rentals offered by Congdon & Coleman for a longer stay. This way, you can enjoy your privacy and yet have time to visit more sites and enjoy more activities on this picturesque New England island.
According to travel experts and local residents, here are some tips for making the most of your trip to Nantucket.
Explore Nantucket by Boat
There are many walking paths, hiking trails, and bike paths that cover the island, which you can use to explore. But going on a boat cruise or renting a sailboat offers a unique perspective for visitors to get a feel of the ocean and a glimpse of the beautiful island from the sea.
There are various cruises offered on a daily basis from the Nantucket Harbor. Some are on bigger boats, and others are for private cruises for a few people only. You can sign up for a wide variety of boat tours, including an ice cream tour and critters tour, a fishing tour, a whale and seal spotting tour, and more.
Some of the tours are for an hour or so and are limited to the harbor. There are others that will take you away into the deep ocean, where you can catch some monster fish or watch the whales.
Drive Over the Sands to Great Point
This is one of the best adventures you can undertake when in Nantucket. You will need a special oversand beach driving permit and rent a four-wheel drive vehicle with some air let out of the tires to get there. But the experience is one of a kind and makes it definitely worth it.
You will drive through the picturesque Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge located and ends at the northernmost point and lighthouse on the island – Great Point Lighthouse. The refuge spreads on two peninsulas over 1,100 acres, where you can enjoy watching the untouched wildlife by the sandy dunes.
You can enjoy a scenic view of the ocean during the entire ride to the lighthouse. And if you are lucky, you can spot some seals, raptors, and various shore and water birds on the way.
You can spend the day lounging, fishing or enjoying water sports there.
The Great Point Lighthouse was built in 1874 with wood and then rebuilt with stone in 1816 after a fire destroyed it. In 1984, the lighthouse was damaged by a storm once again, but the locals rebuilt it entirely in 1986. It is the first thing you will see when approaching Nantucket by Ferry and is still fully functional and vital for navigating the mariners and keeping them safe in the stormy ocean waters.
Nantucket is a Family-Friendly Destination
It may be known for its rich and famous celebrity guests, its chic fine dining restaurants, and high-end fashion boutiques, but Nantucket is also a very family-friendly destination.
There is a dedicated Children’s Beach with playgrounds, parks, and other beaches that are perfect even for the youngest kids.
You can also take the children on a fun critters or ice cream tour with a boat.
Another place to visit if you are going to Nantucket with children is the Maria Mitchell Aquarium. There are many tanks with over 50 types of sea creatures there. Best of all, there is a touch tank where you and the little ones can pet and play with some live local crabs, clams, shrimp, and other critters.
The local library called the Atheneum has a dedicated children’s wing. It offers various events and workshops held throughout the year for the kids.
Enjoy Some of the Most Beautiful Beaches on the East Coast
Children’s Beach is perfect for families as it is close to town and has all amenities you will need to keep yourself and the children happy.
But there are many beaches on all shores of the island, all of which are clean, open to the public, and offer stunning ocean views.
Madaket Beach is the place to go for a romantic picnic and for the opportunity to witness and take photos of some of the most stunning sunsets in the world. It is a top-rated destination for wedding and Instagram-worthy photo ops.
Surfside Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the island. It is on the south shore and is preferred by surfers and all other visitors and locals alike.
Siasconset Beach on the east shore is the perfect beach to go for a pre-dawn walk or jog and enjoy watching the sun rise over the ocean.
Eat At Some of the Best Eateries in the Country
Nantucket has become a popular food trip destination and is home to some of the US’s best restaurants and dining establishments. It offers all types of eateries – from the high-end fine dining restaurants to the beach chic and more laid-back diners and bars.
Some of the best restaurants to visit during your stay in Nantucket include Topper’s if you are looking for a fine dining experience of stunning New England Cuisine prepared with local fresh seafood and ingredients.
Oran Mor Bistro has a beautiful antique and nautical style interior. It also has some of the best dishes you can eat on the island, including the famous Bison au Poivre, which draws customers from all around the country.
Cru is another top eatery in Nantucket, where you can try some amazing dishes inspired by the Mediterranean and French cuisines. It is the place to go for the best lobster roll in town and offers a stunning view of the marina with all the mega yachts.
For a taste of some incredible rustic seafood dishes, you should go to The Proprietor’s Bar and Table.
If you want a more casual spot to enjoy a delicious burger, then Or, The Whale is the place to go.
At Galley Beach, you can eat some stunning American dishes and crafted cocktails on the beach.
Cisco Brewery is the place to go to listen to live music, have fun, and enjoy the locally crafted beers, wines, and spirits, along with tasty snacks.
Take a Stroll Down the Island’s Best Kept Secret Walk
The Sconset Bluff Walk has been recognized by travel experts and travelers alike as one of the most beautiful walking paths in the USA.
It is merely a mile long but is a must-see for anyone visiting the island of Nantucket.
The path is covered with white shells and begins in the quaint and absolutely charming fishing village of Siasconset. As you walk down the trail, you will pass by some adorable cottages with weathered shingles covered with roses and gardens full of blooming flowers.
The view throughout the walk is spectacular – with those quaint homes on one side and the bluffs leading to the shore and the ocean.
The path will take you to the Sconset Market, where you can buy a snack for the rest of the trip.
After a short while, you will reach Siasconset Beach and then can head off to view the easternmost lighthouse on the island – Sankaty Head Light.
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