One of America's greatest upscale vacation destinations, Nantucket may not currently be on your vacation radar, but that's about to change. This beautiful island, located just off the coast of Massachusetts, has something for everyone to enjoy.
It's hard to imagine anywhere more relaxing. Head to beaches like Surfside to unroll your blanket, open a book and spend all day listening to the waves break on the pure white sand. Rent a sailing boat and glide out into the bay, fish for the abundant bass and bluefish or head back to dry land and enjoy a round of golf with friends.
From fine dining options like the Boarding House in Nantucket Town to the boutiques on Main Street, all of the conventional needs of tourists are catered for as well. So, for a fusion of vacation essentials, sublime coastline and sporting activities, Nantucket is just ideal.
For many visitors, a week in Nantucket is really just a week on the beach. Thanks to its upscale clientele, you can be sure that beaches like Surfside or the Children's Beach won't be noisy or packed with tourists, and you can always find a patch to stretch out in.
Dining is another one of Nantucket's strong points. The people who visit the island demand a high standard of cuisine, and restaurants like Corazon del Mar or Boarding House never disappoint. Places like Galley Beach also provide beautiful places to unwind after dinner with a beer or a cocktail.
Nantucket has an incredibly low crime rate and few vacation destinations allow kids to play so freely without parents needing to be too concerned. There's even a special Children's Beach with play areas and waves that never swamp the little ones.
Active vacationers can exhaust themselves sailing, surfing, swimming or kayaking in Nantucket. On dry land, there are golf courses like Miacomet, tennis clubs and even places to ride horses like Emerald Hollow Farm.
The name Nantucket is synonymous with fishing, which comes as no surprise for a community that started life as a whaling port. Nowadays, visitors can head to businesses like Albacore Charters and take a boat out into the bay with all the bait and tackle they need to land bluefish or sea bass.
Surfside Beach welcomes you to the beautiful and pristine stretches of sand and unique, thrilling adventures. Stroll along the beach during the day and let the soft sand massage your feet, and you'll hopefully get to see a few whales sitting on the beach. Build everlasting memories by collecting seashells, kiting, picnicking and creating sand castles. Explore further afield to the shifting dunes that present a perfect setting for spectacular photos or experience the ultimate thrill by surfing against the heavy and strong currents. As the day comes to an end, treat yourself to well-deserved burgers at Brotherhood of Thieves.
Built in 1746, Brant Point Light House commands captivating views of the sea beyond. This historic lighthouse was built to guide vessels into and around the inner harbor, and is still in operation to date. The inside is restricted, as it's an active post used by the U.S Coast Guard, but there's still a lot to see. Get a scenic view of the town's skyline and watch as yachts and ferries sail to and fro in and around the harbor, with passengers waving cheerfully. For the daring early riser, get to to the Brant Point Lighthouse before dawn and gape at the glowing orange sun making its first appearance.
Explore this savagely beautiful coastal nature preserve where deer, shorebirds, and raptors intermingle. Located in the remote, northeastern sand spits of Nantucket, this natural reserve opens its doors to breathtaking landscapes. Walk on 16 miles of trails through the waving marsh grasses, windswept dunes, and see a local fisherman grappling with harbor seals. Discover the extensive array of coastal plants including a maritime oak forest, heather and beach plum, and a savannah of red cedar. The Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge is open throughout the year from 5 am to 10 pm.
The Whaling Museum uncovers the fascinating maritime and whaling history of Southcoast Massachusetts. Gaze at the world's biggest ship model (Lagoda), five humongous whale skeletons, and the longest painting in America. The museum is a compelling destination for a vast collection of art and artifacts, and it also showcases the world's finest collection of Scrimshaw - the art of etching on whale bones and teeth. Buy unique gifts at the museum's gift shop and, before retiring for the night, head over to the Whaler's Tavern for a sumptuous lobster roll.
Take a tour with one of the guides through the vineyard, brewery, and distillery located in the fields of Cisco Brewers, located on Bartlett Farm Road. Sample various type of drinks and get an elaborate explanation about what happens in the brewery. Bask in the warm sunshine thereafter and sample some of the latest beer, liqueur, and delicacies, including dumplings and seafood, while enjoying the company of friendly bartenders and servers.
Nantucket is a superb summer destination. Between June and early September, temperatures are usually in the high 70s or 80s (with very occasional rainfall). Then again, high summer also brings the crowds and accommodation costs can go through the roof. As an alternative, try late spring (late April to early June).
Nantucket Memorial Airport might not cater for Airbus A320s, but flights arrive throughout the summer from New York JFK, New Bedford and Boston. After you touch down, the cheapest way into the city itself is by a Nantucket Regional Transit Authority bus which costs $2. There are also cab firms at the terminal and Hertz has an office at the airport if you need to pick up a rental vehicle.
Aside from flying, the best way to reach Nantucket Island is by ferry. If you are taking your car, you'll need to catch a service from Steamship Authority Ferries which departs from Hyannis and cost $17 per person.
Anyone driving to Nantucket will need to get to Hyannis, Massachusetts. From New York, take I-95 to Providence, then switch to Highway 195 then Highway 6 to Hyannis.
Megabus services to Hyannis run from New York City every day and can be a very cost-effective way to travel to Nantucket, while Bonanza Buses run from regional cities like Providence or Boston.
If you are traveling to Nantucket for seclusion and relaxation, the best accommodation option will probably be a furnished cottage or cabin on the shore. However, resorts like the Cottages at Boat Basin offer a neat compromise, offering hotel amenities, like a spa and restaurant, and individual cabins. There are also come beautiful inns on the island, including Ships Inn and the Union Street Inn - both of which are in Nantucket town. If you really want to splash out, resorts like the Wauwinet could be ideal, with their private beaches and luxury spa facilities.
Nantucket Town – The town of Nantucket is the heart of the island and home to the vast majority of the inns and guest houses. With its quaint blue wooden houses and bay filled with sailing ships, it's also a beautiful place to spend time. If you stay in town, you'll be close to great eateries like the Straight Wharf Restaurant and cultural attractions like the island's Theater Workshop, so it's an attractive place to look for accommodation.
Jetties Beach – Located a couple of miles north of Nantucket Town, Jetties Beach is an elite sailing community and, as the name suggests, one of the island's best beaches. However, the main attraction is the concert venue which overlooks the beach and regularly hosts classical and pop acts.
Polpis – Follow the road east from Nantucket Town and you'll reach Polpis, a beautiful coastal village. The village itself doesn't have much to offer beyond mansions and cottages, but around Polpis you'll find some of Nantucket's most attractive coves and beaches.
The main public transportation service on the island is The Wave, a bus network run by the Nantucket Regional Transit Authority. The Wave runs to all of the island's major beaches (with a fare of $2 each way) and to locations like Jetties Beach (for just $1 each way), so it's a very handy shuttle service.
For a tiny island, Nantucket has a huge number of reliable taxi companies. Rates are fixed between the town and major destinations. For example, taking a cab to Polpis will cost $21, and it costs $29 to get to Hoicks Hollow.
If you take your own vehicle or choose to rent when you arrive at the airport, getting around Nantucket is easy. The island is just 14 miles long by 3 miles wide, so it's hard to get lost. However, traffic in town can be a problem at the height of summer; gas costs are higher than on the mainland, and there is a lack of large parking lots in the center of town. If you don't mind hunting around for a spot, you'll be fine. Others might want to rent bikes and see the island by pedal power. Companies like Easy Riders Bicycles will be happy to set you up with a bike and rates aren't expensive.
Nantucket Town is the shopping center of the island, and Main Street is the town's best shopping street. You might actually be surprised by how many luxury boutiques and chains have a presence on the island. On Main Street alone you'll find a Ralph Lauren outlet along with independent stores like Benji's Boutique and Nantucket Looms. There shouldn't be a problem finding gifts with such a wide selection.
One of the side effects of being such a small island is that food prices in Nantucket are almost always higher than the mainland, so you might want to stock up before you catch the ferry. If you do need to shop for essentials, head to supermarkets like Stop & Shop of Fresh, which sells upmarket groceries, but don't expect any bargains.
If you love gourmet seafood, Nantucket is the place to be. The town is studded with incredible restaurants. Some of the most prestigious include Boarding House, which offers a traditional, "farm to table" experience, the Latin-American influenced Corazon del Mar and the Pearl, probably Nantucket's best seafood restaurant. Sayle’s Seafood is a great place to order a takeout lobster while if you just need a snack to keep you going, head to the Downyflake for delicious doughnuts.