Nantucket is an island and town located 30 mi (48 km) off the coast of Cape Cod and part of Massachusetts. The island offers quiet harbors, dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches, lighthouses, beautiful old mansions and gardens, interesting history – even a series of (sometimes bawdy) limericks about its residents. Whether you’re looking for a few nights out on the town with friends, a fun-filled weekend with the kids, or a little R&R, Nantucket is where you want to be.
Nantucket is a small island, 3.5 by 14 miles long. It is frequented by CEOs, executives, lawyers, bankers, surgeons, and megastars – or just average folks looking for a getaway. It gives them an opportunity, while enjoying a few Bloody Marys on the beach, to get away from the intense city and work atmosphere with their families and friends. They are able to enjoy many of the fine and casual dining restaurants the island has to offer. Many people come to Nantucket because they know that it is a location where five star service is quite common. Tourists are treated to the finest seafood and other cuisines. Nantucket also has some of the most exclusive golf clubs, lodges, restaurants, beaches, and homes.
While most popular in the summer, the island can be visited at any time of the year. The summer population of 55,000 residents dwindles to 12,000 during the off-season, making for a quieter visit. Be aware that smaller crowds also mean fewer services available, including more limited ferry schedules and fewer open restaurants and stores.
The local government and people of Nantucket are environmentally friendly and green conscious. There is a wonderful recycling system intact that must be followed by all visitors and residents of the island. About 36% of the island is protected and maintained by the Nantucket Conservation Foundation. Protected lands include beaches, hardwood forests, dunes, shrublands, bogs, heathlands, marshes, grasslands, meadows, and ponds. The Nantucket Conservation Foundation also works to preserve the local wildlife of the island. To see the local sea life of the Island there is an aquarium, which is open to the public for a small admission fee. Whale, seal and bird watching are three very popular past times that many locals, vacationers and their families enjoy taking part in. In the olden days, Nantucket was central to the whaling industry. You will find many old whaling bars on the island as well as The Whaling Museum located in town. There is the Nantucket Cottage Hospital, many Banks, a Library, Town Hall, and Police Station if needed.
One factor that attracts many families to Nantucket is that it is a safe place for children to wander around on their own. Kids can ride their bikes into town with friends and grab ice cream at The Juice Bar or a bite to eat at the local Pharmacy. A lot of the restaurants on Island accommodate small children, infants and large parties, so the whole family can sit down together and enjoy a nice meal as well as a night out on the town. There is also a local strip with food vendors and gift shops, which is also a local hang out stop for all ages. A few of the popular tourist recreational activities and services include: biking, boating, fishing, water sports, boat charters, boat rentals, boating services and supplies, fishing charters, fishing supplies, mooring rentals, regattas, surfing, festivals, museums and sites, spas and clubs, beauty, fitness, massage, tours, eco-tours, kayaking tours, van tours, walking tours, and site tours.
Since Nantucket is a huge tourist destination during the summer season an influx of workers come to the island from all over the world to seek employment for the summer with intentions of returning home at the end of the season. Business is at its all time high and workers are needed to facilitate and administer stores, restaurants, clubs, and all other amenities on the Island that attract tourists. These workers are also tourist because while working they too are experiencing Nantucket for the first time and join in on many tourist activities. Many summer workers are internationals.
Nantucket is commonly abbreviated by its islanders as ACK, also used as Nantucket’s airport code.
Part of the island's appeal is its isolation; "Nantucket", is a Native American word that translates into "faraway island" or "land far out to sea." You can reach the island either by boat or plane. Nantucket's location near Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard lets visitors take the ferry over and spend either the day or a few nights on the Island to enjoy the sights, food and shops. Numerous local and national airlines provide regular service to and from the mainland, primarily to Boston and New York area airports.
Steamship Authority Ferries, 141 School St., Hyannis, MA, +1 508-477-8600, . Offers a high-speed or traditional service, is the only ferry to carry automobiles, and also allows bikes and surfboards. During summer months, vehicle reservations are especially important as the wait lines fill up quickly.
Hy-Line Cruises, 220 Ocean Street, Hyannis, MA, +1 508-778-2600, . High-speed or traditional service with slightly higher rates; also offers a first class seating area.
Freedom Cruise Line, Inc., 702 Main St., Harwich Port, MA, +1 508-432-8999, . Beat the busy weekend traffic of Hyannis by going to this port.
For those who may get seasick or prefer to travel by small airplane.
Nantucket Air (also known as ACK air), Nantucket Memorial Airport (IATA: ACK) (ICAO: KACK), +1 800-635-8787 or +1 508-228-6234, . Flies to Barnstable Municipal Airport, 660 Barnstable Rd., Hyannis, MA.
Cape Air, +1 800-635-8787 or +1 508-228-6234, . A sister airline of Nantucket Airlines; flies from New Bedford, MA to Nantucket.
Jetblue provides twice daily summer seasonal round trip flights from JFK on its 100 seat Embraer E190 aircraft
Many regional affiliates of major national airlines (US Airways Express, Continental Express, Delta Connection) provide flights from Boston and New York area airports, although most of these services are summer-only.
Nantucket Regional Transit Authority (NRTA), 3 East Chestnut Street, Shuttle Info: 508-228-7025, Your Island Ride: 508-325-7516 (elderly & disabled van service) (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), . NRTA operates shuttle service known as "The Wave". The shuttle stops all along the many routes, including the Mid Island Loop, Miacomet Loop, Madaket Route, Airport Route, Surfside Beach Route, Jetties Beach Route, Sconset via Milestone Road Route, Sconset via Polpis Road Route, and Sconset via Old South Road Route. The shuttle fares for routes and beaches are about $2 each way. If you just want to go for a loop around the island or close by to Jetties Beach, the cost is about $1 each way. The shuttles run from about 10AM-6PM for the beaches and about 7AM-11:30PM for other areas. There is a bike rack located on the exterior of the shuttles for bicycles.
A popular way to see the island is by bicycling on the two-way paved bike paths, which are located alongside every major road on the island. There are several bike shops located in or around town that either sell or rent out bikes to visitors and locals. All bike paths lead into town and out to Madaket, Surfside, Cliff road, and Sconset.
Most bike rentals are available right at the Steamship Authority ferry dock at Broad St. It is important to note that most main streets around town are cobblestone and bikes are difficult to ride until you reach paved roads.
Easy Riders Bicycles, 65 Surfside rd, +1 508-325-2722, . Located right on the Surfside Bike path.
Nantucket Bike Shop, three locations: two on Broad Street near the Steamship Authority, one on Straight Wharf near the Hy-Line Ferry dock, +1 508-228-1999, .
Cook's Cycle Shop, 6 South Beach Street (next to the Harbor House Village), +1 508-228-0800
Madaket Bike Path. 6 mi (9.65 km), 45 minutes one way to top of Madaket. Rest areas and water fountains.
Siaconset (or Milestone) Bike Path. 7 mi (11.25 km), one-way. Approximately 1 hour to Siasconset. Water available at the rotary.
Surfside Bike Path. 3.5 mi (5.6 km), one way. Flat paths, and only 20 minutes to the beach.
Polpis Road Bike Path. 16.5 mi (26.5 km). Loops from the Siasconset Bike Path to Polpis Rd. and back to town.
Cliff Road Bike Path. 2.5 mi (4 km). Goes past beautiful cliff-side homes.
Dionis Bike Path. Continue on Cliff Road and explore the new Dionis Bike Path.
If you're thinking about visiting Nantucket and you do not enjoy biking, you may take the shuttle bus service which serves all areas. Or you could rent a moped and drive around town. For the most part everything you may need during your stay on Nantucket can be found in town so walking is probably your best bet. There are also taxi cabs available.
A car isn’t really needed to get around the island. The difficulty of having a car is that parking is limited, lots are time checked, and driving in town is full of traffic and people crossing the road.
Boating around Nantucket is very popular. The harbor is full of personal sailboats, racing sailboats, motorboats, fishing boats, and private or company yachts in the marina. The town pier’s Harbormaster can be contacted for mooring or slip rentals. They provide many services to boats in the harbor including delivery of newspaper, donuts, and ice. They also provide a pump-out boat and a dinghy dock. Next door is Brant Point Marine, which sells boat gear, equipment, water sport tubes, and offers boat rentals. There is also a launch that can be accessed near the dock by The Tavern in town that runs all day and will bring people to and from their boats.
The island's long and rich history led the National Park Service to declare the entire island a National Historic District. Notable historical sites include the African Meeting House, Brant Point Light, the First Congregational Church, the Hadwen House, Main Street, the Maria Mitchell Association, the Nantucket Atheneum (local library), the Oldest House, the Pacific National Bank, the "Three Bricks" (which has a very interesting construction history), and the Whaling Museum. The majority of sites are within walking distance of each other.
Nantucket was once the whaling capital of the world. A number of the homes located on the Island are from the 1800s, including many of the red brick houses which were once the homes of wealthy whalers. The first settlers of Nantucket were the Quakers. The Island has a heavy Quaker history. It is believed that values of the Quakers allowed African Americans and women to flourish just as white men did in the olden days. The Island was one of the first places to abolish slavery in the United States. During the late 1800s and early 1900s women were given certain liberties they may have not experienced on the mainland. The first female astronomer, Maria Mitchell is a native of Nantucket. There are many beautiful sights to see in Nantucket. Whether it is the historical houses, colorful gardens, or pristine beaches, sightseeing is always a pleasurable activity.
Brant Point Light. A short walk from the town center. The original structure was built in 1746. The second lighthouse built in America. Boats and ferries can be seen coming into the harbor from this site.
Great Point. A lighthouse at the northern tip of the island, high above the beaches.
Maria Mitchell Aquarium, 28 Washington St., +1 508-228-5387, . Located near the Town Pier.
Nantucket Whaling Museum, 15 Broad Street, +1 508-228-1894, . Admission prices run about $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $8 for youth.
Oldest House, Sunset Hill Rd., +1 508-228-1885. Admission prices around $6 for adults and $3 for youth. Can be purchased as a package if touring the Whaling Museum as well.
Old Windmill, South Mill and Prospect Sts., +1 508-228-1885. Made of salvaged wood in 1746 and set in its original location.
One of the most favorite past times of travelers to Nantucket is going to the Island's many beaches. The crisp fresh air and cool water is quite lovely and the oceanic scene is an image that will leave you breathless. At every corner and end of the island you will find yourself a white-sanded beach. Sit back and enjoy the New England weather or take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. There are many water activities available, including everything from kayaking to surfing. Each beach on the island attracts a different crowd of visitors. You can definitely find a beach on Nantucket that suits and accommodates your personal preference! The beaches are the primary reason people come to Nantucket. Yes, the island has lots to offer, but the miles and miles of shorelines are what continues to attract visitors again and again.
Siasconset (‘Sconset) Beach,
As a general rule, beaches located on the south side of the island (Cisco, Surfside, Madaket, Siasconset) have heavier surf and slightly cooler water than those on the north side (Children's, Jetties, Dionis, Coatue/Great Point).
Children’s Beach has a playground and faces the harbor. There aren’t large waves, so the beach is suitable for children, hence the name.
Jetties Beach easily accessed from town by bike, car, or shuttle. There is a building at the entrance for snacks and restrooms.
Surfside Beach highly populated with both locals and visitors in the summer. There are large waves for boogie boarding and swimming. There is a hill to get up and down to the beach, but there is a snack bar at the top with food, drinks, and beach supplies rentals.
Cruises to see the gray seals and birds on Muskeget Island are offered by specialized boats designed to navigate the difficult waters around the island. These boats can be found departing from Nantucket Harbor.
Nantucket Adventures, . Seal Encounter Cruises to Muskeget Island - 3 Trips Daily,+1 508-228-6365
Land Based Tours of Nantucket Island are offered by numerous operators.
Gail's Tours, +1 508-257-6557.
Robert Pitman Grimes Tour, +1 508-228-9382.
Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge National History Tour, +1 508-228-6799.
Main Street is the center of shopping. Located right in town are several very expensive boutiques filled with glamorous summer dresses, custom made jewelry, exclusive handbags, and shoes designed to match every outfit. There are shops for everything from books to antiques to gift shops. Many tourists flocks to the stores located on Main Street for souvenirs, party dresses, bathing suits, beach towels (things they may have forgotten at home), or just to shop for the fun of it.
A few of the accessories and clothing shops located on Main Street are Judy Nantucket, Nautical Neckties, Vis a Vis, Float, Kiwi Johns, L’lle de France, Ladybird Lingerie, Murray's,
Murray’s Toggery Shop, Nantucket Looms, Nantucket Reds, NantucKID, Ralph Lauren, Seth, Sunken Ship, and The Black Tick, Nantucket. Great stores to shop for gifts include Art Print of Olde Nantucket, Benji’s Boutique, Blue Beetle, Camera Shop, Flowers on Chestnut, Hill’s of Nantucket, L’lle de France, Majolica, Nantucket Baggs, Nantucket Knotworks, Nantucket Life Candle and Soap Shop, Nantucket Looms, Nobby Clothes Shop, and Olde Nantucket Candle Shop.
The Golden Basket, . Shop for the gold miniature Nantucket Lightship Basket. One of the most popular and well known Nantucket purchases.
Christopher Wheat, Nantucket, ☎ 585-329-8997, . Artist Specializing in Custom Paintings of Nantucket. Home and Cottage portraits, Custom views, Boat and Yacht portraits. Have a custom painting done of your favorite view of Nantucket by artist Christopher Wheat.edit
Shreve, Crump & Low, Main Street, ☎ 508-228-6246, . 10AM - 8PM. America's oldest jeweler, carrying diamonds, colored gem stones, estate and designer jewelry from around the world, as well as a wide selection of timepieces and a distinctive collection of giftware.edit
Nantucket Brand, 10 Federal Street (Across the street from the post office), ☎ 508-228-7540, . 10AM-6PM. Great Nantucket-style clothing for men and women. Lots of seersucker, madras, faded red and more.edit
There are also many less expensive stores around town. The Sunken Ship has not only clothing but also great souvenirs and beach items. The Pharmacy (which has a pharmacy located in back), sells toiletries, toys, and small gifts, but most popularly sells ice cream and milkshakes at the front counter. Breezin’ Up has a lot of Nantucket labeled clothing. There is Island Breeze located on Main Street. Four Winds, is a great souvenir shop with clothing, jewelry, gifts, toys, and has an upstairs shop as well. Force Five Water Sports offers many surf clothing and gear. There is a great book store called Mitchell’s Book Corner.
Nantucket Bake Shop on Orange Street – If you don’t wake up early enough and get to the bakery, you may miss out on some great donuts and other sweet treats. The small shop usually has a line going out the door, which tells you enough about how good the food is!
Aunt Leah’s Fudge, located across from the grocery store in town. Has amazing fudge for you to sample, as well as a wall of candy where children can fill up a basket with goodies.
Fresh, 5 Salem St.
Gu Family Markets, 9 Salem St. Grocery store across from The Tavern
Murray’s Liquor Store, Main Street.
The Pharmacy, Main Street.
Stop & Shop, 31 Sparks Ave. Shuttle service is available to this store.
Centre Street Bistro, 29 Centre St., +1 508-228-8470, .
Easy Street Restaurant and Seafood House, 31 Easy Street, +1 508-228-5031, . Right next to the Steamship Authority ferry dock.
Even Keel Cafe, 40 Main St., +1 508-228-1979, . Great breakfast, dine-in or take-out with a patio in the back. Also serve dinner.
Faregrounds Restaurant, 27 Fairgrounds Road, +1 508-228-4095, . You can hop on a bus in town and go out for lunch or dinner at this restaurant with a large outside deck.
Fog Island Cafe, 7 South Water St., +1 508-228-1818, .
LoLa 41 (Longitude Latitude), 15 South Beach Street, +1 508-325-4001, . Open Year round. Nantucket Sushi restaurant and Global Bistro. Great place for lunch (Fall - Spring), dinner or a night out with friends.
LoLa Burger, 10 Broad Street, +1 508-325-0282, . Open seasonally beginning in June and closing in mid-Fall. Nantucket Burgers, fries, tuna burgers and home of the legendary $5 Milkshake.
Lobster Trap, 23 Washington St., +1 508-228-4200, . Indoor/Outdoor seating and Bar.
Millie’s, previously called The Westender, 326 Madaket Road, Madaket, +1 508-228-8435, . Bar on first floor, restaurant on second floor for sunset viewing; take-out also.
Pazzo, 130 Pleasant Street, +1 508-325-4001, . Mid-Island Mediterranean and Italian cuisine from the group who brought you LoLa 41 and LoLaburger.
RopeWalk, 1 Straight Wharf, +1 508-228-8886, . Open May-Oct. Sometimes referred to as the "PlankWalk" as it is considered by many to be the most egregious tourist rip-off on the island.
Rose & Crown, 23 South Water St., +1 508-228-2595, . A pub with very reasonable prices.
Sayle’s Seafood, 99 Washington Street, +1 508-228-4599, . A very popular take-out place offering great lobsters and other seafood. Located near the Town Pier. Call ahead to reserve your dinner!
Starlight Theatre & Cafe, 1 N. Union St., +1 508-228-4479, movies: +1 508-228-4435, . Year round. Lunch daily 11:30AM-5PM, Dinner Su-Th 5PM-9PM, F,Sa 5PM-8PM. Year-round movie theatre with a full-service bar and cafe. Also live entertainment.
Sushi by Yoshi, 2 E. Chestnut St., +1 508-228-1801, . Authentic Japanese restaurant. No liquor license, bring your own.
Tap Room, at the Jared Coffin Inn, 29 Broad St., +1 508-228-2400, .
The Tavern at Harbor Square, 1 Harbor Sq. +1 508-228-1266, . Mid May-Mid Oct. Lunch: 11:30AM-5PM, Dinner: 5:30PM-9:30PM. Indoor and outdoor seating, on the corner right near the dock with harbor views. Offers seafood and other great dishes.
Topper's Restaurant, at the Wauwinet, +1 508-228-8768, . Lunch: Noon-2PM, Dinner 6PM-?, Sunday brunch 10AM-2PM. Take the Wauwinet Lady, their 26 passenger launch to get there. World Class. Wine Spectator Grand Award winner since 1996.
Water Street, 21 S. Water St., "+1508-228-7080, .
See Topper’s Restaurant and Brant Point Grill above – Wine Spectator Awards.
Galley Beach, 54 Jefferson Ave (one mile from town, first right off the ferry, straight until you hit the beach), ☎ 508 228 9641. 12PM to 1AM. The one place not to miss on Nantucket, directly on the beach over looking Nantucket sound, voted in 2008 as best fine dining, most romantic, best water front dining, and over all best restaurant.edit
Chicken Box, 14 Dave St. (off Lower Orange St.), +1 508-228-9717, . Live music, pool, foosball, darts.
The Gazebo at the Tavern. Bar with music.
Kitty Murtaugh's, 4 West Creek Rd., +1 508-228-0781. Pool tables.
Lo La 41, 15 S. Beach St., +1 508-228-2033.
Brotherhood of Thieves, 23 Broad St., +1 508-228-2551, . Folk Musicians. Highly popular.
The Beachside at Nantucket, 30 North Beach St, +1 508-228-2241, FAX: +1 508-228-8901, . 90 air-conditioned rooms and suites. Wireless Internet. Continental breakfast included. Outdoor heated pool. Short walk to town, harbor and beaches.
Brass Lantern Nantucket, 11 North Water St, +1 800-377-6609, Fax: +1 508-325-0928, . 17 air conditioned guestroom suites. Amenities include canopy beds, pet friendly rooms, convenient walking distance to local attractions, harbor views, robes, and private baths.
Century House, 10 Cliff Road, +1 508-228-0530, . Luxury inn bed and breakfast. Breezy wrap-around veranda; cliff top, historic location on Nantucket Island. Homemade daily fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Discover the Freedoms of Nantucket.
Cliffside Beach Club, 46 Jefferson Av, +1 508-228-0618; FAX: +1 508-325-4735, . Top notch and expensive. On private Beach, about 1 mi (1.6 km)from town.
Jared Coffin House, 29 Broad Street, Reservations, 800.248.2405, Tel (508) 228-2400 . This historic inn offers a variety of accommodations, in room spa treatments, dining discounts, a high quality restaurant and wedding and conference facilities.
Le Languedoc, 24 Broad St, +1 508-228-4298; FAX: 508-228-4682, . Year-round. In the historic district. Fine dining.
The Cottages at the Boat Basin, One Old South Wharf, Reservations, 866.838.9253, Tel (508) 325-1499  Offers studio, one, two, and three bedroom waterfront cottages with harbor views, modern kitchens, private balconies and in-room spa treatments. Pet friendly cottages available.
The Summer House- Sconset, Ocean Av, Siasconset, +1 508-257-4577, FAX: 257-4590, . Late Apr-Oct. On the bluff overlooking the Atlantic. A special hideaway. Oceanfront beach.
The Summer House- Fair Street, 27 Fair St, +1 508-257-4577, FAX: +1 508-257-4590, . Late Apr. - Dec. Unique rooms and suites.
The Summer House- India Street, 31 India St, +1 508-257-4577, FAX: +1 508-257-4590, . Late Apr. - Dec. In a restored whaling captain's mansion. Short walk to shops and restaurants.
Vanessa Noel Hotel, 5 Chestnut St, +1 508-228-5300, Fax: +1 508-228-8995, . Year round. No smoking. In the heart of Nantucket's historic district, eight luxurious rooms include marble baths. Trendy.
Vanessa Noel Hotel Green, 33 Center St, +1 508-228-5300, Fax: +1 508-228-8995, Year round. No smoking. sits adjacent to Vanessa Noel Hotel, the islands first and only eco-friendly organic luxury hotel, ten uniquely appointed rooms with the most luxurious sustainable accoutrements. Healthy and Organic.
Centerboard Inn, 8 Chester St, ☎ 508-228-9696, . Historic 7 Room Bed and Breakfast. Open Year Round. Steps to Downtown.edit
Union Street Inn, 7 Union Street, ☎ 508-228-9222, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. 12 room luxury inn steps to downtown, featuring a cooked to order breakfast, full service concierge, garden patio, and afternoon sweets.$149-$679. edit
HI-Nantucket (Robert B. Johnson Memorial Hostel), 31 Western Ave (Surfside), ☎ +1 508-228-0433 (toll free: +1 888 901-2084, email@example.com), . checkin: 3PM-10PM; checkout: 11AM. Open Memorial Day through Mid September. Full Kitchen, free breakfast, right on Surfside Beach in the original Life Saving Station built in 1880'sDorms $29-39, privates $150-175. edit
Century House, 10 Cliff Road, +1 508-228-0530, . Luxury inn bed and breakfast located at the top of a cliff on Nantucket Island with a wrap-around veranda and homemade chocolate chip cookies.
The Wauwinet, 120 Wauwinet Road, Reservations, 800.426.8718, Tel (800)426-8718  This Nantucket Island luxury resort offers private beaches, town shuttles, comfortable rooms, and beach activities.
White Elephant, 50 Easton Street, Reservations, 800.445.6574, Tel (508)228-2500  This premier waterfront Nantucket hotel consists of chic rooms and cottages. Business lounge, fitness center, shuttle service and spa offered.