The island of Nantucket is on its way to beating its neighbor Martha’s Vineyard as one of the top-rated New England vacation and second home destinations.
Although the two New England islands are only 30 miles away, Nantucket seems to have quite a few advantages, making it a top destination for vacationers, romantic couples, watersports lovers, history enthusiasts, and other travelers.
Some of the best bits about “the faraway land,” which is what Nantucket means in the native Wampanoag tribe language, include its idyllic accessible beaches, the protected nature, and land which encompasses over 50% of the island, its fascinating history, its ease of getting around, and the unique vibes.
Here are the top 5 reasons why Nantucket could be “the best island in the world,” as National Geographic once dubbed it.
Nantucket is known as “the Little Grey lady of the Sea” due to the heavy fog which seems to appear out of nowhere. Through the centuries, there have been hundreds of shipwrecks around this small island, but there would have been much more if it wasn’t for the three iconic lighthouses which still stand and guide the mariners.
The lighthouses have become symbols of Nantucket. One of them, Brant Point Lighthouse, greets the newcomers at the harbor. This is the 10th lighthouse, which was last rebuilt in 1901, and is the second oldest working lighthouse in the USA. The first tower on this spot was built back in 1746.
It is adorned with a large daffodil wreath during the festival held for this pretty spring flower every year. At Christmas, the lighthouse is decorated with a Christmas wreath. And on the 4th of July, it proudly displays a large American flag. It is listed in the List of registered Historic Places.
The Great Point Lighthouse is on the northernmost point of the island. It has existed since 1784 and has been rebuilt multiple times since then. This lighthouse is known as Nantucket Light and sits at a very thin split of a beach where the two currents from the Atlantic Ocean and the Nantucket Sound meet. You will have to pass through the beautiful Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge to get there.
The third and possibly the most recognizable lighthouse is Sankaty Head Light. The small red and white striped lighthouse is on the eastern shore of Nantucket, next to the quaint village of Siasconset.
You Can Get Anywhere by Bike
Nantucket is only 14 miles long and about 3.5 miles wide, so it is a relatively small island. Thanks to its expansive network of bike and walking paths, it is easy to get from one point to another by cycling or walking instead of driving.
This helps reduce pollution and supports the local’s efforts to preserve nature and the environment.
Plus, you can enjoy the sights, smells, and noises of the island much better while cycling.
Many of the rental homes and other dwellings have complimentary bikes for their guests. But you can also rent a cycle as soon as you set foot in Nantucket.
There is an option to bring your own bike by ferry for a fee of only $13 as well.
All of the shuttle buses have bike racks, so you can hop on one if you get tired at the end of a long ride.
All Beaches Are Free To Access
Unlike other upscale seaside resorts with many private and restricted beaches, all of the 80 miles of beaches and the entire island coastline are free to access by the public.
There are more than 30 beaches on the island – each of them beautiful and unique. Some of them on the north coast are more suitable for families with little children, and others on the south are preferred by youngsters and surfers.
Some beaches have all amenities like playgrounds and restaurants and are busier than others.
There are some hidden gems, such as Steps Beach, which is one of the most Instagrammed spots on the island too.
Some are remote and quiet and far away from the crowds. And there are some beaches like Madaket, often chosen for wedding and romantic photo sessions because of the mesmerizing sunset views.
So, Nantucket is a beloved summer vacation destination because all beaches are open to the public. And best of all – there is a beach for every preference on the island.
The Most Beautiful Island Walk
The weathered gray 18th-century cottages and houses, with red and pink roses reaching up to their roofs and blooming hydrangeas in postcard-like gardens, are some of the most recognizable symbols of this island.
The Sconset Bluff Walk is a short walking path in the village of Siasconset, where most of these famous rose-covered cottages are located.
The shell-covered path is a mile long and passes by some of these manicured gardens and backyards. It reaches the buffs, where you can enjoy some stunning ocean views and spot some playful seals. If you take the other turn, you will get to Sconset Beach and the Sankaty Head Light.
The Sconset Bluff Walk is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful walking paths in the country.
The Nantucket Community
The authorities and people of Nantucket purposefully began prioritizing and promoting tourism as the leading industry ever since the 1800s. This was when the local whaling activities were banned and declined.
Today, the people of Nantucket are incredibly tight-knit and dedicated to preserving the island’s history, nature, and unique vibes.
The locals will gladly stop and chat with tourists. The owners and staff of the many galleries, shops, restaurants, and other establishments are friendlier than in most other upscale seaside resorts.