The island of Nantucket is the epitome of a New England coastal summer paradise. The picture-perfect island has endless fine sand beaches and remarkably well preserved pre-Civil war houses and homes.
The charming island is 30 miles south of Cape Cod, with an all-year-round population of just 10,000 people. In the summer, the residents and visitors reach up to 50,000, and the town and the entire island become a thriving vacation, restaurant, art, and shopping center.
You can choose from various lodgings — from luxurious hotels and inns to charming and affordable residential rentals and houses on the island.
Here are some of the main things you should know before planning your visit to Nantucket:
The Time Zone
Eastern Standard Time, with Daylight Savings Time is observed.
The Best Season For Visiting
The summer is the high season for Nantucket. It starts on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day. This is the time when the seasonal residents return to the island, and the thousands of vacationers visit to enjoy the sun, beaches, the ocean water, and other attractions.
Unfortunately, many of the restaurants, stores, and other venues close off-season.
If you prefer a quieter and less crowded experience, we recommend that you visit either in mid-May or right after Memorial Day.
The local Daffodil Festival is held in April, the Wine Festival is in May, the Book Festival is in June, and the Rainbow Fleet is in August.
The Main Things To Know
You can get to the island of Nantucket via a ferry from Cape Cod or by plane.
The island is located 30 miles south of Cape Cod and is a mere 14 miles long and 3 to 5 miles wide.
Some of the most popular places and neighborhoods to visit and spend time in are the Historic Downtown in the town of Nantucket and the village of Siasconset (Sconset) on the eastern coast.
Many of the historic buildings are owned and managed by the local Historical Association, and there are strict codes for renovating them or building new ones, which is why Nantucket is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved historic towns.
Bike travel is very popular, and there are three main bike trails spanning around the island, including Sconset, Surfside, and Madaket.
The traditional local foods you should try are the classic New England fried clams, the lobster, and the locally sourced oysters.
While there is one ferry service that offers vehicle transport to and from the island, it is much easier to get there by passenger-only ferry or by plane. The steamship ferry takes about 2.5 hours to reach the island, and the passenger-only ferry takes only an hour.
On the island itself, regular WAVE buses cover the entire island, all of which are accessible by wheelchairs and have bicycle racks.
There are bus loops to and from the airport and the most popular beaches and areas costing 2 or 3 dollars or half price for people older than 65 years.
There are also various taxi companies and rideshare services, especially during the high season in the summer.
The Most Popular Neighborhoods In Nantucket
When picking where to stay, it is important to select a neighborhood that will be close to the main attractions or beaches you will be visiting and one closest to your own aesthetics and vibe.
Fortunately, there are many homes and houses on the island rented out for visitors and vacationers, so you won’t need to break the bank for an expensive or overbooked hotel in Nantucket for your stay.
Here are the neighborhoods and villages on the island you should know about.
Located at the center of the town of Nantucket, in between Children’s Beach and the Nantucket cliffs on the north, it is also known as Brand Point or Town.
This is the neighborhood where you can see the classic soft gray weathered shingle houses, the cobblestone streets, and the gas streetlights. There are some high-end shops, boutiques, and jewelry shops on Main Street and many cafes, restaurants, and ice cream stores.
Madaket is located on the western coast of the island and is about 6 miles from the town of Nantucket. It has some of the most stunning beaches, allows for tide pool explorations, and is the place to choose if you want to view and photograph the most amazing sunsets on the island.
- Siasconset (Sconset)
This charming village is located on the eastern coast of the island. It is an idyllic place to take walks, enjoy the views and beaches, and admire the beautiful homes and gardens. There are a lot of excellent restaurants and shops there too.
This is the most popular surfing neighborhood on Nantucket. It is located in the southern part of the island and is home to one of the most famous beaches carrying the same name – Cisco Beach.
Apart from the surfing, kite surfing and other fun water sports and activities you can enjoy there, you can go visit the nearby Cisco Brewers. It is a brewery and beer garden with live music and beer, wine, and liquor tastings every day.
- Tom Nevers/Surfside
This area is in between Cisco and Sconset on the southern part of the island of Nantucket. It has family-friendly beaches with lifeguards and a lovely Surfside bike path you can use and enjoy.
The main reason why the high season on the island is during the summer is the weather. While there have been occasions when the temperatures in the peak of the summer have reached the high 70 degrees, the weather in Nantucket is never too hot. This is thanks to the cool breeze from the Atlantic. But keep in mind that it turns into cold and freezing winds in the winter and early spring.
The driest month on the island is February, and the wettest is November.
The average temperatures in the summer months are from 46 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit from May to September.