Nantucket beaches are some of the best reasons to visit this island. Thirty miles south of the Cape Cod National Seashore, the Nantucket Island beaches have always been integral to the life of this island that is rich in maritime history. Even at the thickest point of the island, a beach on Nantucket Island is never more than two miles away. The island is serious about protecting its fragile marine ecosystem. Public transportation in the form of a convenient shuttle bus (that will happily allow you to load your bicycle onboard) runs just about everywhere. The island is almost completely flat; getting around by bicycle is easy and simple, and there are paved bicycle paths that reach most of the Nantucket beaches and other attractions.
Jetties Beach is actually within walking distance of Nantucket town, as well as a very easy bike ride, and it’s on the shuttle line during the summer. There are Jetties Beach lifeguards, food concessions, showers and changing rooms, tennis courts, volleyball net, and a playground. Since it is located on the north side of the island on Nantucket Sound rather than on the ocean side, the surf is usually mild. This makes it very popular for families with children. Things to do include windsurfing, kayaking, and sail boating, and there are rental outlets for all of these. This is also where many of the island’s festivals and special events occur. Because this beach on Nantucket Island is so very accessible, it can be more crowded during the peak summer season.
Even closer to the center of town, is Children’s Beach, which is ideal for very young children. Summer events on this beach include free concerts at the bandstand. If you are an experienced swimmer, and want some more challenging waters, you will find that Brant Point Beach is just as accessible as Children’s and Jetties Beach but with a much stronger current. There is no lifeguard service here, so experienced swimmers only, and you should not swim alone. All three of these Nantucket Island beaches are located virtually in Nantucket town, and place you close to outlets for sport fishing and whale watching outfitters. Some of these professional outfitters take their boats to places like the Florida Keys during the off-season months. If you use both places as vacation destinations, you are apt to find yourself running into the same people at different times of the year.
Those seeking a beach on Nantucket Island that is more secluded or visited less often, may want to consider Siasconset on the eastern tip or Madaket Beach on the far western tip. Siasconset Beach is located within walking distance of the little community of the same name, which locals usually refer to simply as Sconset. There is a lifeguard on duty, but no public facilities. However, it’s a beautiful beach that is long, wide, and sandy. As it’s an ocean-facing beach, the surf can be quite strong. If you’re wondering when to go to this beach, it is known for its incredible sunrises. On the other hand, Madaket Beachis famous for its equally marvelous sunsets. A good day trip would be to include one beach in the morning, an afternoon sightseeing or shopping, and sunset cocktails at the other beach. Surf here can also be strong.
There are many other Nantucket Island beaches to enjoy, including Cisco, Miacomet, and Surfside—all located on the south shore, and fairly close to the airport. Do remember that Nantucket is serious about protecting the environment. There is no camping allowed on any of the public beaches. Even sleeping out in your sleeping bag is prohibited, and there could be heavy fines.