Nantucket ferries are operated by three different companies and transport both traditional (slow) and fast ferry service from three locations in the high season, and year-round vehicle transportation to the island. There are three places to catch the ferries to Nantucket: the Ocean Street and South Street Docks in Hyannis and Saquatucket Harbor in Harwich Port. The fast ferry service is more expensive, so if you are not abiding by a strict schedule, you may consider taking the slow ferry and enjoying the views of Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, and the Atlantic along the way. If you are planning travel any time during Memorial Day and Labor Day, you will want to make reservations for ferries to Nantucket Island as soon as you possibly can. If you plan to travel on these weekends, plan on booking your tickets months in advance. These weekends, as well as the Fourth of July, are some of the busiest times of the year for tourism on the island. The three companies that operate Nantucket ferries are Steamship Authority, Hy-Line Cruises, and Freedom Cruises. All three providers offer fast ferry service.
Getting to Nantucket Island from Hyannis is a relative breeze, as there are two docks from which you can access both the slow and fast ferries. The traditional ferry service takes about two hours and the fast ferry service roughly cuts the time in half. People traveling to Cape Cod and planning to take a ferry from there to Nantucket Island will simply need to make the very short drive to one of the two docks in Hyannis to access the island. Hyannis Port is on the southern coast of the Massachusetts peninsula that protrudes into the Atlantic on the other side of Cape Cod.
People who are traveling from Boston do not have the option of taking a ferry to Nantucket directly from the city. This is a question many people have because it is often very affordable to fly into Boston, and it would be handy to have an all-in-one ferry service to Nantucket. Unfortunately this is not the case. You will need to make the 70-mile trip by either another flight, by car or bus, or otherwise, on the ground to Hyannis.
If you are planning an extended stay on Nantucket and wish to bring your car along or seek out car rentals, you will need to make arrangements literally months in advance, as only six cars get across every day. Bringing a car along car can be a very pricy proposition, costing hundreds of dollars. The good news is that passage for human beings is much more reasonable. For people who live in or around the area and plan to visit Nantucket a number of times during the high season, you may very well consider a seasonal pass, which saves you a lot of money over purchasing a ferry pass every time you cross.
There are plenty of ferries to Nantucket Island, but only three locations from which to board them. There are, however, plenty of large regional airports nearby, including New York, Providence, and Boston, and smart planners can make it all work by planning in advance and taking advantage of cheap travel between major hubs and the ports of call that depart for Nantucket.