May 26, 2021 Travel Guide: Nantucket, MA.
Nantucket, a small island off the coast of Cape Cod, has a vast history in the whaling industry and historic homes from the pre-Civil war era. The island, which is only 14 miles in length, has pristine beaches, manicured gardens, and 50 percent of the island is held in permanent conservation by the Nantucket Conservation Foundation. Nantucket is known for being a summer hotspot that features many established restaurants, curated boutique shopping, and annual events that attract thousands of people yearly to visit the island. Some of the annual events that are worth visiting are the Food and Wine Festival held in May, the Nantucket Garden Festival in July, and Nantucket Noel in December. I forewarn you that Nantucket is a pricey vacation destination, especially during the summer. Prices during the summer months can be double or triple what they typically are throughout the remainder of the year. If you are trying to be more budget friendly, I suggest going closer to the end of spring or beginning of fall.
Transportation to the Island: Nantucket is only accessible via flight or ferry. We started our trip at the Hyannis Boat Port in Hyannis, MA. We parked on site at Hyannis parking. We were scrambling to depart, get our tickets, and board the ferry, since we arrived a mere 10 minutes before departure. Parking prices vary during the year, we paid $20 for the day. You can do off site parking and park a block away which will save you $5. There are two options for ferry transporation the high speed ferry vs the traditional ferry. We chose the traditional ferry since it will save you a total of $37.00 round trip per person. The traditional ferry is a slow boat cruise of 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to the island. The high speed ferry which has more departure times costs $77 round trip and only takes 1 hour to get to the island. So, which ferry is best for you? If you are rushed or need to leave at a certain time, a high speed ferry is for you. You can also reserve the high speed ferry ahead of time. The traditional ferry is more cost effective, you cannot reserve the traditional ferry and is a first come first serve ferry.
Transportation on the Island: We decided to get a rental car for the day since we did not know much about the island. Absolutely DO NOT get a rental car. The island is small enough that you can take the bus to the hot spots, if not located on the bus route I would uber/taxi . If staying for an extended period of time you can bring your car on the ferry to Nantucket for around $400-450 round trip.
Sconset Bluff Walk:
Your first stop should be the Sconset Market, a very small grocery store selling coffee, baked goods, and homemade ice cream. Next door is a hotspot for breakfast or lunch called Claudette’s. Both looked amazing, locals and vacation goers were lined up at both places. There is outdoor seating right next to Sconset Market to enjoy your breakfast and if you listen closely you can hear the ocean. Fun Fact: Nantucket has a premier artisan coffee roaster for around 25 years called Nantucket Coffee Roasters. You can grab a bag of the ground coffee or just a cup at the Sconset Market. Of course I had to try a cup and it was delicious. I added a dash of oatmeal creamer and my day was ready to start. I mean your day doesn’t really start until you have had your coffee, right? Located nearby is the Sconset Bluff Walk which is a two mile walk in length. The Sconset Bluff walk is a little hard to find and entry is easiest to find on google maps. It was very intimate as you get to stroll along the paths and view beautiful homes and gardens honestly, it was like a HGTV landscaping trail. As you stroll you get to see all the freshly manicured gardens and views of the ocean . The Sconset Bluff Walk is not near the port it is a couple miles away so best reached by public bus just make sure to look up times of departure and bus stops ahead of time.
Sankaty Head Lighthouse:
The Sankaty Lighthouse was established in 1850 and is 70 feet in height. The lighthouse is made of brick on the lower part and granite on the higher point. Fast forward to 2007 erosion had taken its toll on the bluff and Sankaty Lighthouse needed to be moved. The plaque in front of the lighthouse tells the story of it being moved in 2007 by the Sconset Trust. Nantucket is known for conservation groups that protect the island and more than half the island is protected from development. Note, there is minimal parking here. If you start at Sconset Market, walk the Sconset Bluff walk you will end up at the Sankaty Head Lighthouse. There are tours inside the lighthouse however due to Covid-19 this part was closed to the public.
There are over 800 pre-civil war homes that have been carefully restored, you will be in awe of the federal homes. There are many homes in town around the shopping center where you can walk the cobblestone streets and view the beauty of the homes. Nantucket’s “town” is within walking distance of the ferry port. Visit the Nantucket Historical Association here, to learn more about the historic properties on Nantucket.
Shopping in Town:
Nantucket is known for many curated boutiques and upscale shopping. I listed my favorite stores to check out below.
Nantucket Looms: Opened in 1968. Handwoven home decor and clothing. Also known for its interior design services. This store also carries over 80 local artists work from a variety of craftsmanship. Pre-covid you were able to view the weaving studio and see the artists at work. Highly, recommend coming here and browsing the work of the locals.
The Lovely: Loved to browse through this store. I LOVED all the beautiful prints and the curated jewelry pieces.
Current Vintage: A vintage clothing boutique, home decor, and an extensive 250+ wine collection. Shopping and wine is the perfect pairing in my opinion. Loved the vintage Lily Pulitzer pieces.
My favorite beach on Nantucket is Sconset. Since it is centrally located to the quaint Sconset’s Market and to the Bluff Walk I found it to be the perfect spot. This beach is relaxing, quiet, and great for families. Be on the lookout, you may even spot seals in this area.