Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge

#3 in Best Things To Do in Nantucket
Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge picture
Chris Hackett/Getty Images

Key Info

Wauwinet Road

Price & Hours



Parks and Gardens, Free Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend


  • 5.0Value
  • 2.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Located at the northern point of Nantucket, the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge provides a protected habitat for hundreds of osprey and other rare sea birds. Other activities include surf-fishing, hiking and checking out the Great Point Lighthouse, but according to recent visitors, off-roading along the 16 miles of trails is probably the most popular activity on the refuge.

The Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge is open to the public year-round. There are no admission fees for pedestrians and boaters, but oversand vehicles do require a daily or seasonal permit ($65 for the day; $140 for the season). Travelers highly recommend signing up for a guided tour with the Trustees of Reservations, offered daily from April through mid-October. On the three-hour 4x4 oversand vehicle tour, expect to learn about the plants and wildlife that call Coskata-Coatue home. Tours cost $60 for adults and $20 for children 12 and younger. Tour times vary by day, so check the refuge's website for more details. In term of its facilities, seasonal portable toilets are available at the Wauwinet Gatehouse and Great Point Lighthouse.

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Time to Spend
#1 Surfside Beach

Surfside Beach, located on the southern shore, is one of the most popular beaches on the island. It's definitely one of the most amenity-rich stretches of sand, too: Public rentals, showers, food kiosks and lifeguards are all here in the peak beach season. And although the waves may be too choppy for younger travelers, Surfside is great for catching a wave and participating in other gnarly watersports.

But popularity has a downside. Recent travelers recommend visiting in the off-season to avoid the crowds and parking challenges. 

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