Nantucket Travel Guide

USA  #5 in Best Relaxing Getaways in the USA
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Courtesy of Macro_Man9/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Free Things To Do in Nantucket

If you have extra time, Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Nantucket
    View all Photos
    #1 in Nantucket
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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. According to one TripAdvisor user: "This is the busiest beach on Nantucket. Plan for crowds and parking challenges." Other recent travelers suggest you swing by in the off-season. Although cold, this is when you can catch a quieter Surfside experience.

  • #2
    Brant Point Light
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    #2 in Nantucket
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Nantucket's iconic Brant Point Light is said to be the country's second oldest lighthouse by some aficionados. While this superlative isn't completely true -- the current tower dates to 1901, while the station has had a lighthouse since 1746 -- the attraction remains a popular spot to view Nantucket Town's harbor.

    You can't go inside Brant Point -- it's still an active post used by the U.S. Coast Guard -- but there's still a lot to see here. The beach of the same name is a picturesque place to take a breather and watch the boats float by the harbor. One TripAdvisor user likes the beach for quite a different reason: "Our guide pointed out the nearby beach plums growing wild at the entrance to the beach. We were lucky enough to find a few ripe ones."

  • #3
    Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge
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    #3 in Nantucket
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

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

    You can drive your own four-wheel drive automobile or rent one to test the sand, but one TripAdvisor user offers a warning. "Make sure you know how to drive on very soft sand. During the summer months many a tourist can be seen a few hundred feet onto the beach with their Jeep buried up to the frame." Luckily guided tours are offered by Trustees of Reservations starting at about $40 per adult, $15 for kids.

  • #5
    Jetties Beach
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    #5 in Nantucket
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Northern Jetties is pretty similar to its southern, sandy counterpart, Surfside. Both bustle with activity in the summer and are loaded with beachside perks like food carts and public bathrooms. But there are two major things that set Jetties apart.1) Because of its location on Nantucket Sound, Jetties' waves are much calmer than those found at Surfside, making it a better place for younger or less-experienced swimmers. 2) Jetties has a boardwalk lined with casual eateries, keeping visitors from going hungry on an all-day beach trip.

    And most recent travelers love the family-friendly atmosphere at Jetties, but a vocal minority complain about the shore's upkeep. According to one TripAdvisor user: "Cigarette ends, bottle tops, etc [are] left in the sand. I recommend that Nantucket should buy a beach cleaner or two."

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