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Insider's Guide to Nantucket's Beaches

by Courtney Jermain

Photo: andrewmalone / Flickr

East Coast native and longtime Nantucket vacationer Courtney Jermain gives us a rundown of the island's best beaches.

NANTUCKET – There are so many beaches on this little island, making it difficult to pick just one for your perfect summer day. College kids head to Nobadeer, families with young ones prefer Children's Beach, and that's just the beginning. There's a patch of sand for every mood, style, and situation.

Jump to: North Shore | South Shore | East Shore | West Shore

NORTH SHORE

Beaches here are protected by the Nantucket Sound. As a result, the water is warmer and the waves are smaller.

Jetties Beach
Where: 4 Bathing Beach Rd. An easy walk or bike ride from town make it a popular summer spot.
Vibe: Relaxing family-oriented beach with plenty of amusements for the kids: volleyball nets, tennis courts, a playground, sailing and swimming lessons, tennis courts, and a skate park.
Crowd: Families with children — the water is shallow and calm, there's a casual restaurant, and there are changing rooms with showers.
Insider Tip: Prized location of the Boston Pops annual summer concert. Beach chair and umbrellas rentals are available.

Children's Beach
Where: Off Harbor View Way in town and across from Steamboat Wharf.
Vibe: During the summer months, you'll find family friendly-activities like dance and yoga for children, tie-dye classes, and a concert series.
Crowd: As the name suggests, shallow harbor waters make this beach perfect for young children.
Insider Tip: It's the island's most wave-free beach.

Brant Point
Where: 2 Easton St. Walking distance from town.
Vibe: A nice place to relax and watch the boats come in and out of the harbor. With no lifeguards on duty and heavy water boat traffic, swimming isn't recommended.
Crowd: Artists painting the Brant Point Lighthouse and couples admiring the views.
Insider Tip: Don't forget your camera. The lighthouse is one of the most photographed sites on the island.


Surfside Beach

Hanging at Surfside. Susansimon / Flickr

SOUTH SHORE

Beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean see large waves, strong currents, and cooler water.

Surfside
Where: Located at the end of Surfside Rd. and accessed by a three-mile bike path or shuttle service. Shuttles regularly leave from town during the summer.
Vibe: Great for families, with food, restroom facilities, and a wide beach that's perfect for picnics, games, and surfcasting.
Crowd: It's one of the most popular beaches in Nantucket, so it's heavily populated with locals and tourists of all ages.
Insider Tip: The steep hill between the beach and snack bar can be a pain, but the burgers are worth the trek.

Nobadeer
Where: Near the airport.
Vibe: Nobadeer (aka: "Brobadeer") is known for its party scene. College kids congregate to slam Bud Lights, blast music from their Jeep Wranglers, and bodysurf.
Crowd: The average age is between 18 and 30. Expect lots of surfers, laxers, students on summer break, and perhaps the lone aviation lover watching planes fly in and out of ACK airport.
Insider Tip: It's one of the only beaches you can drive on. Remember to stop and let some of the air out of your tires and put your car in four-wheel drive. Not the best beach for children — no lifeguard, no bathroom.

Cisco
Where: Hummock Pond Rd.
Vibe: After a big storm, experienced surfers on the island rush to Cisco. Be advised: Rip currents can be very strong.
Crowd: Has a loyal following and is popular with young adults and surfers. It's also the home to Nantucket's best surf school. Surfboards, wetsuits, and stand-up paddleboards are available to rent.
Insider Tip: Visit Cisco Brewers on your way home and try their flagship beer, Whale's Tale Pale Ale.


EAST SHORE

Open to the Atlantic Ocean, these beaches have large waves and strong currents.

Siasconset
Where: Cod Fish Park Rd.
Vibe: This charming beach is a little more difficult to get to than the others, which means few people and a mellow atmosphere.
Crowd: Early risers looking to catch the gorgeous sunrise.
Insider Tip: One of the few places on island where you can see seals. Stop by the Sconset Cafe for homemade granola.

Great Point
Where: Follow Great Point Rd. to Wauwinet Rd.
Vibe: The pristine beach and Great Point Lighthouse (also known as Nantucket Lighthouse) make the long journey worthwhile. The lighthouse sits on the end of a seven-mile strip of sand overlooking the gap between Nantucket and Monomoy Island.
Crowd: Fishermen. Great Point is home to the island's best fishing.
Insider Tip: A beach permit and four-wheel drive are required.


Madaket at Sunset

Madaket Beach at sunset. eoringel / Flickr

WEST SHORE

Beaches tend to have very heavy surf, but most in the area are closed due to soil erosion.

Madaket Beach
Where: Off Madaket Rd. on the far Western end of the Island.
Vibe: Home to the island's strongest waves, which can cause dangerous undertows and rip tides. Your best bet is to set up a picnic on the notably soft sand and take in the incredible sunset.
Crowd: Off the beaten path. Beachgoers tend to be adventurous or looking to avoid crowds.
Insider Tip: Permitted four-wheel drive cars are required to access the western-most tip.


MORE ON FATHOM

Nantucket Guide
Nantucket Essentials
The Great Sail: Nantucket to Menemsha 
Nantucket Shop: If you can't get there, the souvenirs can come to you.

Courtney is a San Francisco-based event planner. She travels for new culinary adventures, photography, and to experience unfamiliar places with friends and family.

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