The Elliman Insider’s Guide to Summer on Nantucket

By Grace Cassidy

Spanning just over 100 square miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., the island of Nantucket is known for its quaint vibe and classic New England charm. Described by the National Park Service as the “finest surviving architectural and environmental example of a late 18th- and 19th-century New England Seaport Town,” the historic capital of the nation’s whaling industry is now the quintessential summer getaway, with stunning beaches, wonderful restaurants and (yes, it’s true) no traffic lights.

To celebrate the opening of Douglas Elliman’s Nantucket outpost at 12 Oak Street, we’ve compiled a guide to the best of the island with a round-up of dining hotspots, sandy swim spots and much more recommended by the best guides in town: our Elliman agents!

GET YOUR WHEELS ON

Allison Cameron Parry

“Getting cars on and off Nantucket can be challenging, with car tickets selling out months before summer,” said Elliman agent Allison Cameron Parry, who recommends pre-reserving a rental car from Youngs Downtown or Windmill Car Rental at the Airport or booking through car-sharing platform Turo.com. The bus system is a reliable and affordable option for getting around the island, Cameron Parry added.

Michael Passaro

For Elliman agent Michael Passaro, pedal power is the preferred way to get around and see his happy place. He recommends making The Nantucket Bike Shop your first stop off of the ferry. “When you arrive, say hi to Joe!” Passaro said. “He is basically the host of the island, and you will find him greeting people daily from the front door of Nantucket Bike Shop. He has an abundance of knowledge that will help you to decide what form of transportation meets your needs best.”

Jetties Beach.

LIFE’S A BEACH

Carlin R. Binder

“The beaches are #1 on the list of what makes Nantucket great,” said Carlin R. Binder, who started his real estate career on Nantucket before turning his focus to South Florida. “All the beaches on island are open to the public which makes it really fun.  There’s no limit on what you can see on island, and it feels very inclusive that way for all occupants.”

Children’s Beach (15 Harbor View Way) is just one block from town,” said Cameron Parry. “It’s a white sand beach with gentle waters, marine life, a playground, park, and snack bar—the perfect place for families to relax shoreside.” Restrooms, picnic tables, and parking are all featured onsite for accessibility, and events are hosted at the location year-round.

Jetties Beach (4 Bathing Beach Road) is one of the most popular beaches on the island, located right outside of town on the North Shore,” said Passaro. “There are lifeguards on duty for the summer season and it is a very safe, family-friendly beach.” There are chair and umbrella rentals and other beachside necessities for sale at The Sandbar Restaurant.

Cisco Beach (1 Dirt Road) With typically heavier currents, Cisco Beach is a popular spot for surfers both seasoned and new to the sport. If you want to learn how to catch a wave, consider taking a lesson from the Nantucket Surf School.

FINE DINE & FROZEN WINE

Galley Beach (54 Jefferson Avenue, 508-228-9641) “The Galley Beach restaurant offers a romantic, beachfront fine-dining experience,” said Cameron Parry. “There are great prix fixe deals with in-season New England fusions. Reservations are definitely recommended because this place gets busy.”

CRU (1 Straight Wharf, 508-228-9278) Offering harbor views, seafood dishes, and high society vibes, Cru is an ideal spot for meeting up with friends once arriving on the island.

Straight Wharf (6 Harbor Square, 508-228-4499) Known for its incredible cocktails and stunning locale, Straight Wharf has been serving Nantucket for nearly 50 years.

Both Cameron Parry and Passaro say the Sandbar Restaurant at Jetties Beach (4 Bathing Beach Road, 508-228-2279) is a must for no-reservations casual dining: oysters on the half-shell, fish ‘n’ chips, burgers and cold drinks on the beach. “Whether you spent the day at the beach or a quick trip to the playground, a late afternoon visit to Sandbar Restaurant for a frozen drink should be next on your list,” said Passaro. “Kiddos can run and play in the sand while parents relax with a cold Cisco Beer or a glass of their specialty frosé—probably one of the few places on the island where the whole family will be happy!“

ADVENTURE CALLS

For “adventurous types,” says Cameron Parry, the Sconset Bluff Walk (27 Bank Street) starts in Downtown Sconset and continues through shell-lined trails that wind along the cliffside and give visitors a peek at some of the most beautiful homes in the area. The walk ends at the Sankaty Lighthouse.

Miacomet Golf Course (12 W. Miacomet Road, 508-325-0333) This popular golf course is a great spot to enjoy a round or just practice your swing. Bring some neighbors and friends and enjoy the summer sunshine.

Absolute Sport Fishing (19 Straight Wharf, 508-325-4000) If you’re going to spend some time on Nantucket, it’s only natural to want to get out there with a line and enjoy sport fishing! The Absolute offers a fun experience on a 40-foot sport fishing boat led by Capt. Brian Borgeson.

Nantucket Community Sailing (4 Winter Street, 508-228-6600) “If you’re more the solo seafaring type, check out Nantucket Community Sailing, located at Jetties Beach,” said Passaro. After all, what could possibly be better than sailing during a summer weekend in a New England seaside retreat? Nantucket Community Sailing offers sailing classes and boat rentals for fun on the water.

FAMILY FUN

In addition to the updated playground at Jetties Beach, the new Discovery Playground at Hinsdale Park (54 Old South Road)—created with the Maria Mitchell Association—features innovative play structures that are widely accessible for kids with all abilities.

With Critter Cruise (Straight Wharf Slip 1018, info@crittercruise.com), kids can take a one-hour trip with “Captain Josh” on his vessel the Momomoy, where they can check out fish traps and lobster gear and do some fishing of their own. In addition, a touch tank allows kids to see the fun critters up close.

Maria Mitchell Aquarium (28 Washington Street, 508-228-9198) The Maria Mitchell Aquarium is only open during the summer and focused on local conservation and features incredible marine life from Nantucket. At the end of the season, the wildlife is released back into the waters.

Whaling Museum

THE REST IS HISTORY

“I’m a huge fan of the architecture here on island,” said Binder. “There’s a very nautical vibe to it all as we are at sea, and that is very much embraced here. It’s almost like stepping back in time a few hundred years with the cobblestone streets and historic structures.”

Whaling Museum (13 Broad Street, 508-228-1894) Located in an old candle factory, the Whaling Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in the local history of Nantucket and the whaling history that existed for generations.

Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum (158 Polpis Road, 508-228-1885) Located at the edge of Folger’s Marsh, the Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum demonstrates the incredible history of famous shipwrecks, rescues, life-saving equipment, and what a day in the life is like at the Nantucket lifesaving stations. Host to over 5,000 artifacts, this is a must-see for anyone interested in the marine history of the area.

Explore your next move on Nantucket and beyond.

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