When you're on a relatively small island, it's hard to get away from the beach. Aw, what a pity. Whether you go to an ocean beach with crashing surf or a harbor beach with gently lapping waves, don't miss the opportunity to savor the Nantucket seaside.
Take time to learn the existing swimming conditions before you head for the beach. Currents can be very strong along the entire south side of Nantucket, including Cisco, Madaket, and Surfside beaches. The Parks and Recreation Department, (508) 228-7213, recommends that people swim only at beaches with lifeguards; beaches are closed when conditions warrant it. Free parking is available at all beaches, and you can usually find a space even in the busy summer months. All of Nantucket's beaches are lovely; here are some of our favorites.
Nantucket Beaches North Shore and In Town
This beach right by the lighthouse has no lifeguards or facilities, but the view of the harbor is always entrancing. An easy walk from town, it's a great place to just sit and watch the boats rounding the point.
Harbor View Way
Families naturally gravitate toward this pleasant beach, on the harbor, and an easy walk from town, where a lifeguard is on duty, restroom facilities are available, and there is a snack bar. And as you might expect, it has a nice play area for children, as well as picnic tables and a bandstand. Parking is free.
N. Beach St.
This large, popular beach is a long a walk from town or is an easy bike ride. Shuttle service is also available. It has lifeguards, restrooms, bathhouses, a restaurant, tennis courts, and towels and chairs for rent. The town's Park and Recreation Department, (508) 228-7213, offers swimming lessons here for children ages 6 and older from July 4 through Labor Day 9:30 AM to noon.
Francis Street Beach
Francis St., and Washington St.
A five-minute walk from Main Street, Francis Street Beach is on the calm waters of the harbor and ideal for swimming. There is no lifeguard.
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Nantucket South Shore and Out of Town
Off Hummock Pond Rd.
Travel southwest about 4 miles out of town to reach this stretch of shore, which is a popular place for surf-casting. A lifeguard is on duty and there is free parking. You can also take the 4-mile bike path to the end of Hummock Pond Road.
As far west on the island as you can go, there is a regular bus shuttle or you can take the 6-mile paved scenic bike path from town. The surf and currents here are strong and can be dangerous depending on weather conditions. Still, it's a popular spot for surf swimming, and lifeguards are on duty. The West Ender restaurant is about a five-minute walk from the beach and there are restrooms at the beach. Madaket is known for its spectacular sunsets.
This beach, located at the end of Miacomet Road has no facilities or lifeguards on duty. The surf is also very heavy and strong. But if you want to get away from it all and find a deserted spot on a beach, this is the place to go.
Located at the end of Surfside Road, this is one of the most popular Nantucket beaches. The beach is wide--perfect for kite flying--and has a bathhouse, restrooms, and lifeguards. You can also get food nearby at a number of restaurants and convenience stores. It's accessible by shuttle bus or you can take the 3-mile paved bike path from town.
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Nantucket Eastern Shore and Out of Town
A regular shuttle bus gets you to this popular area, which is the only public beach on the east shore of the island. There is also a 7-mile paved bike path that you can take. Surf and the currents can be heavy. There is a lifeguard and food is available in nearby 'Sconset.
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