Nantucket Tours and Excursions
Nantucket's experienced tour guides show off their island with the love and pride of a gardener showing off a bed of roses. You'll get a history lesson, personal insights, and priceless anecdotes. You'll also witness the easy camaraderie of islanders, who are likely to roll down the car window and give the traffic cop--probably a friend--a hard time.
Most tours will meet you at a central location or pick you up. The cost is generally about $10 per person.
And you may have guessed already that when you're visiting a spot in the middle of the ocean local tours aren't limited to land. You can choose from among sunset cruises, children's cruises, and--not surprisingly, since Nantucket was once the center of America's whaling industry--cruises that search for whales--just for the joy of sighting them of course.
Nantucket Land Tours
P.O. Box 734, Nantucket, MA 02554
In its 14th season, Ara's offers a 90-minute tour that covers 30 miles of this unique and beautiful island. Listen to guided commentary in an air-conditioned van. See historic Main Street, the rose-covered cottages of Sconset and the lighthouses of Nantucket. Tours leave at 10 AM, noon and 2 PM and cost $12 per person. You can be picked up at your in-town accommodations, boat, or a convenient location in-town. Advanced bookings for tours are highly recommended. Tours are available on a daily basis from mid-April through mid-November. Naturalist and photographer Ara Charder provides the commentary and always stops for photos. The van tour can accommodate 14 people, and private tours are also available.
Ara's also offers a three-hour Around the Horn tour in which you'll travel by Suburban to visit the island's three lighthouses, Brant Point Light, Sankaty Head Light, and Great Point Light. Tours, limited to eight people, leave at 4 PM and cost $300 or $40 per person. You'll travel in a Suburban to the islands' three ligthouse: Brant Point Ligtht, Sankaty Head Light and Great Point Light.
20 Federal St.
(508) 228-0174In Eastern Mass.
Barrett's provides narrated bus tours of Nantucket daily April through November and also offers shuttle-bus service to Jetties, Surfside, and Madaket beaches and to Siasconset. A family-owned and -operated business for 75 years, Barrett's also offers tours and transportation for special groups, such as wedding parties, with group rates for 20 or more people. Tours depart at 9:30 AM, 11:30 AM, and 1:45 PM from the Federal Street offices; the cost is $12 for 12 years old and older and $6 for children under 12.
Betty's Tour and Taxi Service
61 Polpis Rd.
For a tour of the island's oldest house, old mill, beaches, whaling mansions, rose-covered cottages of Sconset village, cranberry bogs, and lighthouses, ride with Betty or Ed--they seems to know every back road on the island. Scheduled tours are at 9:30 and 11:30 AM and 2 and 4 PM and by appointment in the off-season. Price is $13 for a 90-minute tour.
Great Point Natural History Tours
Run by the nonprofit group The Trustees of the Reservations, these three-hour, naturalist-led tours offer a rare opportunity to explore the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge. Get close-up looks at migrant and nesting shorebirds, learn about wildflowers, see deer tracks crossing coastal heath lands, and visit historic Great Point Lighthouse--you even get to climb to the top! Tours meet at the gate house just before the Wauwinet Inn parking lot, and are limited to six people. Only two trips are scheduled a day, and reservations are required. Tours are offered from June to October. Adults pay $30 and young people 15 and under pay $15.
22 Pleasant St
A descendant of one of the original settlers of Nantucket, Robert Pitman Grimes provides a personal tour in his roomy Suburban with commentary gleaned from research and personal experiences. Tours start at 10 AM, 1 and 3 PM and usually take about one and three-quarters hours. You can schedule a private tour for as many as eight people by appointment. The cost is $13.
Gail's Tours Inc.
A sixth-generation native, Gail Nickerson Johnson has a wealth of knowledge and a great sense of humor, which she shares generously on her tours. Her two air-conditioned vans can accommodate a total of 13 people. She offers sightseeing and private tours, including sunset, picnic, or beach excursions. Regular tours depart at 10 AM and 1 and 3 PM and the price is $13.
Back to top -->
Nantucket Cruises and Whale Watching
Since 1982, this Friendship sloop, owned and operated by Jim and Sue Genthner, has been offering three daily sails around Nantucket Sound plus a sunset cruise. The longest operating sailing charter on the island, Capt. Jim built the Endeavor, and if you wish, he will share his knowledge of traditional boat building with you. The sail cruises leave at 10 AM, 1 PM, 4 PM and sunset. In May and June, and September and October the 90-minute sail costs $22.50 per person regardless of age. In July and August the fare jumps to $25 per person. The sunset cruises are $30 and $35 respectfully.
For the children, the Endeavor offers a one-hour special sail each day at 11:30 AM for $15 per person. Or ask about the Songs and Stories of the Sea trip, which is fun for children ages 4 to 8, and the Fiddlin' on the Sea trip, which provides whaling-era instrumental music for families with older children. Both of the latter sails are also one-hour sails and cost $15 per person.
(800) 322-0013, (800) 942-5464 outside Mass.
In July and August the whale-watch vessel Yankee Spirit departs on Tuesdays only from Straight Wharf for an all-day trip (7 hours) to whale feeding grounds at the Great South Channel. Naturalists with the Center for Oceanic Research and Education of Gloucester provide the narration. The cost is $85 for adults and $45 for children younger than 12. Full galley service is available on the boat.
Nantucket Harbor Cruises
Nantucket Harbor Cruises offers several trips daily in season aboard the Anna W II, starting with a 90-minute morning marine cruise in which you pull lobster traps and learn about what's in the boat's touch tank. The cost is $25 per person regardless of age, but you must be at least 4 years old to come aboard. Captain Bruce Cowan is a naturalist and very knowledgeable about marine life as well as boats. We especially enjoy the evening sunset cruise, which is both romantic and relaxing. Bring your own beverages and sit at the boat's comfortable tables as you watch the boats come in through the fading light. The sunset cruise, also a 90-minute cruise, costs $30 per person.
Nantucket Harbor Cruises also offers an afternoon Ice Cream Cruise at 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM for $15. Here, children get complimentary ice cream and if they want, can steer the Anna W II.
Back to top -->