If you’re reading this post because you’re thinking of going to Nantucket STOP. GO BOOK YOUR TICKETS! And then come back.
Perfect, you made the right choice.
Cobblestone roads, INCREDIBLE beaches, island vibes, amazing food, stunning scenery, a party atmosphere as well as chilled relaxing settings there is literally nothing NOT to like about Nantucket Island.
Nantucket is my #1 FAVORITE spot EVER. It does make me laugh a little that I’ve travelled literally as far as possible away from my home of Massachusetts, America and yet my all time favorite spot is less than 100 miles away from my front door.
I mean, look at it…
Unfortunately, this kind of beauty doesn’t come without a price.
BUT there are ways to do Nantucket in a day and keep your costs relatively low.
Nantucket is an island 30 miles off of the mainland of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. There is a small airport on the island with flights from D.C., Boston and New York City but majority of people get to Nantucket via ferry boats that leave from Hyannis, Cape Cod. There are two boat companies: Hyline and Steamship Authority that both run two types of boats, traditional ‘slow’ boats that take around 2.5 hours, and fast ferries which will get you there in just 1.
The price jumps pretty drastically from a slow boat to a fast boat so if I’m trying to save money I usually take the earliest slow boat there and the latest fast boat back (so that I’m not too wiped out to drive home).
The boat ride is smooth and usually pretty pleasant. I love taking the boat to Nantucket because it really drives home the fact that you’re going to and island and removing yourself from the ‘rest of the world.’ It kind of helps me start to relax and get into vacation mode, and what could be better than that?
All of the Hyline and Steamship ferries will deliver you straight into the middle of bustling downtown Nantucket! Ok, you’ll probably be tempted to spend your first few hours in ACK strolling Milk and India Streets and popping into shop after shop, but save it for the end! It’s a beach day!!
Either pack a lunch with you or hit up one of the many spots along downtown Nantucket for a sandwich for the beach. Provisions is a popular choice as well as XX and XX. If you’re looking to save money the cheapest place in town for a sandwich is the Stop and Shop by the boat basin. Right as you walk in and to the right they have an assortment of pre-made foot-long sub sandwiches for about $5 that are actually pretty good. The all-time best place to grab a sandwich in Nantucket though?
YUM YUM YUM.
It’s not really walkable from town but if you rent bikes it’s totally achievable. It’s kind of tucked away on Cliff Road but look for a mailbox with it’s logo flower sticker (it’s that same flower sticker you’ve probably spotted on about two dozen Land Rovers and Jeeps weaving through those cobblestone roads) and turn down the long gravelly driveway towards what looks like a little house with a giant lawn and a wraparound porch. I don’t even have any recommendations for what you should get there because you literally CAN’T LOSE. IT’S ALL DELICIOUS. But do get one of their homemade cookies… and a Matt Fee Tea…. and maybe an extra loaf of bread for later… and definitely a flower logo sticker to put on your car… and ok, maybe a T-shirt.
Ok, now that you’re covered on food time to get to the beach. There’s an abundance of options but here’s a little run-down.
- Nobadeer: The party beach! This is the cool beach you probably see on Instagram absolutely packed with people on July 4th. This is a drive on beach so you’re likely to see a bunch of Land Rovers, Jeeps and other 4WD’s lined up along the beach and people set up to stay out all day. There’s good surf and great boogie boarding conditions. This is the beach for games, people watching, and partying. Note: this beach is best accessed by car. If you’re relying on the bus take the bus to Surfside and walk down the beach for about 25 minutes.
- Surfside: Surfside is super easy to get to by bus and even bike if you don’t mind a longer ride from town. Great boogie boarding and there is a snack bar at the top of the beach by the parking lot.
- Jetties: While Nobadeer and Surfside have bigger surf Jetties and Steps are generally pretty flat and calm. A great family beach for families with younger kids or less confident swimmers. Jetties has a big beach restaurant at the top where you can get burgers and soda, etc.
- Steps: Just down the beach from Jetties but much less crowded. Steps is truly stunning and rivals Nobadeer with my favorite beach in Nantucket. Perfect beach to ride bikes to from downtown ACK.
About getting to the beach… if you’ve got a bike, grab a little map of the island (you can find them free from pretty much everywhere) and head off. If you’re on foot, don’t worry, the NRTA Wave Bus is actually pretty awesome. It runs frequently and anywhere between $1 and $3 per ride.
After the beach there’s only one place to be and that is Cisco Brewery. How to even describe this place? An outdoor beer garden located in the center of farming fields packed with families, locals, dogs, college students and everyone and anyone else enjoying a cold one after the beach. Live music, food trucks, freshly brewed beers, summery cocktails, AH take me bACK. This place is always PACKED so expect a crowd. Attire is anything from barefoot from the beach to a nicer sundress…anything goes.
Afterwards, have dessert before dinner and head to The Juice Bar in town before the after-diner line gets too long. You’ll be able to spot it by the GIGANTIC queue of people weaving their way down the street or the smell of freshly made waffle cones wafting out of the open window. FYI it’s cash only and its super delicious.
Looking for dinner? My #1 spot is beachy-casual Millie’s in Madaket for fish tacos with a stunning sunset view. I save room all day for the Step’s Beach lobster quesadillas washed down with Millie’s Margaritas, OMG I’m drooling just thinking about it.
They also opened a take-out branch in town called Millie’s Dockside which is open real late, like 3am, pictured below.
Feeling a little fancier? CRU on Straight Wharf has incredible food and even better people watching but be warned, it will 100% break the bank.
Lost track of time? If you spent too long at Cisco and need to catch your ferry stop by Oath Pizza on Straight Wharf for a craft pizza. My favorite is the Spicy Mother Clucker.
After dinner take a stroll down Straight Wharf and ogle at the super yachts parked along the tiny pier. It’s best at night because the insides of the boat are all lit up and you can really crane your neck and try to see who’s in there. It’s like watching an episode of Below Deck come to life.
If you’re only staying in Nantucket for the day this is around the time you’ll probably have to catch the last ferry back to Hyannis and head home, I feel for you, I really do.
This is an AWESOME day trip and if that’s all you can swing for right now STILL DO IT. YOU’LL HAVE AN EPIC DAY. But, if you managed to find a place to stay (Or if you desperately posted on Facebook while at Cisco brewery begging that one friend you know who has a house on the island to let you sleep on their garage floor—-may or may not be guilty of that one) get ready for Even More Fun!
*I’ve also had friends who have called some of the B&Bs around the island right before the last ferry left and asked for a last minute deal and they’ve had some major success but I’ve never had the guts to do that.*
Anyways, about the Even More Fun, Nantucket nightlife is without a doubt my favorite nightlife ever. People on Nantucket know how to party and after long, hot days at the beach a big night out is just what the captain ordered.
My ALL TIME #1 FAVORITE bar in the WORLD is The Chicken Box.
Don’t miss it! It’s a total dive but I’ve never in my life had more fun on a night out than there. I like Monday nights for the parties that Jack Wills puts on there but honestly any night is going to be a good time. They have some really good live music nearly every night, I got to see Collie Buddz there two years ago which was awesome and I know Ziggy Marley is playing there this July which is guaranteed to be a good time.
There’s also Grey Lady which is a restaurant by day and turns into more of a bar at night. The Gazebo which is right in town by the Hyline Ferry dock. Straight Wharf which is right by the Gazebo. And so many other places, there’s definitely no shortage of places to drink in Nantucket.
And that’s your day in Nantucket! Wake up the next morning and repeat for as long as you’re lucky enough to be living the #islandlife.
Want to know more? As always feel free to leave me a comment below (if you couldn’t already tell I am obsessed with talking about this island) and if you LIKE this post feel free to SHARE it 🙂