Nantucket Day Trip: Exploring An Island Paradise

Imagine a day filled with breathtaking landscapes, quaint cobblestone streets, and a charming coastal atmosphere. Picture yourself exploring an island that seems to have it all – from pristine beaches to historical landmarks. Get ready for an unforgettable getaway as we take you on a virtual tour of Nantucket, a true paradise waiting to be discovered.

Getting to Nantucket

Ferry from Cape Cod

If you’re looking for a leisurely and scenic journey to Nantucket, taking a ferry from Cape Cod is a fantastic option. The ferry ride offers breathtaking views of the ocean, and many visitors find it to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. The ferries depart from several locations along Cape Cod, including Hyannis, Harwich Port, and Falmouth. The duration of the ferry ride can vary depending on the departure point, but it typically takes around 2-3 hours to reach Nantucket. You’ll have the opportunity to soak in the beauty of the surrounding waters as you approach the island, making it a memorable journey.

Flight from Boston

For those who prefer a quicker mode of transportation, taking a flight from Boston to Nantucket is a convenient option. Several airlines offer daily flights to the island, and the journey takes approximately one hour. The flights are relatively short, so you’ll have more time to explore and enjoy your day trip on Nantucket. Plus, the aerial views as you approach the island are simply breathtaking. Flying allows you to maximize your time on the island, making it an ideal choice for those with limited schedules.

Private Boat

If you have the luxury of owning or chartering a private boat, arriving on Nantucket by sea is a truly special experience. The island is surrounded by pristine waters, and sailing across the waves to reach its shores is a memorable adventure. You’ll have the freedom to navigate at your own pace, taking in the scenic coastline and enjoying the tranquility of the ocean. Keep in mind that you’ll need to check for docking availability in advance, as the marina can be quite busy during peak seasons.


For the ultimate luxurious and time-efficient mode of transportation, consider taking a helicopter to Nantucket. Helicopter services are available from several locations, including Boston and New York City. The flight duration is around 45 minutes, allowing you to reach the island quickly and efficiently. In addition to the convenience, the aerial perspective provides stunning views of the island and its surrounding waters. It’s an extravagant way to begin your day trip to Nantucket, making you feel like a VIP from the moment you take off.

Planning Your Day Trip

Choosing the Right Time of Year

When planning your day trip to Nantucket, considering the time of year is crucial. The island experiences a lovely range of seasons, each offering its own unique charm. If you enjoy warmer weather and bustling activities, summer is the perfect time to visit. The island comes alive with vibrant energy, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun on Nantucket’s beautiful beaches. Spring and fall are also delightful seasons, with fewer crowds and more peaceful surroundings. These seasons offer pleasant weather for outdoor activities like biking and hiking. Winter, while quieter, can be enchanting with its cozy atmosphere and festive events.

Deciding on Duration of the Trip

Determining how much time you want to spend on Nantucket is essential to make the most of your day trip. While a day trip can be fulfilling, if you have the flexibility, it’s worth considering an overnight stay to fully immerse yourself in the island’s charm. If you opt for a day trip, aim to arrive early in the morning and depart in the evening to maximize your time. This will give you ample opportunity to explore the island and experience its highlights. However, if you have the luxury of time, staying overnight will allow you to discover more hidden gems and take part in evening events.

Booking Accommodation in Advance

If you decide to extend your day trip by staying overnight, it’s crucial to book accommodation in advance. Nantucket offers a range of options, from cozy inns to luxurious resorts. Consider your preferences and budget when selecting where to stay. If you’re after a more affordable option, booking a room in advance at a local inn or bed and breakfast can be a great choice. If you’re looking for a more lavish experience, Nantucket boasts several high-end hotels and resorts. Whichever option you choose, make sure to reserve your accommodation well in advance, especially during peak seasons when availability can be limited.

Creating an Itinerary

To ensure a well-organized and memorable day trip to Nantucket, creating an itinerary is key. Start by researching the must-see attractions and activities on the island. Consider your interests and preferences when crafting your schedule. It’s a good idea to include a mix of historical sites, outdoor activities, culinary experiences, and leisurely strolls to get a well-rounded experience of Nantucket. Keep in mind the opening hours and transportation options between the attractions when planning your itinerary. Leave some flexibility in your schedule to allow for unexpected discoveries and to simply savor the island’s ambiance.

Nantucket Day Trip: Exploring An Island Paradise

Must-See Attractions

Brant Point Lighthouse

One of Nantucket’s most iconic landmarks, Brant Point Lighthouse is a must-visit attraction on the island. Located at the entrance of Nantucket Harbor, it offers stunning views of the surrounding coastline. Take a stroll along the picturesque beach and capture photos of the lighthouse against the backdrop of the ocean. The lighthouse is also a great place to witness beautiful sunsets, as the colors of the sky blend with the golden hues of the sand.

Whaling Museum

Immerse yourself in the rich history of Nantucket by visiting the Whaling Museum. This captivating museum showcases the island’s past as a prominent whaling hub. Explore exhibits that detail the life and work of Nantucket’s whalers, and learn about the impact of whaling on the island’s economy and culture. The museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts, including scrimshaw, whaling implements, and historic photographs. Don’t miss the rooftop observation deck, offering breathtaking views of the harbor.

Cisco Brewers

If you’re a fan of craft beer, wine, and spirits, a visit to Cisco Brewers should be on your itinerary. Located in the heart of Nantucket, this local brewery is known for its delicious libations and vibrant atmosphere. Take a tour of the brewery and learn about the brewing process, or simply relax in the spacious outdoor seating area and enjoy a refreshing drink. Cisco Brewers also hosts live music events and food trucks, creating a lively and enjoyable experience for visitors.

Sankaty Head Light

For panoramic views of Nantucket’s rugged coastline, head to Sankaty Head Light. This historic lighthouse is located in Siasconset and offers breathtaking vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. After a short stroll along the coastal path, you’ll be rewarded with serene views of the waves crashing against the cliffs. The lighthouse itself is a marvel to behold, with its distinct red and white stripes contrasting against the vibrant green surroundings.

Great Point Lighthouse

Located on the remote north-eastern tip of Nantucket, Great Point Lighthouse is worth the trek for its sheer beauty and secluded atmosphere. Accessible by four-wheel drive vehicle or by walking along the beach, the lighthouse offers sweeping views of the ocean and the picaresque Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge. Pack a picnic and make a day of it, immersing yourself in the tranquil surroundings and catching a glimpse of the native wildlife.

Nantucket Historical Association

To delve further into Nantucket’s history and culture, a visit to the Nantucket Historical Association is a must. The association manages several museums and historic sites on the island, including the Whaling Museum mentioned earlier. Dive into the island’s past at the Hadwen House and learn about Nantucket’s prosperity during the whaling era. Explore the Quaker Meeting House, a National Historic Landmark that offers insight into Nantucket’s religious heritage. The Nantucket Historical Association provides a comprehensive look into the island’s fascinating history.

Jetties Beach

When it comes to enjoying the sun and sand, Jetties Beach is a popular choice among locals and visitors alike. This family-friendly beach offers calm waters, making it ideal for swimming and sunbathing. You’ll find ample facilities such as restrooms, a playground, and beachside dining options. Whether you’re looking to relax on the soft sand, take a dip in the refreshing water, or enjoy a game of beach volleyball, Jetties Beach provides the perfect backdrop for a leisurely day by the sea.

Madaket Beach

If you prefer a quieter beach experience, venture to Madaket Beach. Located on the western end of the island, this tranquil beach offers stunning sunsets and serene surroundings. Take a long walk along the sandy shoreline, collecting seashells and immersing yourself in the beauty of the dunes. The beach is also a popular spot for surfing, so if you’re feeling adventurous, consider catching some waves or simply enjoy watching the skilled surfers in action.

Cisco Beach

For those seeking a more lively beach atmosphere, Cisco Beach is the place to be. Known for its excellent surf conditions, this beach attracts surfers from near and far. Even if you’re not catching waves yourself, watching the surfers ride the ocean swells can be quite a spectacle. The beach also offers stunning views of the Atlantic and is a popular spot for beach picnics and sunbathing. Be sure to pack a beach towel, sunscreen, and a good book to make the most of your time at Cisco Beach.

Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge

Nature lovers will appreciate the beauty and diversity of the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge. Stretching along the northern tip of Nantucket, the refuge is home to a variety of wildlife and offers scenic trails for exploration. Take a guided tour or venture on your own, keeping an eye out for seals, shorebirds, and other native species. The refuge is a paradise for birdwatchers, with the opportunity to spot rare and migratory birds in their natural habitat. Don’t forget your camera to capture the stunning landscapes and unique wildlife encounters.

Exploring the Island

Renting Bicycles

One of the best ways to explore Nantucket is by renting bicycles. The island is relatively small and offers scenic bike paths that allow you to take in the beauty at a leisurely pace. Numerous rental shops are scattered across the island, making it easy to find a bike that suits your needs. Pedal your way through charming neighborhoods, along the picturesque coastline, and through the lush moors. Bicycles provide a sense of freedom and allow you to uncover hidden gems that may be missed by other modes of transportation.

Walking Tours

If you prefer a more guided experience, consider joining a walking tour of Nantucket. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides who provide fascinating insights into the island’s history, architecture, and culture. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the charming streets of Nantucket, marvel at the beautifully preserved historic homes, and learn about the island’s past. Walking tours cater to various interests, whether you’re interested in a general overview or a more specific theme, such as whaling history or ghost stories.

Guided Bus Tours

For a comprehensive overview of Nantucket’s highlights, hop on a guided bus tour. These tours allow you to sit back and relax as you’re taken around the island to visit its most noteworthy attractions. A knowledgeable guide will share interesting facts and stories about each location, allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of Nantucket’s heritage. From the comfort of the bus, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the island’s beauty, stopping at key landmarks for photo opportunities and exploration.

Renting a Car

If you prefer the convenience and flexibility of your own wheels, renting a car on Nantucket is an option worth considering. Having a car allows you to independently explore the island at your own pace, making impromptu stops and discovering hidden gems along the way. While Nantucket’s size makes it easy to navigate, keep in mind that during peak seasons, parking can be challenging in popular areas. It’s advisable to familiarize yourself with parking regulations and consider leaving the car behind in favor of alternative transportation when visiting downtown Nantucket.

Nantucket Day Trip: Exploring An Island Paradise

Culinary Delights

Seafood Restaurants

No visit to Nantucket is complete without indulging in the island’s incredible seafood offerings. From lobster rolls to freshly caught fish, Nantucket’s seafood restaurants are renowned for their quality and flavor. Many establishments offer waterfront dining, allowing you to enjoy delicious meals while taking in the picturesque views. Explore the local culinary scene and savor dishes such as clam chowder, oysters, and scallops – all prepared using the freshest ingredients from the surrounding waters.

Farm-to-Table Dining

Nantucket’s farm-to-table dining scene provides a delightful culinary experience for those seeking fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Several restaurants on the island pride themselves on supporting local farms and fisheries, offering seasonal menus that showcase the best of Nantucket’s produce. Enjoy dishes that celebrate the island’s agricultural heritage while enjoying a cozy and intimate dining atmosphere. Farm-to-table dining not only provides a delicious meal but also supports sustainable practices and the local community.

Local Bakeries and Cafés

To satisfy your sweet tooth or take a break from exploring, Nantucket’s bakeries and cafés offer delightful treats and refreshing beverages. Grab a freshly baked pastry or a cup of locally roasted coffee and savor the flavors as you relax in a charming café or enjoy a picnic in one of Nantucket’s scenic spots. The island’s pastry shops are known for their delectable pies, cookies, and cakes, providing the perfect indulgence during your day trip.

Wine and Cheese Tasting

For a sophisticated and indulgent experience, consider a wine and cheese tasting on Nantucket. The island boasts a selection of wineries that offer tours and tastings of their locally produced wines. Sample the vineyard’s finest creations while learning about the winemaking process and the unique characteristics of Nantucket’s terroir. Pair your wine with artisanal cheeses, enhancing the flavors and creating a truly memorable culinary experience. Cheers to a day filled with exploration and gourmet delights.

Outdoor Activities

Beach Hopping

With its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, beach hopping is a popular outdoor activity on Nantucket. From family-friendly spots to secluded stretches of sand, the island offers a diverse range of beach options. Spend your day moving from one stunning beach to another, enjoying the sun, surf, and breathtaking ocean views. Each beach has its own charm and atmosphere, providing plenty of opportunities for relaxation, swimming, beachcombing, or simply basking in the beauty of your surroundings.

Surfing and Paddleboarding

For those seeking a bit of excitement and adventure, Nantucket’s surf breaks and calm bays provide excellent conditions for surfing and paddleboarding. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, you’ll find suitable spots around the island to catch a wave or cruise along the tranquil waters. Several surf schools and rental shops offer equipment and lessons, so you can safely enjoy these thrilling water sports. Get ready to embrace the ocean and experience the thrill of riding the waves.

Kayaking and Canoeing

Exploring Nantucket’s scenic waterways by kayak or canoe is a peaceful and immersive way to connect with nature. Paddle your way through calm ponds, salt marshes, and inlets, taking in the abundant wildlife and stunning landscapes. Kayaking and canoeing allow you to venture into areas that are inaccessible by other means, giving you a unique perspective of Nantucket’s natural beauty. Rent equipment from local outfitters or join guided tours to ensure a safe and fulfilling experience.

Fishing Charters

Nantucket is a haven for fishing enthusiasts, with its rich fishing grounds teeming with a variety of species. Book a fishing charter to embark on an unforgettable angling adventure. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned angler, the experienced captains and crew will guide you to the best fishing spots, increasing your chances of landing a prized catch. Cast your line and enjoy the thrill of reeling in a striper, bluefish, or even a trophy-sized tuna. Fishing charters are a fantastic way to combine sport and relaxation while exploring Nantucket’s waters.


If you’re an avid golfer, Nantucket offers several world-class golf courses that blend seamlessly with the island’s natural surroundings. Test your skills on rolling fairways and manicured greens, all while enjoying breathtaking views of the ocean and dunes. The golf courses on Nantucket cater to players of all levels, from beginners to professionals. Pack your clubs and experience the thrill of playing a round of golf in this idyllic island setting.

Nature Walks and Hiking

Nantucket’s diverse landscapes provide ample opportunities for nature walks and hiking. Lace up your hiking boots and explore the island’s network of trails that wind through forests, meadows, and coastal areas. The various trails offer different difficulty levels, catering to all levels of fitness and experience. Immerse yourself in the island’s tranquil nature, keeping an eye out for wildlife and enjoying serene vistas. Nantucket’s hiking trails connect you with the island’s natural wonders and ensure a memorable outdoor experience.

Nantucket Day Trip: Exploring An Island Paradise

Shopping and Art

Main Street Boutiques

Nantucket’s Main Street is a shopper’s paradise, lined with charming boutiques offering a range of unique and stylish goods. From clothing and accessories to home decor and artisanal crafts, you’ll find an array of beautiful items to browse and purchase. Explore the boutiques at your own pace, discovering locally made treasures and fashionable pieces that capture the essence of Nantucket’s coastal style. Stroll down the street, popping into the various shops, and take home a piece of Nantucket’s charm.

Art Galleries

As an island known for its natural beauty, it’s no surprise that Nantucket is a haven for artists and art enthusiasts. Numerous art galleries showcase a wide range of styles and mediums, featuring works by both local and internationally renowned artists. Wander through the galleries, admiring a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, photography, and more. Whether you’re a seasoned art collector or simply appreciate the beauty of visual arts, Nantucket’s art scene offers a feast for the eyes.

Antique Shops

For those with an appreciation for timeless and unique treasures, Nantucket’s antique shops are a must-visit. These charming establishments are filled with a variety of classic pieces, from furniture and home decor to vintage jewelry and collectibles. Stroll through the aisles, discovering one-of-a-kind items that tell stories of the past. Nantucket’s antique shops offer an opportunity to bring a piece of history back home with you, adding a touch of elegance and nostalgia to your day trip.

Nantucket Farmers Market

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in a vibrant and lively atmosphere, a visit to the Nantucket Farmers Market is a must. Held weekly during the summer months, this bustling market showcases the island’s bounty of fresh produce, homemade treats, and artisanal products. Sample locally grown fruits and vegetables, indulge in freshly baked goods, and browse through a variety of unique crafts. The Nantucket Farmers Market provides an opportunity to support local farmers and artisans while enjoying a delightful community gathering.

Events and Festivals

Daffodil Festival

Every spring, Nantucket bursts into a vibrant display of yellow blooms during the annual Daffodil Festival. This lively event celebrates the arrival of spring and the island’s rich floral heritage. The festival features a range of activities, including parades, art shows, and flower-themed competitions. Immerse yourself in the sea of daffodils that adorn the streets and join in the festivities. The Daffodil Festival brings a burst of color and cheer to Nantucket, creating a joyous atmosphere for locals and visitors alike.

Nantucket Wine Festival

Wine enthusiasts will delight in the Nantucket Wine Festival, an annual event that celebrates the world of fine wines and gourmet cuisine. The festival brings together renowned winemakers, sommeliers, and top chefs for a series of tastings, dinners, and seminars. Attendees have the opportunity to sample an impressive selection of wines from around the globe and indulge in exquisite culinary creations. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply appreciate a good glass of vino, the Nantucket Wine Festival is an experience not to be missed.

Independence Day Celebrations

Nantucket’s Independence Day celebrations are a true testament to the island’s patriotic spirit. Join the locals in commemorating the Fourth of July with a range of festive events and festivities. Start your day by attending the charming Main Street parade, where you’ll witness creative floats, live music, and an abundance of red, white, and blue. The celebrations continue with picnics, concerts, and fireworks over the harbor. Immerse yourself in the joyous atmosphere, and take part in a memorable celebration of American independence.

Nantucket Christmas Stroll

For a festive and magical experience, plan your day trip to Nantucket during the annual Christmas Stroll. Held during the first weekend in December, this beloved event marks the official start of the holiday season on the island. The streets are adorned with twinkling lights, and shops and galleries are beautifully decorated, creating a cozy and inviting ambiance. Enjoy carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, and a visit from Santa Claus himself. The Christmas Stroll is a time-honored tradition that brings together the community and visitors for a joyous celebration of the holiday season.

Tips for a Memorable Day Trip

Pack Layers for Changing Weather

Nantucket’s weather can be quite unpredictable, so it’s essential to pack layers for your day trip. Bring a light jacket or sweater that you can easily take off or put on depending on the temperature. Even during the summer months, evenings can be cool, so having an extra layer will ensure your comfort throughout the day.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

Exploring Nantucket often involves a fair amount of walking, so wearing comfortable shoes is a must. Opt for sturdy and supportive footwear that will allow you to navigate various terrains comfortably. Whether you’re strolling along the beach, exploring historic sites, or hiking nature trails, comfortable shoes will ensure you can enjoy your day without discomfort.

Stay Hydrated

With its sunny climate and outdoor activities, it’s important to stay hydrated during your day trip to Nantucket. Carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day. You can find water fountains in various locations, ensuring you have easy access to fresh water. Staying hydrated will help you make the most of your day and avoid any discomfort caused by dehydration.

Bring Sunscreen

Protecting your skin from the sun’s rays is crucial while exploring Nantucket. Apply sunscreen generously and frequently, especially if you’ll be spending time at the beach or engaging in outdoor activities. Don’t forget to cover exposed areas like your face, neck, arms, and legs. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses will also provide extra protection against the sun.

Respect Local Wildlife and Environment

Nantucket’s stunning natural beauty is home to various wildlife species and fragile ecosystems. It’s important to respect and preserve the island’s environment during your visit. Avoid littering and dispose of trash responsibly. Keep a safe distance from wildlife and refrain from feeding or approaching them. Admire the beauty of Nantucket’s flora and fauna from a distance, ensuring they remain undisturbed.

Observe Traffic and Parking Regulations

When exploring Nantucket by car, it’s crucial to observe traffic rules and parking regulations. The island can get busy during peak seasons, and parking spaces may be limited. Familiarize yourself with parking areas and time restrictions to avoid any fines or inconveniences. Additionally, be mindful of pedestrians and cyclists while driving, especially in downtown areas.

Try Local Specialties

Nantucket is famous for its culinary delights, so make sure to try some of the island’s local specialties during your day trip. Indulge in freshly caught seafood, savor the island’s renowned lobster rolls, and treat yourself to homemade ice cream or Nantucket’s renowned cranberry pie. Sampling the local cuisine allows you to immerse yourself in the island’s culture and flavors.

Capture Memories

Nantucket’s beauty is something to be cherished, so don’t forget to capture memories of your day trip. Bring a camera or use your smartphone to document the stunning landscapes, charming streets, and memorable moments. From breathtaking sunsets to historic landmarks, every corner of Nantucket offers a photograph-worthy scene. These memories will allow you to relive your day trip and share your experiences with others.

Getting Back

Ferry Schedule

When it’s time to leave Nantucket and return to your starting point, familiarize yourself with the ferry schedule. Ferries depart from the island at various times throughout the day, so it’s important to plan accordingly to ensure you don’t miss your ride back. Be mindful of the duration of the ferry ride and the time it takes to reach your departure point, especially if you have other travel arrangements to make.

Flight Departure Information

If you’re flying back to your starting location, check the departure information for your flight. Ensure you’re aware of the departure time and any necessary check-in procedures. Allow yourself enough time to reach the airport, accounting for potential traffic or transportation delays. It’s always a good idea to arrive at the airport well in advance to ensure a smooth departure.

Private Boat Departure

If you arrived on Nantucket by private boat, it’s essential to plan your departure in advance. Check the marina’s availability and reserve your departure time. Coordinate with the marina staff to ensure a hassle-free departure, considering factors such as tidal conditions and weather forecasts. It’s advisable to leave ample time before sunset to ensure a safe and comfortable journey back.

Helicopter Service

If you’re departing Nantucket by helicopter, communicate with the service provider to confirm the departure time and any necessary arrangements. Helicopter services operate on a precise schedule, so it’s crucial to be punctual. Make sure to leave enough time to reach the helipad, accounting for traffic and transportation logistics. Flying back by helicopter offers a swift and luxurious return, allowing you to savor your Nantucket memories even as you bid farewell to the island.

In conclusion, a day trip to Nantucket offers a range of activities and experiences that will create lasting memories. From the moment you arrive on the island, whether by ferry, flight, private boat, or helicopter, you’ll be greeted by the island’s natural beauty and charming atmosphere. Plan your day trip carefully, considering the time of year, duration of the trip, and creating an itinerary that allows you to make the most of your time. Explore Nantucket’s must-see attractions, indulge in its culinary delights, and immerse yourself in outdoor activities that showcase the island’s beauty. Visit the local shops, galleries, and take part in the vibrant events and festivals that add an extra touch of magic to your day trip. Remember to follow the tips provided to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience. As you wrap up your day on Nantucket, make sure to check departure schedules and transportation options to ensure a smooth journey back. Nantucket is truly an island paradise waiting to be explored, and with careful planning and a sense of adventure, your day trip is sure to be an unforgettable experience.