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One of America's greatest upscale vacation destinations, Nantucket may not currently be on your vacation radar, but that's about to change. This beautiful island, located just off the coast of Massachusetts, has something for everyone to enjoy.
It's hard to imagine anywhere more relaxing. Head to beaches like Surfside to unroll your blanket, open a book and spend all day listening to the waves break on the pure white sand. Rent a sailing boat and glide out into the bay, fish for the abundant bass and bluefish or head back to dry land and enjoy a round of golf with friends.
From fine dining options like the Boarding House in Nantucket Town to the boutiques on Main Street, all of the conventional needs of tourists are catered for as well. So, for a fusion of vacation essentials, sublime coastline and sporting activities, Nantucket is just ideal.
For many visitors, a week in Nantucket is really just a week on the beach. Thanks to its upscale clientele, you can be sure that beaches like Surfside or the Children's Beach won't be noisy or packed with tourists, and you can always find a patch to stretch out in.
Dining is another one of Nantucket's strong points. The people who visit the island demand a high standard of cuisine, and restaurants like Corazon del Mar or Boarding House never disappoint. Places like Galley Beach also provide beautiful places to unwind after dinner with a beer or a cocktail.
Nantucket has an incredibly low crime rate and few vacation destinations allow kids to play so freely without parents needing to be too concerned. There's even a special Children's Beach with play areas and waves that never swamp the little ones.
Active vacationers can exhaust themselves sailing, surfing, swimming or kayaking in Nantucket. On dry land, there are golf courses like Miacomet, tennis clubs and even places to ride horses like Emerald Hollow Farm.
The name Nantucket is synonymous with fishing, which comes as no surprise for a community that started life as a whaling port. Nowadays, visitors can head to businesses like Albacore Charters and take a boat out into the bay with all the bait and tackle they need to land bluefish or sea bass.
Since beginning life as a whaling community, Nantucket's life has been firmly linked to the sea. You can join a historical tradition by renting a sailing craft or a kayak from Nantucket Community Sailing and exploring the coast of the island at your leisure.
If sailing or kayaking sound too energetic, Nantucket is an ideal destination for fishing fans. Rent a craft from companies like Albacore Charters and try to land local species like bluefish or striped bass. You might even land a shark.
Nantucket is ringed with incredibly beautiful coastline and it's rarely hard to find a patch of sand to call your own. Some of the most stunning locations include Cisco Beach, Madaket and Surfside - all on the south coast. They can easily be reached via the Wave shuttle bus.
The south coast of the island also enjoys some impressive surfing conditions. Beaches like Surfside are always popular among East Coast surfers and are a good place for novices to try their luck as well.
Nantucket's upmarket crowd also demands entertainment, and the island always delivers; check out the open air music on Jetties Beach and festivals like May's Wine Festival, June's Harborfest Celebration and a couple of Restaurant Weeks in June and September.
Nantucket is a superb summer destination. Between June and early September, temperatures are usually in the high 70s or 80s (with very occasional rainfall). Then again, high summer also brings the crowds and accommodation costs can go through the roof. As an alternative, try late spring (late April to early June).
Nantucket Memorial Airport might not cater for Airbus A320s, but flights arrive throughout the summer from New York JFK, New Bedford and Boston. After you touch down, the cheapest way into the city itself is by a Nantucket Regional Transit Authority bus which costs $2. There are also cab firms at the terminal and Hertz has an office at the airport if you need to pick up a rental vehicle.
Aside from flying, the best way to reach Nantucket Island is by ferry. If you are taking your car, you'll need to catch a service from Steamship Authority Ferries which departs from Hyannis and cost $17 per person.
Anyone driving to Nantucket will need to get to Hyannis, Massachusetts. From New York, take I-95 to Providence, then switch to Highway 195 then Highway 6 to Hyannis.
Megabus services to Hyannis run from New York City every day and can be a very cost-effective way to travel to Nantucket, while Bonanza Buses run from regional cities like Providence or Boston.
If you are traveling to Nantucket for seclusion and relaxation, the best accommodation option will probably be a furnished cottage or cabin on the shore. However, resorts like the Cottages at Boat Basin offer a neat compromise, offering hotel amenities, like a spa and restaurant, and individual cabins. There are also come beautiful inns on the island, including Ships Inn and the Union Street Inn - both of which are in Nantucket town. If you really want to splash out, resorts like the Wauwinet could be ideal, with their private beaches and luxury spa facilities.
Nantucket Town – The town of Nantucket is the heart of the island and home to the vast majority of the inns and guest houses. With its quaint blue wooden houses and bay filled with sailing ships, it's also a beautiful place to spend time. If you stay in town, you'll be close to great eateries like the Straight Wharf Restaurant and cultural attractions like the island's Theater Workshop, so it's an attractive place to look for accommodation.
Jetties Beach – Located a couple of miles north of Nantucket Town, Jetties Beach is an elite sailing community and, as the name suggests, one of the island's best beaches. However, the main attraction is the concert venue which overlooks the beach and regularly hosts classical and pop acts.
Polpis – Follow the road east from Nantucket Town and you'll reach Polpis, a beautiful coastal village. The village itself doesn't have much to offer beyond mansions and cottages, but around Polpis you'll find some of Nantucket's most attractive coves and beaches.
The main public transportation service on the island is The Wave, a bus network run by the Nantucket Regional Transit Authority. The Wave runs to all of the island's major beaches (with a fare of $2 each way) and to locations like Jetties Beach (for just $1 each way), so it's a very handy shuttle service.
For a tiny island, Nantucket has a huge number of reliable taxi companies. Rates are fixed between the town and major destinations. For example, taking a cab to Polpis will cost $21, and it costs $29 to get to Hoicks Hollow.
If you take your own vehicle or choose to rent when you arrive at the airport, getting around Nantucket is easy. The island is just 14 miles long by 3 miles wide, so it's hard to get lost. However, traffic in town can be a problem at the height of summer; gas costs are higher than on the mainland, and there is a lack of large parking lots in the center of town. If you don't mind hunting around for a spot, you'll be fine. Others might want to rent bikes and see the island by pedal power. Companies like Easy Riders Bicycles will be happy to set you up with a bike and rates aren't expensive.
Nantucket Town is the shopping center of the island, and Main Street is the town's best shopping street. You might actually be surprised by how many luxury boutiques and chains have a presence on the island. On Main Street alone you'll find a Ralph Lauren outlet along with independent stores like Benji's Boutique and Nantucket Looms. There shouldn't be a problem finding gifts with such a wide selection.
One of the side effects of being such a small island is that food prices in Nantucket are almost always higher than the mainland, so you might want to stock up before you catch the ferry. If you do need to shop for essentials, head to supermarkets like Stop & Shop of Fresh, which sells upmarket groceries, but don't expect any bargains.
If you love gourmet seafood, Nantucket is the place to be. The town is studded with incredible restaurants. Some of the most prestigious include Boarding House, which offers a traditional, "farm to table" experience, the Latin-American influenced Corazon del Mar and the Pearl, probably Nantucket's best seafood restaurant. Sayle’s Seafood is a great place to order a takeout lobster while if you just need a snack to keep you going, head to the Downyflake for delicious doughnuts.