Just 30 miles south of mainland Massachusetts, Nantucket is the ultimate East Coast island escape.
Over half of the land on the island is conserved and protected from future building and development, so the nature and wildlife on this island are gorgeous.
The small island has a coastline of 82 miles of beaches.
Thanks to the efforts of the local conservation organizations, the authorities, and the community of Nantucket, every single beach is open to the public and free to access.
This is a stark difference from the neighboring New England coastal destinations like Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, where many beaches are private.
If you are going to Nantucket, you can be pretty sure that you will find the perfect beach for your liking because you get to choose from over 30 beaches on all shores of this island.
You can even rent a house close to the beach that you prefer for your stay.
Here are six of the best beaches in Nantucket and some ideas on what to do there.
- Sconset Beach
Sconset is the name that the locals lovingly call the charming village of Siasconset on the east end of Nantucket.
The village is home to some of the most iconic and Instagrammed rose-covered cottages with weathered gray cedar shakes and blooming gardens.
Sconset Beach is right next to the village and can be reached via one of the most picturesque and romantic walking paths in the country – the famous Sconset Bluff Walk.
The path is only a mile long but passes through the prettiest weathered gray cottages and gardens and reaches the bluffs or the beach.
The eastern shore beach is wide, with grassy dunes and fine white sand. It is the place to be if you want to greet the sunrise while vacationing in Nantucket.
Plus, it leads to the historic Sankaty Head Lighthouse, another one of the most Instagrammed sites on the island.
- Jetties Beach
Jetties Beach is among the most popular beaches in Nantucket. It is at a 10-minute walking distance from town and is on the north shore, on the coast of the warmer, calmer, and shallower Nantucket Sound.
It is suitable for families with children and people who enjoy all comforts and security while spending time on the beach.
There are lifeguards, restrooms, a skate park, a playground, several volleyball nets, a tennis court, changing rooms, a pavilion, and beach umbrella and chair rentals on site.
Plus, it is home to the Sandbar Beach Bar and Restaurant, where you can enjoy a chilled craft cocktail and delicious food, such as fresh oysters, lobster rolls, lobster Frites, or tacos, sandwiches, and burgers with your toes in the sand.
Jetties is a perfect place to lounge and gaze at the super yachts and boats rolling in and out of the harbor and the beautiful Nantucket Sound.
Or you can take a leisurely stroll and find some hidden treasures, like sea glass and seashells.
- Nobadeer Beach
Nobadeer Beach is a surfer’s paradise and a favorite spot for young, adventurous vacationers and watersports lovers.
It is located on the south shore of Nantucket, where the currents are stronger, and there is plenty of surf.
The beach is close to the Nantucket Airport, so you can watch the planes arriving and leaving the island.
It is home to the ACK Surf School, where you can take some private or group lessons or rent a surfboard, SUP, and other water sports gear and wetsuits.
The beach is also preferred for kite flying and surfcasting.
It has lifeguards and nearby food trucks, but keep in mind that you will need to walk through a steep incline to reach Nobadeer Beach.
Beach driving is permitted there at certain set hours if you have a permit.
- Francis Street Beach
Francis Street Beach is a 5-minute walk from downtown and is a small but charming beach.
The small beach offers a spectacular view of Nantucket Harbor. There is a jungle gym and restrooms, as well as a kayak rental. But there are no lifeguards.
It is perfect for kids and for renting a kayak and enjoying some paddling or swimming because the water in the harbor is calm and warm.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can rent a kayak and paddle to the Creeks or to Coatue from there.
Or you can go on the nearby Sunset Cruise and enjoy sailing around the harbor and the view of the sunset and the island from the sea.
The 1.5-hour cruise departs every evening from Straight Wharf, which is at a walking distance of fewer than 10 minutes from Francis Street Beach.
- Brant Point Beach
Brant Point Beach can be reached by foot or bike from downtown.
Even though it is considered a swimming beach, it is also suitable for taking a stroll or enjoying a picnic while watching the boats and yachts arriving and leaving the harbor.
The current at this beach is more robust than that at the other north shore beaches, and there is high boat traffic.
Still, it is perfect for welcoming and waving goodbye to the people on the ferries.
The wide and sandy beach is also a preferred spot for photos and even for weddings.
The beach is next to the second oldest working lighthouse in the USA – Brant Point Lighthouse, which is one of the landmarks of Nantucket.
- Madaket Beach and Smith’s Point
Madaket Beach is on the west shore of Nantucket and is considered among the most beautiful and top Insta-worthy locations on the island. This is mainly because of the spectacular sunsets which can be watched from there.
The beach is more secluded than other beaches, and there are very few buildings nearby to ruin the view of the untouched flora and fauna in the area.
While the sand is fine and soft, the water can be pretty rough, which makes it a preferred spot by experienced surfers.
Smith’s Point is better known as Esther’s island.
This stunningly beautiful barrier beach is 1.5 miles long and is at the westernmost point of Nantucket, so it is another perfect place to admire the sun setting over the ocean.
It is next to the village of Madaket and has both south and north-facing shorelines and rolling dunes in between. The remote beach is perfect for bird watching, seal spotting, and fishing.