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8 Things To Know Before Your Nantucket Vacation

The island of Nantucket, MA, is among the most desired summer vacation and second home destinations in the USA.

It is known for its amazingly well preserved historic infrastructure, untouched and beautiful wildlife, and endless beaches.

Nantucket has been recognized as a National Historic Site thanks to the local architecture with perfectly preserved New England coastal buildings, shingle-style cottages, and the historic downtown with cobblestone streets.

But even though it is a relatively small island, Nantucket has 15 different neighborhoods and areas with their specifics.

According to Stephen Bowler – a partner and real estate agent at Congdon & Coleman, this is important to know if you plan to rent a home for your vacation.

Here are the other eight most important things to know when planning a trip to Nantucket.

8 Things To Know Before Your Nantucket Vacation

The right time to visit Nantucket is…

The high season on the island is in the summer.

If your goal is to spend as much time on the beaches of Nantucket, then you should plan on visiting it during the warmest months – July and August.

But if you want a quieter time, with fewer crowds on the streets and in the restaurants, then you may want to go to Nantucket during the shoulder season months of May, June, September, or early October.

Most of the venues are open then, and the prices are more affordable.

You can visit the island for the annual Christmas Stroll during the holidays if you like. 

Most eateries and businesses are closed in the winter and early spring.

Plus, the weather is not particularly favorable, so January, February, and March are not the best months for visiting Nantucket.

Getting to Nantucket

Nantucket is about 30 miles south of Cape Cod. You can get there via ferry or by air. There are year-round ferry services from the port of Hyannis, MA.

The Steamship Authority ferry takes about two hours and 15 minutes to get to Nantucket, and the passenger-only high-speed ferry by HyLine Cruises will take you through Nantucket Sound for less than an hour.

The fares for the ferry are from $75 to $94 for adults and from $42 to $65 for kids aged 5-12.

You can take your bike with the traditional ferry for only $8. But if you want to take the car too, the cost will be drastically higher – from $450 to $600 depending on the season and vehicle type.

There are also seasonal ferries by SeaStreak to Nantucket from New Jersey, New York City, and New Bedford during the summer.

Several commercial airlines offer flights all year round from Boston, New York, Washington DC, and a few other cities if you prefer flying.

The friendliness of local people

The permanent residents of Nantucket are about 11,000 people who are unified into a tight-knit community dedicated to preserving the historical heritage, culture, and nature on the island.

They are also very friendly to visitors, so don't be surprised if somebody stops to chat with you, tells you a story, or waves and smiles at you when you are in Nantucket.

Remember to wave to drivers who stop and let you cross the streets! This is considered common courtesy in Nantucket.

You may well run into someone famous there

Nantucket is a preferred destination for the rich and famous.

Some of them own second or third homes on the island, and others come to enjoy a vacation there and the top-notch local cuisine, the exclusive boutiques, and the parties on the beach.

So, don't be surprised if you end up bumping into well-known actors, TV personalities, politicians, athletes, bankers, and more when spending time in Nantucket.

Some people have jokingly called the island “the new Martha's Vineyard” because of the influx of famous and wealthy people.

Make sure to pack the right clothes and shoes for your trip

Like in most of coastal New England, the weather on Nantucket can be quite unpredictable. So, don't forget to pack a raincoat or sweater, an umbrella and suitable shoes for wet weather.

You may want to wear a pair of boat shoes for your ferry ride.

If you are going there at the peak of the summer season, don't forget your sunglasses and sunscreen, and of course beachwear, shorts, and other apparel for hot weather.

Keep in mind that wearing stilettos is not the best idea if you want to explore the historic downtown and walk its cobblestone streets. Instead, leave the high heels for the trendy bars and clubs.

The most suitable clothing for Nantucket is a nautical-inspired preppy style with different nautical elements and prints, ruffles, pastel colors, and of course, Nantucket Reds.

Check out the event schedule

While there are some famous spring and fall annual events in Nantucket, it is during the summer when the island hosts and organizes multiple different events of all types.

Various events celebrate art, wine, food, nature, wellness, entertainment, and more in Nantucket.

So, make sure to check out the festivals and events which will be held during your stay on the island at the official Nantucket Major Events Resource Page.

The amenities included in the rental

First of all, you don't need to worry about bringing your own towels or sheets when renting a private home in Nantucket.

They are all completely furnished and offer all of the comforts which you can expect to get in a hotel.

But some of the rentals on the island come with bonus amenities, such as beach towels, beach chairs, canoes, surfboards, bicycles, beach gear and toys, and more.

So, make sure to ask for what else is included in the price for your rental.

Be a responsible visitor

The local people, authorities, and non-profit organizations in Nantucket are all very dedicated to conserving nature and preserving the historical architecture and overview of the island.

So, as a visitor to this charming island, you should refrain from littering or disturbing the wildlife by feeding or trying to catch wild animals there.

Watch out if you are driving for crossing turtles, and don't attempt to touch them because they can bite pretty seriously!

You may want to consider bringing a reusable water bottle with you and also leaving the car behind when going on a vacation to Nantucket.

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