If you’re a regular around here, then my love and adoration for Nantucket is no secret. There is simply nowhere like it! I get so many questions about Nantucket and DMs from y’all saying that it’s on your travel bucket lists and my response is always the same: “put it at the TOP of your list!”
Nantucket is a 15 mile long little island that is about 30 miles off the shore of Massachusetts. It sits just south of Cape Cod. Nantucket is characterized by its history as a whaling hub, it’s gorgeous seagrass lined and sand dune-backed beaches, it’s grey shingled buildings, it’s unique neighborhoods, and its bustling town. Town is filled with cobblestone streets, packed with must-visit shops and restaurants, lined with charming wharves, and dotted with church steeples. I love the island for all its history, charm, and personality. The beaches alone are a reason to visit the island as each side of the island offers something different!
Nine Best Nantucket Beaches
Surfside is an all-around fan favorite beach on Nantucket’s south shore! Surfside is known for its snack bar, wide beach, and fun waves to swim in and body surf in (they can be shore break at times so keep this in mind with children). The snack bar is just so good! The Surfside Beach Shack is known for their burgers (which I usually get!) but I’m also partial to their lobster roll (because, Nantucket!). The shack has picnic tables to eat at or you can bring everything down to munch on while on the beach. It’s PERFECT and just what the doctor calls for on a Nantucket beach day. There is also a yummy taco truck too!Surfside is easy to get to too because there is a shuttle that runs from town to the beach in the summer months.
Ladies Beach is another favorite beach of mine on the south side of the island. The water is so cool and refreshing but very easy to warm up in after swimming around for a few minutes. The waves can get big so it’s not ideal for children but it’s very fun for swimming, body surfing, and surfing when the waves allow for it. The beach itself is simply stunning with white sand and swaying seagrass. My heart swells for East Coast beaches and Ladies Beach is no exception. Keep in mind that it’s tricky to get to and from this beach without a car (so it is less crowded than Surfside). However, if you are in a car, pop into Bartlett’s Farm to pick up delicious beach provisions.
Cisco Beach is the place to go for surfing. After a big storm, surfers race out the Cisco to pop into the lineup. The currents on this beach definitely make it better for strong swimmers so it’s not best for children. Nantucket Island Surf School is also located on Cisco Beach, which has surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, and wetsuits available to rent. On your way home from Cisco Beach, pay a visit to Cisco Brewers for a lobster roll and a nice cold beer (get the famous Whale’s Tale Pale Ale).
Sconset Beach is wonderful because it is the beach accessible below the little village of Sconset. It has a big wide beach so it is perfect for beach walks and beach picnics. Sconset has had a red tide as of late so it isn’t the best for swimming but it is still beautiful nonetheless. Tip: Sconset Beach is a perfect place on the island to watch the sunrise! We love eating at Summer House Bistro on the beach and strolling through Sconset before or after a day in the sun! For more on Sconset, visit my Sconset Travel Guide.
Great Point Beach
Great Point Beach is special because of how untouched it is. The beach is home of Great Point Lighthouse (also known as Nantucket Lighthouse), so while it is a long journey out to, it is worth it for the views. To get to Great Point Beach, you need a beach permit and four-wheel drive (yup, you drive on the beach). As a result, the beach is very quiet! It’s a gorgeous place to take in the sunrise too!
Madaket Beach is on the far west side of the island. So it is on the opposite side of Nantucket from Sconset Beach. Madaket can have strong ripe tides so locals love the beach for picnics on the incredibly soft sand. It’s THE place to be for an unbelievable sunset on Nantucket! After watching the sun dip, wander up to local-favorite, Millie’s, for a delicious, casual dinner of fish tacos.
Jetties Beach is a super convenient beach on Nantucket because it is a short walk or bike ride from town. As a result, it’s a very popular and crowded beach in the peak summer months. Jetties is a very family friendly beach because it has calm water and has lots of activities like volleyball, tennis courts, and a playground. You can take sailing lessons from Jetties Beach too. Jetties is also known for its beach restaurant called Sandbar.
You guessed it! Children’s Beach is perfect for children. It is right on the side of town so it is super convenient for families as no major schlepping is required. The beach is ideal for small children because the water is super shallow and the beach is the essentially wave-free.
Nobadeer is the beach on Nantucket that has a party and college kid reputation. You’ll find lots of twenty somethings setting up beach parties and body surfing and surfing. You can drive your car onto this beach so kids can play music out of their jeeps! I wouldn’t suggest it for a super children-friendly beach.
I hope you found this guide helpful for planning your next Nantucket beach day! Honestly, I think the beaches of Nantucket are one of the main reasons why the island is so special.
Photography by Edwin Eversole