You could ask ten people to name their favorite Nantucket beaches and you’d probably get ten different answers. I didn’t include a section on beaches in my Nantucket guide because I love so many beaches on this island and really don’t think you can go wrong, but a few of you requested a list of my family’s favorite spots and I was all too happy to run around the island snapping photos of beautiful beaches! I’ll include a little blurb on what I love about each one so you can decide which ones are the best fit for you and your crew, but please know this is not a comprehensive list of Nantucket beaches but rather an edit of the spots we’ve returned to year after year.
MY FAVORITE BEACHES ON NANTUCKET
I love Fisherman’s because it’s close to my family’s house and not nearly as crowded as its neighbor, Surfside. We actually took some of our engagement pictures here because we knew the beach wouldn’t be too busy! It has my favorite kind of waves (where you need to pay attention, but you aren’t afraid for your life… you’ll notice I didn’t include Cisco Beach on this list 😉) and the softest sand of anywhere on the island. I love the view of the sand dunes as you walk down the wooden steps onto the path to the beach… just a pretty, picturesque spot where you won’t feel on top of other beachgoers!
Remember our sunrise outing to Great Point last year? It was one of the highlights of the summer and I had to include it here if you’re looking for a family friendly beach that’s way off the beaten path. The view of the lighthouse, the seals, and the sunrise are worth every minute it takes to get out there! (Of course if you’re staying in town, walking on the beach at Brant Point Lighthouse is a much easier outing to pull off!)
You’ve heard me rave about the sunset from Galley Beach restaurant but next door Jetties Beach serves up the same sunset at a much lower price. This is a great kid-friendly beach where lifeguards are on duty with virtually no waves, a snack bar, restrooms, playground, and ample parking. I’m pretty sure we took at least five years’ worth of Christmas card photos here growing up!
We love picking up picnic fare from Bartlett’s Farm and heading down the long dirt road to Ladies Beach. The view from the top of the hill is one of my favorite views on the island with swaying dune grass as far as the eye can see. We recently added a print of Ladies Beach to our laundry room!
Millie’s is my favorite restaurant on the island for a myriad of reasons: my cousins and siblings have worked there for years, we had their food truck at our welcome party the night before our wedding, and of course their margaritas, fish tacos, and grilled Mexican corn which never get old no matter how many times I order each of them. But my favorite reason of all? The fact that you can put your name down for a table, walk to Madaket Beach to catch the out-of-this-world sunset, and head back to the restaurant for dinner. It doesn’t get better than that!
If you’re looking for peace and quiet (with a view of Sankaty lighthouse off in the distance), Quidnet is the place to go. A ten minute walk down the beach will bring you to a massive red buoy that washed ashore during a winter storm earlier this year.
I’m perhaps a little biased as we had our wedding reception at the Summer House overlooking ‘Sconset Beach but there’s nothing I don’t love about this spot. It’s walking distance from coffee and muffins from ‘Sconset Market, sandwiches from Claudette’s, or a sit-down lobster roll lunch at the Summer House Beachside Bistro. I love to do the ‘Sconset bluff walk in the morning (more details in my Nantucket guide) and then come to ‘Sconset Beach for a dip in the afternoon.
Drive past the stunning homes of Cliff Road and head down a steep set of stairs to Steps Beach on the north shore for gentle surf and sweeping views of Nantucket Sound. This place is pure magic at sunset!
Surfside is a popular spot on the south shore for beachgoers who value convenience over cool factor. It’s popular among tourists because of the convenient shuttle bus that runs here from downtown, but it’s still one of our go-to spots because it’s close to our house, has legitimately good food at the beach shack (think Caprese salad, mango quinoa bowls, and Island Kitchen homemade ice cream as opposed to your typical snack bar fare), is accessible by bike path, and has great waves for body surfing. There are also lifeguards, restrooms, outdoor showers, and a stand where you can purchase beach chairs, sunscreen, or anything else you may have left behind. It may not be the most original Nantucket beach pick, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a regular haunt for us!
Tom Nevers Beach
Switching gears from Surfside brings us to its polar opposite, Tom Nevers. You’ll find few beachgoers, the occasional fisherman, and plenty of off-leash pups. We used to go to the Island Fair in Tom Nevers Field as kids and this whole area feels about as far away from downtown Nantucket as you can get without leaving the island entirely!
P.S. I’d love to hear your favorite Nantucket beaches in the comments — I’m always game to try out a new-to-me spot!