Does Nantucket have good beaches?
With 110 miles of coastline, Nantucket prides itself on having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. You don’t have to take our word for it either: National Geographic places Nantucket’s beaches in the top ten. Plus, all beaches on the island are free for the public enjoy! Keep scrolling to see the best beaches in Nantucket.
Nantucket Beach Map
Not every beach is the same here, and having some local knowledge can go a long way to finding the perfect spot to set up for a day of fun in the sun. If you’ve never been to the island or have only dipped your toes in the harbor a couple of times, this guide to Nantucket’s beaches should put you on sure footing as you decide where to beach.
South Shore Beaches
The south shore features the island’s surf breaks, and surfers, boogie boarders, and body surfers flock to the various south shore hot spots.
Nantucket’s west end Madaket Beach is another great spot to spend the day at the beach or to take in a stunning sunset. With a small parking lot at the end of Madaket Road, Madaket Beach has lifeguards on duty during the summer and is just down the street from Millie’s Restaurant and Millie’s Market. In the evening, pack some hors d’oeuvres or grab something to go from Millie’s, and enjoy a romantic sunset on the beach.
Thanks in part to Cisco Brewery just down the road, Cisco Beach is probably the most well known of Nantucket’s beaches. It’s not really the brewery that has made Cisco Beach’s popularity so widespread: it is one of THE places to surf on the island. Countless island residents and visitors have caught waves, learned to surf or both at Cisco. Gary Kohner operates his Nantucket Island Surf School from Cisco Beach, and when conditions make for bigger swell, veteran surfers don their wetsuits and hit the water. Cisco has lifeguards during the summer, and food trucks make stops here as well in season.
Next up on our tour of south shore beaches is Miacomet Beach. With parking bordering either side of Miacomet Pond, Miacomet Beach is a great place for families. Miacomet has seasonal lifeguards and is less crowded than Surfside or Nobadeer. Be mindful of Miacomet Pond as Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) often affect this pond and many others on the island. HABs can be harmful to humans, pets, and the ecosystems where they are found so be sure to steer clear if HABs have been identified.
By far one of the most popular and well-known beaches on the island, Surfside is a great family beach destination. West of Nobadeer and Fisherman’s beaches and at the end of Surfside Road, Surfside beach has lifeguards and restrooms as well as a snack bar and food trucks. It has a large paved parking lot as well as lots of bike racks and can also be reached via the town’s public bus service known as the Wave.
Fisherman’s Beach, another incredibly popular spot, is down the road from Nobadeer on Nonantum Avenue. With a small parking lot and some street parking for overflow, Fisherman’s is a wide beach that can also have some good surf. Fisherman’s is a staff favorite of the Young’s crew, and we love the chance to spend the day here or meet up after work for a quick dip.
Just west of Madequecham, Nobadeer is one of the island’s most popular beaches. Beach driving is allowed here, and beachgoers with four-wheel drive and the appropriate beach permit fill up the available on-beach space quickly during the summer time. Nobadeer is popular with the younger crowd and has gained a party reputation, particularly around the Fourth of July, though it has become tamer and more family friendly over the years. Nobadeer also attracts surfers given the right conditions and has lifeguards on duty during the summer season.
Madequecham Valley borders the east side of Nantucket’s airport, and heading out Bunker Road to Madequecham Valley Road will bring you to the stunning Madequecham Beach. With parking lots on either side of the mostly dry Madequecham Pond, this is a very popular beach in the high season that takes some time getting to on narrow dirt roads. There are no facilities or amenities so pack a picnic and your favorite beverages, because you’ll want to post up here once you’ve made the journey.
Tom Nevers Beach
At the end of Tom Nevers Road, you will find what was once a Navy base and which has now become a recreation area. Tom Nevers sports multiple softball fields, a playground, restroom facilities, and a large parking lot. Besides the recreational facilities, this is a great area to spend the day at the beach. Anglers should check this area out for some surf casting.
North Shore Beaches
On the north shore and around the harbor, calm and shallow waters make for great family beach days.
40th Pole Beach
Located west of Dionis Beach and past where the paving ends on Eel Point Road, 40th Pole is a local favorite that allows beach driving with the required beach permit. Like the rest of the North Shore, 40th Pole has a wide beach with the calm and shallower waters of Nantucket Sound. Be sure to get here early if you want to take your four-wheel drive on the beach: this popular family destination fills up fast in the high season.
Dionis Beach is another iconic North Shore family beach. Located just a few miles out of town, Dionis is close enough to bike, and the Eel Point bike path will lead you directly to it. You don’t have to bike: Dionis Beach has a parking lot and restrooms, too.
Whether you’re staying in town or not, Steps Beach is worth visiting. Taking its name from the stairs leading down to the beach through the dunes, Steps Beach is accessed at Lincoln Circle, which overlooks the harbor and Jetties Beach. The beach itself is loved by just about everyone but is great for families with young children due to its shallow waters. There is very little parking for cars here so it’s best to walk over if you’re staying in town, or just ride your bike.
Jetties Beach is Nantucket’s behemoth family beach. Jetties Beach boasts the Sandbar restaurant, changing facilities and restrooms, a playground and a large parking lot. Visitors can post up on the Nantucket Sound side of the Jetties rock barrier or the Harbor side. Nantucket Community Sailing operates the Jetties Sailing Center, where you can rent sailboats, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards or take lessons. The Town of Nantucket also has tennis courts at Jetties, which are open to the public on a first come first serve basis.
This small beach closest to town has a playground, café, stage and grass lawn. It is staffed with lifeguards during the summer and has a boat launch as well. If you happen to be on island at Thanksgiving, take part in the annual Nantucket Cold Turkey Plunge by jumping into the cold November water at Children’s Beach. This chilly but fun event benefits the Nantucket Atheneum’s Weezie Library for Children.
Eastern Shore Beaches
Beachgoers on the eastern shore experience more moderate to calm surf compared to the south shore, and these beaches exhibit a welcome serenity with less people and lulling wave action.
With calmer waves than the south shore, the eastern shore ‘Sconset Beach has a small parking area, and during the summer season, there are lifeguards and a portable toilet. Just across the street from the beach, visitors can enjoy the ‘Sconset Playground making this another good choice for families. The village of ‘Sconset, which is just a short walk from the beach, has public restrooms and shuttle bus service, and during the high season, the ‘Sconset Market and Claudette’s Sandwiches provide sandwiches, snacks, ice cream, and other essentials.
Quidnet Beach also has calmer wave action, and with wide stretches of beach and less people, it can be easy to tune out the rest of the world. Sesachacha Pond hugs the dunes on the landward side of Quidnet Beach, and Sankaty Lighthouse is perched to the south creating a stunning backdrop to lay out the beach towels and open a book.
Great Point Beach
Taking a four-wheel drive vehicle out to the Great Point area of the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge is a beach day to remember. Find your own spot along the miles of beach that lead up to Great Point, and park for the day. There are options for swimming and your view: choose the ocean and the great Atlantic or the Sound and town. Tread lightly, and respect the wildlife that abound in this island sanctuary.
Enjoy the warmer waters of Nantucket Harbor at the end of Pocomo Road. With a small dirt parking area, Pocomo Beach has shallow waters and great views of town and the Coatue peninsula. You might see even some kite surfers or wind surfers on windy days. Even if you don't want to spend much time there, it's a great spot to drive to on your way to or from the Wauwinet/Great Point area.
Nantucket Beach FAQs
Are dogs allowed on Nantucket beaches?
Dogs are allowed on most Nantucket beaches, but you must leash your pet and clean up after it. Dogs are NOT allowed in the Great Point and Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge from April 1 to September 15.
What is the best beach on Nantucket for families?
There are a couple of great beach options for families on Nantucket. For those with younger children or less experienced swimmers, Jetties Beach is a great destination with its calmer and shallower waters as well as its amenities: bathroom facilities, restaurant, and playground. For families with slightly older and more experienced swimmers, Surfside Beach would be a great option. Located on the south shore, Surfside Beach has larger waves and deeper water, and it also has a snack bar and restrooms. Both Jetties Beach and Surfside Beach have lifeguards during the summer.
What is the most secluded beach on Nantucket?
The Town of Nantucket lists about 52 numbered beach access points around the island making this question a difficult one to answer. Any number of these access points can lead to a beach that feels very secluded, but some stand out more than others. Great Point could be considered one of the most secluded beaches since you need four-wheel to get there, and some of the beaches of Coatue can only be accessed by foot or by boat. Sometimes just walking a ways down any of our beaches can lead to a very secluded spot. Rest assured, if you want some beach privacy, you’ll be able to find it one way or another.
Does Nantucket have a boardwalk?
No, Nantucket does not have a boardwalk like the ones some other coastal communities have.
Can you drink alcohol on Nantucket beaches?
The Town of Nantucket says, “Alcohol is not permitted on public property,” and the popular south shore beaches are patrolled by the police. That said, if you are behaving responsibly and clean up after yourself, enjoying some alcoholic beverages on the beach will be tolerated, but please respect your fellow beachgoers and the environment.
Can you swim in the water in Nantucket?
Yes! You can definitely swim in the water here. Our waters are not as cold as Maine but never reach the bathwater temperatures of Florida. Seals, sharks and other marine wildlife do inhabit our waters so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and avoid certain areas. Nantucket can also have strong rip currents and surf that can be dangerous for even the most experienced of swimmers. Some of the island’s ponds can contain Harmful Algal Blooms, and people and pets should avoid these bodies of water.
Can you drive on the beach on Nantucket?
Yes, certain beaches are open to driving. See our Beach Driving guide to learn everything you need to know about Nantucket Beach Driving.