There are no bridges connecting Nantucket island to the rest of the country so if you’re looking to visit, you’ll have to take a ferry boat or plane. With ferry services departing for Nantucket throughout southern New England and commercial airlines making the trip to the island from major east coast airports, there’s bound to be an option that will work for wherever you are beginning your journey.
Where is Nantucket located?
Nantucket is an island 30 miles south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Those 30 miles of ocean water make getting to and from Nantucket a bit of a logistical challenge; they are also what makes this island so special. Figuring out how to get to “the far-away island” can be confusing for the uninitiated, but with so many different ways of getting to Nantucket now, it’s actually a lot easier than you’d think.
How to get to Nantucket from Boston and Cape Cod
For many years, Boston and Cape Cod were the gateways to Nantucket. From Boston, you can fly directly to Nantucket or take a bus to Cape Cod. Once on the Cape, visitors have the option to either fly from Hyannis to the island or take a ferry. Wherever you’re hailing from, it all boils down to flying or ferrying, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Taking a Ferry to Nantucket
The ferry services that operate to Nantucket are:
Hyannis to Nantucket ferry:
- Hy-Line Cruises
The Hy-Line operates passenger-only ferry services between Hyannis and Nantucket year-round on high-speed catamarans that take about an hour per trip.
- The Steamship Authority
The Steamship Authority has both vehicle ferries and high-speed passenger-only ferries. The car ferry, also known as “the slow boat” by locals, takes about two hours and 15 minutes per trip. From May to October, there are six round trips made by two car ferries each day; during the off-season, there is one boat and three round trips per day. The Steamship Authority also has a seasonal high-speed catamaran passenger ferry that takes about an hour each way.
Martha's Vineyard to Nantucket ferry:
- Hy-Line Cruises
The Hy-Line also runs a passenger-only ferry services between the Vineyard and Nantucket during the summer season. The Inter-Island ferry trip is an hour and ten minutes each way.
Harwich Port to Nantucket ferry:
- Freedom Cruise Line
If you want to avoid Hyannis, try leaving from Harwich Port instead aboard the Freedom Cruise Line. Freedom operates a seasonal ferry, which takes about 80 minutes to reach Nantucket. They offer free parking to day-trippers and offer overnight parking in their private lot.
New Bedford to Nantucket ferry:
Seastreak offers seasonal ferry service to both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard from New Bedford, Massachusetts. The trip takes about two hours to reach Nantucket with a stop at Martha’s Vineyard.
Why you should consider "taking the boat"
It's tradition: Taking a ferry to Nantucket should almost be obligatory for at least one trip to the island. Afterall, this used to be the only way to get to Nantucket. Smelling the salt air as you wait to board the boat with the sounds of sea vessels and shore birds punctuating the breeze will help create a memory to savor for years to come. It’s true the ferry takes longer than flying, and it’s also true that you could end up with a grey, windy day instead of the sunny stunner you were imagining, but that comes with the territory.
It's cheap (but takes time): Time and cost are important factors to consider besides the maritime memory you would make by taking the boat. Ferry tickets cost considerably less than plane tickets to the island, and the boat trip, wherever you’re departing from, will take longer than flying. You will need to reach one of the ports where ferries leave for Nantucket, and this can add time and logistical issues to your travel plans.
It's the only way to bring your car: If you’re looking to use your own vehicle while on the island, you’ll have to opt for the vehicle ferry, which leaves from Hyannis. The Steamship Authority operates the only car ferry service, and car reservations on the boat can be difficult to get and are not inexpensive. You’ll want to book your car reservations for the summer season as soon as the Steamship Authority opens them up to the public in late January. Renting a vehicle on the island can also be costly, and comparing the options of flying and renting a car versus taking a car on the boat would be an important part of planning a trip to Nantucket.
Flights to Nantucket
- Cape Air
Cape Air operates flights year-round between Nantucket (ACK) and Boston (BOS), New York City (JFK), Hyannis (HYA), New Bedford (EWB) and Martha’s Vineyard (MVY). Cape Air also has seasonal service between ACK and Westchester County, NY (HPN).
JetBlue offers seasonal flights to ACK from Boston (BOS), New York City (JFK, LGA, & HPN) Newark, NJ (EWR), and Washington-National (DCA).
Delta provides seasonal service to ACK from New York City (JFK & LGA).
- United Airlines
United Airlines has seasonal flights to ACK from Newark, NJ (EWR) and Washington-Dulles (IAD).
- American Airlines
American Airlines operates seasonal flights to ACK from Washington-National (DCA), Charlotte, NC (CLT), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), and Philadelphia, PA (PHL).
There are a number of private and chartered flight companies that fly to Nantucket.
Why you should consider flying to the island
It's fast: Flying is by far the fastest way to reach Nantucket. It's also a great way to get here if you're traveling from across the country, or if you're packing light and don't need to bring a car or much luggage/gear.
It's convenient: Don’t be fooled by the island’s only airport: Nantucket Memorial Airport isn’t big, but it’s the second busiest airport in Massachusetts and has seen Air Force One touchdown multiple times over the years. You’ll also find its well-known three-letter location code ACK on everything from stickers to beach towels. With many major airlines operating seasonal flights to the island, it’s never been easier to get here.
How much does the ferry to Nantucket cost?
Adult passenger tickets start at $20.50 on the Steamship Authority slow ferry and cost $42.50 on the high-speed ferry. Hy-Line Cruises high-speed ferry tickets cost $48.00 one way for an adult.
Vehicle pricing on the car ferry fluctuates throughout the year and can also depend on the day of the week.
How far is Nantucket from Boston?
Nantucket is about a 45 minute plane ride from Boston, a little over an hour by car, and two hours by bus.
How far is Nantucket from Cape Cod?
Nantucket is about 30 miles from Cape Cod.
How far is Nantucket from Martha’s Vineyard?
Nantucket is about 20 miles from Nantucket.
How long is the ferry to Nantucket?
Depending on which ferry you are taking, the voyage to Nantucket can take anywhere from one hour to two hours and fifteen minutes.
Can you drive to Nantucket?
In short, no, you can’t drive to Nantucket as there are no bridges to the island. You can drive your car to Hyannis, Massachusetts, and then drive on the car ferry, which will take you to Nantucket. It’s almost like you’ve driven here.
How do you get to Nantucket with a car?
Drive to Hyannis, Massachusetts, and then take your car on the Steamship Authority car ferry to the island. Be sure to make reservations in advance for your car!