Nantucket is a delightful sandy island 30 miles south of Cape Cod on the east coast of America. Nantucket is the perfect island destination for a refined vacation with a seafaring history.
Nantucket is only 14 miles long by 3 miles wide and filled with the most delightfully quaint little shops, restaurants and hotels. It's the playground for wealthy Americans from Massachusetts and New York, but it doesn't cost the earth to stay and play here among the beautiful historic timber buildings and cobblestone streets.
Arriving at Nantucket by ferry past the Brant Point Lighthouse gives a memorable first impression of the island written about in the great American novel Moby Dick.
Nantucket arrival by ferry past Brant Point lighthouse
Nantucket was a world centre of whaling from 1750 to 1850, then virtually abandoned in the late 1800s. The isolation preserved many of the pre Civil War timber shingle buildings and by 1960 enterprising developers restored much of the harbour as an upmarket destination for wealthy east coast Americans.
Cars are discouraged on Nantucket, adding to the island atmosphere as holidaymakers happily walk around the cobbled streets admiring the architecture and enjoying the beauty of this magnificent island.
When you arrive by ferry in Nantucket (usually from Hyannis port below Boston), you'll encounter the delightful Straight Wharf leading straight onto cobbled streets full of beachy gift shops and cafes housed in historic whaling shanties.
If you want beautiful accommodation, stay at the famous White Elephant Hotel & Residences. Our World's Best Holidays tip is to stay in the 2 or 3 bedroom residences on the corner down from the hotel accommodation, with their white picket fences and beautiful interiors.
Nantucket has a permanent population of 10,000 which swells to 50,000 in summer. A highlight is the Fourth of July holiday with its family events along the pretty cobblestoned Main Street, climaxing with a spectacular fireworks display on the popular Jetties Beach after sunset.
The beaches of Nantucket are sandy and pretty, and range from the popular Children's beach near Nantucket harbour to Surfside beach 3 miles south or Sconset beach 8 miles east.
Children's beach in Nantucket village
WHAT TO DO ON NANTUCKET ISLAND
In summer, hit the beaches. The beauty of Nantucket's little harbour town is that all the major attractions are nearby within walking distance. The Children's beach is a beautiful white sandy strip of Nantucket coast that allows panoramic views of many of Nantucket's delights while you lie on the sand soaking up the sun.
There's the Brant Point lighthouse just off to your left and the harbour wharf to your right, the gateway to the enchanting shops and cafes on the cobbled Main Street. Some of the shops include It's a Shore Thing and Bodhi at the end of Straight Wharf.
In summer, Nantucket provides shuttle buses around the island to encourage visitors to leave cars behind. There are many miles of bike paths and also many sheltered bays for visitors to bring in their own boats. You'll find beautiful sunsets on the west coast of Nantucket at the tiny settlement at Madaket beach, 5 miles from the town center. On the east coast at Sconset beach you'll find the charming small village of Siasconet Nantucket.
You'll have fun looking at some of the gracious and historic homes on Nantucket, viewed easily by ferry as you arrive or by road as you make your way around this pretty little island.
For guaranteed whale sightings, go whale watching with Shearwater Excursions
(ph 508 228 7037). They also offer sunset cruises from Straight Wharf.
Or take a day cruise around the harbour on the sloop Endeavor
with Captain James
(ph 508 228 5585).
At night try the original Nantucket Ghost Walk, the most popular walking tour on Nantucket. You can take the Town Route including the island's most haunted house and "the little girl in the white dress", or the Cemetery Route including the most haunted hotels and "the little girl with no feet".
Both are light-hearted fun lasting 90 minutes and only $10
for adults and $5 for children
(ph. 508 332 0953).
For a sense of Nantucket's history, go to the Nantucket Shipwreck & Life Saving Museum on Polpis Rd to see the drama of man's efforts against the relentless sea. This includes genuine artefacts from the Italian liner Andrea Doria which went down off Nantucket in 1956 with 46 lives lost.
Staying on Nantucket is a wonderful experience. There are a number of premier hotel accommodation properties on Nantucket island owned by Nantucket Island Resorts and there are also some cute little B and Bs in historic houses.
The highlight of any trip to Nantucket is certainly staying at the island's shining beacon of gracious hospitality, the White Elephant Hotel & Residences near Easton Street Nantucket.
White Elephant Residences in Nantucket
You'll be picked up from Nantucket harbour in White Elephant's sleek black van then quickly taken down the cobbled street to the Hospitality Suite for check in. This hotel blends classic Nantucket style with European chic and is a memorable experience, particularly if you stay down at the corner in the White Elephant Residences. These are really the epicentre of all that is good and enjoyable in Nantucket.
For a start, the Residences' traditional cedar block shingle architecture is striking, set among manicured lawns and white picket fences.
As you enter from the porch, the vogue interiors are stunning. The perfect lounge includes a fireplace, fine Massachusetts furnishings and expensive original paintings of Nantucket life by renowned local artist John Terelak.
Fine Nantucket accommodation at the White Elephant Residences
These expensive paintings feature extensively throughout White Elephant's rooms and hospitality suite, thanks to the philanthropy of White Elephant owner Stephen Karp, a Boston billionaire.
The White Elephant Residences' lounges feature big flat screen TVs, as do the superb bedrooms with their super comfortable Queen beds featuring modern four posters. The kitchen is all 21st century class with Bosch appliances including a temperature-controlled wine fridge. Did we say class? How about a trendy glass wine decanter as de rigeur.
The bathrooms are also stunning; marble with a modern version of a claw bath, complete with Dorothy Prentice aromatherapy toiletries imbued with a heavenly scent. The Residences are all overseen by the delightful Tania Jones, a shining light at Nantucket Island Resorts.
Photo of White Elephant Residences bedroom
White Elephant Hotel & Residences are usually ranked #1 in Nantucket in the influential Tripadvisor traveler rankings. Web address: www.whiteelephanthotel.com
Another leading hotel on Nantucket is The Wauwinet Hotel, White Elephant's Relais & Chateaux sister accommodation set at the top of the harbour, overlooking the Atlantic. You can take a leisurely cruise on The Wauwinet Lady on the sheltered harbour between Nantucket's two leading hotels.
At The Wauwinet Hotel, you can also cook with the Chef, go lobstering with Captain Rob or just enjoy the serenity of the ocean on one side and the harbour on the other.
Other popular Nantucket Island Resorts include Jared Coffin House, The Cottages & Lofts and Nantucket Boat Basin. Coffin is a famous seafaring surname on Nantucket.
Nantucket is renowned for its fresh seafood and some of the dining on this island is among the finest in the world.
For beautiful food with a beautiful view, go to Brant Point Grill restaurant at the White Elephant Hotel on Easton Street for al fresco dining looking across Nantucket's ocean panorama. It's only a 5 minute walk from the harbour, and you'll be greeted by truly gracious staff perfectly groomed and genuinely concerned that you're having a nice vacation.
Brant Point Grill restaurant with panoramic views of Nantucket harbour
Try Brant Point Grill's special local lobster, the tender giant scallops or the calamari that will literally melt in your mouth.
Steaks at Brant Point Grill restaurant are exceptional, complemented by an extensive wine list offered by intuitive restaurant sommeliers.
Brant Point Grill's superb scallops and calamari
The Chefs are two real characters named Frederick and Colin, and we must mention Christina as a very attentive waitperson.
For a superb location on Nantucket, try Topper's Restaurant overlooking Nantucket Bay. The Zagat Survey recently named this restaurant as Nantucket's finest, offering an impressive prix fixe menu or casual fare served from the new deck.
Other restaurants to try on Nantucket include Company of the Cauldron, Oran Mor and Queequegs, named after the character in the novel Moby Dick.
TRANSPORT TO NANTUCKET
World's Best Holidays highly recommends the super-sleek high speed ferry with Hy-Line Cruises from Hyannis as a quick and comfortable way to get to Nantucket. Hy-Line is a family-owned ferry company with more than 40 years experience and operates from Hyannis to Nantucket five times a day year round (six times daily in summer).
The 1 hour ferry ride from the mainland to nearby Nantucket is $75 return for adults and $51 return for children, but all children up to 12 ride free on the traditional ferries to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. The traditional Hy-Line ferries take 1 hour and 50 minutes and are also a memorable way to arrive in Nantucket.
It's a wonderful experience seeing Nantucket's harbour looming into view as you sail past the gracious New England shingle holiday homes set upon the dazzling white beaches of Nantucket.
You can also fly into Nantucket in less than an hour from Boston and New York City. Cape Air offers turbo prop smaller planes that fly to and from Boston and Cape Cod airports including the interesting Provincetown at the tip of the cape.
If you want a bigger jet, try Jet Blue as a very good airline that flies efficiently between Nantucket's cute little airport and New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.
World's Best Holidays has traveled to many of the world's best destinations, and Nantucket is right up there at the top.
This is a beautiful little island incorporating gracious New England living.
The historic shingle buildings are fascinating and the many quaint shops and cafes are fantastic.
If you want a memorable vacation, this island is the place.
Nantucket now ranks Number 1 as our World's Best Holiday,
and White Elephant Hotel helps make a memorable vacation unforgettable.