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At 14 miles long and three-and-a-half miles wide, Nantucket is an incredibly accessible island destination, offering visitors many great options like museums, downtown shops, whale watching, charter fishing trips and bicycle tours.
For travelers who move in hiking boots or see the world over a bicycle handlebar, September and October are the perfect months to tour the island by bike or foot, since the roads are less congested with traffic and tourists. The Steamship Authority’s vehicle ferry offers the cheapest people and bike fares, and charges $15/day parking for cars in its off-site lots. Didn’t bring a bicycle? There are rentals minutes from Steamboat Wharf on Nantucket down Broad Street at Young’s Bike Shop or Nantucket Bike Shop. Also, The WAVE (Nantucket Regional Transit Authority) seasonal bus service carries bikes for those tired of walking and cycling. Service ends October 12.
Beach at Smooth Hummocks
Accommodations can be pricey on Nantucket, even during the off-season, so consider booking at the Star of the Sea Youth Hostel inside a former lifesaving station at Surfside Beach. Cook meals in the hostel’s large kitchen, meet other travelers from around the world and join in impromptu communal meals, all a few minutes walk from Nantucket’s spectacular South Shore. Or, try the Nantucket Lodging Association’s website for more private accommodations.
If you’re heading out to Fat Ladies Beach, check out Something Natural on Cliff Road for delicious picnic lunch foods. Riding home from the beach, stop to pick up some sweet island corn from Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm. This route allows for an extended detour to Cisco Brewers for a few Whale’s Tale Ales. It’s an excellent place for people-watching in the courtyard with a local band playing in the background.
For the next day’s adventure, I recommend joining Nantucket Walkabout on a guided natural history hike out into Nantucket’s protected lands. You’ll discover some of the island’s wilderness, its birds, mammals and plants, and learn how the last glacier formed Nantucket.
I launched Nantucket Walkabout this summer to lead natural history hikes all over the island. I offer daily one- to three-mile hikes year-round. For year round tourist information about Nantucket, please visit http://www.nantucketchamber.org. For general information on visiting Massachusetts, go to http://www.massvacation.com/
Peter B. Brace has spent 23 years living and hiking on Nantucket and writing about her environment for two newspapers. He is the author of two books, Walking Nantucket: A Walker’s Guide to Exploring Nantucket on Foot” and “Nantucket: A Natural History.”
*All photos courtesy of Peter B. Brace