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The 5 Best Beaches in Nantucket, including the Best Drive-on Beaches

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1 week ago

There are so many beaches in Nantucket, but some very clearly rise above the rest as the best beaches in Nantucket as decided by locals and frequent visitors alike including many from other U.S. states who make Nantucket their home over the summer. When it comes to living the Nantucket lifestyle, an essential experience is spending the day on the beach, whether by parking nearby and walking on or driving directly on to the beach (though heed our instructions below if you choose to drive on).

The truth that is painful to read and even more painful to live is that Nantucket’s weather is notoriously volatile and it might not be as sunny as you hope. All of that is to say, when you get a sunny day, change your plans immediately to beach day.

Driving on the beach in Nantucket

Nantucket is one of the few places in the United States where you can drive your car directly onto a beach. A unique culture has built up around driving to the beach which, depending on the beach and the day, usually entails drinking and partying on the beach near your car – and, of course, eating amazing sandwiches.

In order to drive on to the beach, you will need to lower the pressure of each of your tires to less than 15 psi before you drive on to the beach. At that point, you’ll need to put your car into neutral while it’s moving at low speed, then put the car into low 4WD (usually marked as 4L on the gearstick) and switch back into drive.

Do not attempt to drive on to a beach with tyres full of air. You will absolutely get bogged down in the sand and it’s a real hassle (or very expensive) to manoeuvre out if it.

Travel tip: You must have a valid beach permit sticker on your 4WD to be able to drive on the beaches.

The three key rules of driving on Nantucket’s beaches are: (1) don’t drive on the dunes or beach grass; (2) don’t park below the high water mark; and (3) don’t make new access points to the beach. Otherwise, once you’re on the beach, all there is to do is park, get up and enjoy the great vibes.

Travel tip: Not all beaches are open year-round in Nantucket, particularly drive-on beaches, so make sure to check the Nantucket Government website if you’re traveling in off-season.

Nantucket’s Beaches

Best for parties: Nobadeer Beach (drive-on)

Nobadeer Beach is one of the best beaches in Nantucket and firmly a local favorite. It’s also one of the few public beaches in Nantucket as most are privately owned. In the right weather conditions, Nobadeer Beach becomes a scene: cars (mostly Jeeps) line up against the shoreline, chairs and other beach paraphernalia line the waterfront, groups are playing beach games like cornholl, and people are walking up down the length of the beach in search of new friends and activities.

In many ways, a day at Nobadeer Beach encapsulates the true Nantucket beach experience. It feels like a community coming together to enjoy the sunshine and the good vibes. You can also watch the plane lands or takeoff from runway 24 at ACK airport. And if you’re trying to stay healthy, there are often workouts happening on the beachfront – don’t be afraid to ask them if you can join.

Warning: Drive-on entrance location

If you wish to drive on to the beach, do not drive to where Google Maps marks Nobadeer Beach which is just off Madequecham Valley Road. You must drive on to Nobadeer Beach from Nobadeer Avenue (search for Ack Surf School).

Best for chilling: 40th Pole Beach (drive-on)

Another one of Nantucket’s famous drive-on beaches, 40th Pole is a bit quieter (which is relative term in Nantucket in the summer (it will still be jam-packed on a great beach day in July and August)). 40th Pole is located on the north-western side of the island toward the locality of Madakat so it’s one of the best beaches in Nantucket to catch the sunset over the entire island.

Unlike Nobadeer Beach, you won’t find as many surfers and others engaging in water-based activities because 40th Pole is located on Nantucket Sound so there aren’t any big waves or currents. Locals know that the truth is that 40th Pole is really at its best in the off-season when it’s not crowded and you can properly chill in front of the calm water.

40th Pole is also a great place to bring kids. You’ll see plenty of others doing the same because the water is calm.

Best for quiet time: Ladies Beach

Ladies Beach is a great place to watch the sunset and enjoy a more typical beach experience without the cars driving onto the sand. The way to and from the beach is itself a pleasure as the path is quite picturesque. Unlike 40th Pole, Ladies Beach gets great waves and the water is clear and clean (though, like most Nantucket beaches, the water can be a little cold).

One thing to note about Ladies beach is that this is a less developed beach so there aren’t any port-a-potties or permanent bathrooms. If you want to use the bathroom, you’ll need to drive to Bartlett’s Farm which is, coincidentally, one of the best places for a sandwich in Nantucket.

Best for kitesurfing or paraboarding: Pocomo Beach

Pocomo Beach remains fairly unknown and untouched, even among locals and frequent visitors. The reason for that is not necessarily because it is further away from the town center than other beaches, but rather that the conditions can be quite windy depending on the day and the side of the beach that you’re on.

Even if you’re a kitesurfer or paraboarder yourself (though maybe a trip to Langebaan in South Africa or Akyaka in Türkiye will change that), Pocomo beach is a great place to watch the kitesurfers and paraboarders. It’s a lot of fun to watch them set up and get on the water.

There is also a great view of Coatue Beach directly in front of Pocomo Beach. Coatue Beach isn’t one of the best beaches in Nantucket unless you want to be very secluded, but it is great to look at in the distance. The water at Pocomo beach stays quite shallow for a long time so it’s a great place to bring children and less able swimmers.

How to get to Pocomo beach

The beach is located at Pocomo Head which is at the end of Pocomo Road. When you arrive and park at the head, turn left for great kitesurfing conditions, and turn right for more usual beach conditions.

Best for marine life: Great Point Beach (drive-on)

Great Point is famous for many reasons, but particularly because it is home to the iconic Great Point Lighthouse. The beach itself is one of the best beaches in Nantucket because of its crystal clear water and the fact that it doesn’t get nearly as busy, even during the height of the summer season. It’s also largely undeveloped and protrudes from the tip of Nantucket which means it’s the gateway to Coatue.

There is also a beautiful array of marine life including nesting shorebirds for those who like to see animals in their natural habitat. Be aware that there aren’t any lifeguards at Great Point, so if you’re with less confident swimmers or children, stick to the shallow water at the head of the harbor in Coskata.

How to gain entry to Great Point beach

Access by vehicle to Great Point requires a separate permit issued at Wauwinet Gate House. If you plan to go to Great Point, it’s very unlikely that your rental car will be permitted to drive on to Great Point unless you organize the permit yourself. Also, the sand at Great Point Beach is softer than other beaches, so it might take some skill to drive out to the tip of the beach.

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