Nantucket, MA has long been a summer colony for New Englanders, especially those in the Boston and New York areas. The small island, located about 30 miles south of Cape Cod, may not be big in size, but it’s rich in its coastal beauty and plentiful beaches.
It’s all about going to the beach in Nantucket. Sure you go for bike rides and peruse the cobblestone streets downtown and check out the harbor, but the beach is where you’ll always end up. With miles of white sand and dunes to protect, how could you not – they’re some of the most sublime beaches on the East Coast.
People take their beach life seriously here, and there are a variety of beaches for all types and ages. We’ve taken our girls to Nantucket a few times, when they were toddlers and babies, and now older at ages 6 and 8. Some of the beaches we used to go to were perfect back then, but now that they’re boogie boarding and want some waves, we’ve migrated to new territory. The North Shore, for example, being on the Nantucket Sound, is much calmer, while the South Shore, on the Atlantic, is obviously rougher, with bigger waves. Whatever your speed, there’s plenty of options. Here are our picks for best family beaches:
Jetties is extremely popular with families for so many reasons. First of all, it’s close to downtown and easy to get to. It has a playground, restrooms (and showers and changing rooms), a boardwalk and a restaurant, called the Jetties, right on site with live music. A great spot to refuel and grab a drink, all the while with the kids twirling around on the beach. There are sailboat and kayak lessons and rentals. And if you play tennis, there are public courts there as well. A parent’s go-to! We recently had dinner there while the kids played at the playground…so easy. Located on the North Shore, the waters are calm, and there is a lifeguard on duty. 4 Bathing Beach Road.
Located in the harbor right in town, Children’s Beach has long been a favorite for families with babies and toddlers. Because it’s in the harbor, not only is it convenient, but also practically wave-free with shallow waters, making it a peaceful and easy spot to watch the kids. There is a lifeguard, playground, green grass to run around in, as well as a restaurant called the Children’s Cafe. In addition to food, they sell toys and games. There is also the Children’s Bandstand which has activities going on all summer long. Kids love this beach for all that it offers, and it’s fun for the parents too since so many with young ones go. Harbor View Way, across from Steamship Warf.
Located on the eastern part of the island in Quidnet, my friend introduced us to this super fun beach a few years ago. As the name suggests, it’s an ideal spot for families, with tranquil waters. We saw lots of kayakers out and about, and kids with their rods. Just across the way over a narrow strip of land is the Atlantic. It’s a serene little spot, but note there are no restrooms or snack bars, so come prepared! Off Polpis Road.
Dionis is another popular beach for families due to its location on the Nantucket Sound, and sheltered spot within the dunes. Located 3 miles outside of town, it’s more remote than some other family beaches, if that’s more your style. Yet it still has lifeguards, restrooms and showers. For us, that’s the perfect combination in a beach. We like things a bit off the beaten path. It’s a beautiful beach with beautiful views. No food, though, so be sure to pack a picnic. Eel Point Road.
For some fun on the Atlantic, head to Surfside, where families love the action it provides. Known for its wide beach, there’s plenty of room for frisbee throwing and beach games. It’s also a great beach for boogie boarding, my girls’ latest obsession. Surfside has lifeguards, a snack bar and restrooms, making it convenient for families. My girls love the waves on the Atlantic side, but beware the surf can get rough. I don’t let them go in the water without an adult by their side. This last trip we also went to Lady’s Beach (off of Proprietors Way) on the South Shore, where the girls boogie boarded to their hearts’ content. Surfside is located at the end of Surfside Road.