What is Nantucket Known For?

Nantucket: most everyone has heard of this tiny island off the coast of Massachusetts, but if you’ve never been you might be wondering why so many people flock here year after year to enjoy a little island charm. What do you do once you get there? Why are so many people so in love with Nantucket, and why did it get so famous in the first place? We absolutely love Nantucket and would be happy to tell you!

Nantucket from aboveAbout Nantucket

Nantucket is a small island, 14 miles in length and 3 1/2 miles wide, located 30 miles off the southern coast of Cape Cod. While Nantucket has a strong community of just over 14,000 year-round residents, it is primarily a summer home and tourist destination ballooning up to 50,000 people living there in the summer. It has 2 main towns, Nantucket’s downtown district, and Siasconset where you will find rose covered cottages, and lots of mansions and history of old Nantucket wealth. In between there is a lot of natural beauty thanks to the land trust, as well as residential areas, Bartlett’s Farm, and Cisco Brewers. The beaches along all sides of the island are fantastic, but the southwest ocean facing beaches like Cisco and Madaket are known for their large waves and amazing surfing opportunities. The harbor side beaches are calm and serene, and great for relaxing and watching boats go in and out.

What is Nantucket known for?

When most people think of Nantucket, they think of the tourist’s paradise it has turned into since the late 1800’s. Because the economy on Nantucket is primarily tourism, they offer top-tier accommodations—from chic hotels and inns to charming rental homes; as well as fun and relaxing activities and attractions—from its picturesque beaches, historical lighthouses and museums, boutique shopping, to exciting water sports including surfing and fishing. There are miles and miles of bike paths for the adventurous cyclists and so many opportunities to relax and have fun. Not to mention the world class restaurants, eateries, ice cream shops, and cafes. You will not run out of things to do here, that’s for sure!

Old Seaship PaintingAn Old Whaling Town

Before it turned into a tourist’s paradise, Nantucket was initially a whaling town between 1750 and 1840. In fact, the island was one of the major whaling ports in North America. The demand for whale oil was at a high point and in 1775 the island had the capacity for a yield of more than 30,000 barrels of oil a year. The island’s whaling industry was even immortalized in Herman Melville’s beloved novel “Moby Dick.” Two of the novel’s main characters, Captain Ahab, and First Mate Starbuck, are both Nantucketers. However, in the late 1800s, the whaling industry saw a decline on Nantucket, as voyages lengthened and ships grew, the relatively shallow harbors of Nantucket were no longer viable. Although much of the money of the industry continued to run through Nantucket, the actual shipping was increasingly conducted from the deeper ports of New Bedford, Massachusetts. By the mid-1840s, more than half of the roughly 750 whaling ships in the world were based in New Bedford. Today there is a Whaling Museum in Nantucket’s downtown area run by the Nantucket Historical Society where you can learn all about this era, and its brutal and interesting history.

Fishing in the Nantucket Sound

Nantucket is also widely known for its amazing fishing and scalloping in both the Nantucket Sound and in its ocean front waters. Bay Scallops from Nantucket are highly sought after for their succulent, sweet, briny flavor, and exquisite quality. The scalloping season lasts Oct 1 – March 31st and both recreational and commercial scallopers alike flock to the waters to harvest these delicacies. Fishing on Nantucket is also world renowned because of the variety of fish you can catch in the peak season of June through mid-October. Nantucket Sound is a great place for beginners to drop a line and be on the lookout for bluefish, stripers, bonito, and false albacore, which can easily be caught both on land from the beach or dock, or via a charter boat. If you are looking for some adventure and challenge, rent a small boat and head out a bit farther for cod and bigger bluefish and stripers. If you really want to go all out, you can charter a fishing vessel to take you out into open ocean water where you can catch really large tuna, shark, mahi mahi and marlin! There really is a lot of great fishing opportunities that you don’t want to miss if you enjoy the sport.

Nantucket Holiday FestivalAnnual Events

Nantucket is also very well known regionally and beyond for its world-class events hosted on the island every year. There is always some magical event happening here, it seems, and Nantucketers and people who come in go all out to make sure that the events are large, spectacular, and island wide. It truly is an experience! From the Christmas Stroll in December to the Daffodil Weekend in April, Figawi on Memorial Day weekend, and The Wine Festival, Film Festival and the Book Festival happening in May and June there is something going on downtown all the time! If you can get to one or more of these events, we definitely recommend it, they’re so much fun.

So, there you have it, just a few of the things that Nantucket is known for and what makes it a fantastic destination almost year round. We love taking you there and can’t wait to hear what your favorite thing about Nantucket is. Let us know!

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