A week­end in Nan­tucket, Mas­sachusetts

Vocable (All English) - - À La Une - HAN­NAH SELIGSON

Nan­tucket is a tiny 45 square miles is­land lo­cated 30 miles south from Cape Cod. Less well known than its fa­mous neigh­bour, Martha’s Vine­yard, this national his­tor­i­cal site has a popu-la­tion of 10,000 that swells to five times that num­ber in the sum­mer. Beau­ti­ful beaches, very good in­fra­struc­ture, de­li­cious local prod­ucts, and a past steeped in his­tory. Nan­tucket is a sur-pris­ing and charm­ing place to visit!

In “Moby-Dick,” Her­man Melville fa­mously called “lonely” Nan­tucket an “el­bow of sand” that was “all beach, with­out a back­ground.” The de­scrip­tion is more ap­peal­ing to­day. The 14-mile-long is­land, once a refuge for per­se­cuted Quak­ers, is now a sum­mer refuge for the global elite. But don’t worry, the one-per­centers haven’t com­pletely taken over. Thirty miles south­east of Hyan­nis on Cape Cod, Nan­tucket is a bas­tion of con­ser­va­tion, with al­most 45 per­cent of the land in trusts, and over 800 pre-Civil War-era build­ings still stand­ing in Nan­tucket town. There are vir­tu­ally no fenced-off beaches; most of the 82 miles of glo­ri­ous coast­line are open to the public.

2. Nan­tucket hasn’t turned into a fos­silized mon­u­ment of its whal­ing past. In­stead, it has evolved into a so­phis­ti­cated get­away, with din­ing and shop­ping op­tions that will im­press even the most jaded ur­ban­ites. Its serene moors and dunes be­lie a fa­tal tran­sience — beaches are quickly erod­ing, ac­cel­er­ated by cli­mate change, and the is­land it­self is pro­jected to dis­ap­pear be­neath the waves in sev­eral hun­dred years. So en­joy Nan­tucket’s nat­u­ral won­ders while you still can, strik­ing the right bal­ance of time­less is­land plea­sures and new crea­ture com­forts.

1. GO NA­TIVE, 2 P.M.

3. Get to the beach as quickly as pos­si­ble. En route, stop at the beloved local sand­wich in­sti­tu­tion Some­thing Nat­u­ral on the out­skirts of town, and pick up one of the piled­high sand­wiches such as an av­o­cado, Ched­dar and chut­ney ($7.25 for a mon­ster-size half). Then walk 10 min­utes east to Steps Beach, which sits on the calm har­bor side of the is­land. Soak in the panoramic view from the top of the steps be­fore de­scend­ing onto the soft white sand.

2. RE­TAIL RELIEF, 4:30 P.M.

4. Shop­ping on the is­land has evolved past “Nan­tucket reds” and pais­ley prints. Start at the men’s store Hen­ley & Sloane on Fed­eral Street, which sells English dress shirts in a va­ri­ety of ap­peal­ing pat­terns, along with its must-have trade­mark striped socks ($25 a pair). The Skinny Dip, on the Old South Wharf, sells a mix of men’s and women’s clothes from in­de­pen­dent con­tem­po­rary brands. The swimwear brand Le­tarte on South Wa­ter Street sells boho chic bathing suits and cover-ups for women and girls.

3. ACK ASIAN, 8 P.M.

5. One of the most in­ven­tive restau­rants to open in the last few years is The Nau­tilus,

which serves Asian fu­sion food with a nod to the is­land. Some of the stand­out dishes are small plates: Manny’s scal­lion pan­cakes ($9), two Hawai­ian tuna poke ($24), Day Boat Scal­lop sashimi ($16), and the crispy mar­i­nated cala­mari ($15). For two, with drinks, ex­pect to pay around $120.

4. SWEET TREAT, 9:30 P.M.

6. There’s a rea­son there is al­most al­ways a line at the Juice Bar, the home­made ice cream and smoothie joint in the cen­ter of town. It’s ad­dic­tive. There are no bad choices here, but make sure to get a hand-rolled waf­fle cup and fill it with any com­bi­na­tion of cho­co­late Oreo, but­ter pecan, cof­fee and cook­ies & cream (two scoops, $7.25). In­sider tip: The black­berry ice cream makes for an ex­cep­tional milk­shake ($8.75).


7. Grab an egg, turkey ba­con and cheese sand­wich on a home­made bis­cuit ($5) from the Pet­ti­coat Row Bak­ery. Then se­lect a land or sea ad­ven­ture to Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, a sprawl­ing, re­mote stretch of dunes and beach ac­ces­si­ble by de­flated-tire four-by­four or boat. The over­land op­tion, run by the Trus­tees of Reser­va­tions, an or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing land in Mas­sachusetts, is a three-hour over-sand tour. It leaves daily from town, and takes you through some of the 1,200 acres of pro­tected bar­rier beach habi­tat. Call ahead for reser­va­tions. Or head out by boat on a seal-watch­ing tour to Great Point, the north­east­ern tip of the is­land.

6. BIKE AND BEACH, 12:30 P.M.

8. Rent bikes at Young’s Bi­cy­cle Shop ($35 for 24 hours) and start mak­ing your way, via the Cliff Road bike path, to Madaket Beach, a wave-lover’s par­adise. (From town, this is a 6.2-mile hilly bike ride that can be stren­u­ous de­pend­ing on the wind.) Along the way stop at Tu­pancy Links, a golf course-turned-pre­serve that is pop­u­lar with dog own­ers, and walk the one-mile loop; don’t miss the path to the cliff’s edge for a view of the har­bor. An­other de­tour is the bike path spur to Dio­nis, a placid beach that’s great for chil­dren. Or con­tinue on the main path, which will take you past stretches of moors, wet­lands and pine groves, to­ward Madaket Beach. For the cy­cling-averse, there’s a public shut­tle bus (the WAVE; $2/ride) run­ning be­tween town and Madaket.

7. MEX­I­CAN MIL­LIE’S, 2:30 P.M.

9. Now that you’ve worked up an ap­petite bik­ing, swim­ming and walk­ing, re­ward >>>

your­self with lunch at Mil­lie’s, a ca­sual but top-notch Mex­i­can-inspired seafood place, a two-minute walk from Madaket Beach. An ideal se­lec­tion: Eel Point tacos (seared tuna with wasabi crème fraîche; $23) and a Gibbs Pond salad (lob­ster salad, corn, mixed greens, toma­toes and fin­ger­ling pota­toes; $26).


10. Ei­ther bike or take a taxi to Cisco Brew­ers (7.3 miles bik­ing on the main roads and bike paths from Mil­lie’s), which, along with mak­ing their own beer, wine and liquor, turns into a party ev­ery week­end. Two bands play on Satur­days and Sun­days. The brew­ery is a paean to sum­mer, where is­lan­ders and vis­i­tors bring their dogs and kids while sip­ping beer and wine in this pic­turesque set­ting. Bonus: There’s a free shut­tle from the vis­i­tors’ cen­ter in town to the brew­ery and back.


11. Ven­tuno serves fresh, so­phis­ti­cated Ital­ian fare. Try to re­serve a ta­ble on the out­door pa­tio, one of the most ap­peal­ing on Nan­tucket. Start with a pepe pi­cante, a cock­tail made with tequila and three kinds of hot pep­per. Move on to ap­pe­tiz­ers of chick­pea fries. Try the tagli­olini verdi with fresh gar­banzo beans, spring veg­eta­bles, pancetta and cured egg yolk and the spaghetti alle von­gole. Share an en­tree of the local catch of the day, and fin­ish with the bom­boloncini, bit­ter­sweet cho­co­late dough­nuts.

10. TIME TRAVEL, 10 A.M.

12. Grab cof­fee and a bite at the Nan­tucket Culi­nary Cen­ter and head to the Whal­ing Mu­seum, ren­o­vated in 2005. It’s a must-see des­ti­na­tion on the is­land’s role as the global cap­i­tal of whal­ing, circa 1800-1850.


13. Top­per’s, the res­tau­rant at the Wauwinet, a Re­lais & Châteaux prop­erty, is best reached by boat. If you book brunch at the ho­tel, the stun­ning hour­long boat ride through the har­bor — with views of the wa­ter­front manses — is free. The menu veers to­ward very pricey, but steer to­ward the clas­sics: house smoked or­ganic salmon, the lob­ster roll and lob­ster and crab cakes. Lounge in a plush green lawn chair be­fore head­ing back on the boat for one last look at this won­drous spit of land.


Take a walk on the East Side.

(R. Lancelot)

The Nan­tucket Light­ship Bas­ket Mu­seum.

(R. Lancelot)


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