A short bike- or shuttle-bus ride from town, Jetties Beach is popular with families because of its calm surf. It's also a good place to try out kayaks and sailboards. On shore it's a lively scene, with a playground and volleyball nets on the beach and adjacent public tennis courts. There is a boardwalk to the beach (special wheelchairs are available). You'll have a good view of passing ferries—and an even better one if you clamber out on the jetty itself. (Careful, it's slippery.) Amenities : food and drink; lifeguards; parking; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for : swimming; windsurfing.

Surfside Beach, accessible via the Surfside Bike Path (3 miles) or shuttle bus, is the island's most popular surf beach. This wide strand of sand comes fully equipped with conveniences. It draws teens and young adults as well as families and is great for kite flying and, after 5 pm, surf casting. Amenities : food and drink; lifeguards; parking; showers; toilets. Best for : surfing; swimming; walking.


The best way to tour Nantucket is by bicycle. Nearly 30 mi of paved bike paths wind through all types of terrain from one end of the island to the other: for details, consult the maps posted by Wheels, Heels, and Pedals (, which supports alternative modes of transportation. It is possible to bike around the entire island in a day—should you tire, you and your bike are welcome aboard the in-season Nantucket Regional Transit Authority (NRTA) buses. The main bike routes start within ½ mi of town (warning: that first stretch can be dauntingly congested). All of them are well marked and lead—eventually—to popular beaches. The paths are also perfect for runners and bladers—but not mopeds, which must remain on the road (to the frustration of impatient drivers). Note that Nantucket requires bike riders 12 and under to wear a helmet. Several shorter spurs connecting popular routes have been continuously added in the island's quest to make Nantucket even more bike-friendly.

The easy 2.2-mile Surfside Bike Path leads to Surfside, the island's premier ocean beach. A drinking fountain and rest stop are placed at about the halfway point. The Milestone Bike Path, a straight shot linking Nantucket Town and 'Sconset, is probably the most monotonous of the paths but can still be quite pleasant. It's about 6 miles; paired with the scenic Polpis Path, it becomes a 16-mile island loop. The Old South Road Bike Path spurs off from the Milestone Rotary and ends about 1.5 miles later close to the airport. At 1.2 miles, the Cliff Road Path, on the north shore, is one of the easiest bike paths, but it's still quite scenic, with gentle hills. It intersects with the Eel Point and Madaket paths.

The Eel Point/Dionis Beach Path starts at the junction of Eel Point Road and Madaket Road and links the Cliff Road and Madaket bike paths to Dionis Beach. It's less than a mile long. The 9-mile Polpis Road Path. skirts scenic bays and bogs as it wends its way toward 'Sconset; it intersects with Milestone Path east of the rotary.The Madaket Path starts at the intersection of Quaker and Upper Main Street and follows Madaket Road out to Madaket Beach on the island's west end, about 6 miles from the edge of Nantucket Town. About one-third of the way, you could turn off onto Cliff Road Path or the Eel Point/Dionis Beach Path.

Island Bike Company. Island Bike Company, though located mid-island, offers free delivery anywhere. 25 Old South Rd., Nantucket Town, MA, 02554. 508/228–4070.

Nantucket Bike Shop. Nantucket Bike Shop, open April through October, rents bicycles and mopeds; the latter are not only perilous on Nantucket's sandy, bumpy roadways, but anathema to locals, so don't be surprised if you get some dirty looks. Ask about free delivery and pickup. There's a second branch at 10 Broad St. and a third on Straight Wharf, all in Nantucket Town. 4 Broad St., Steamboat Wharf, Nantucket Town, MA, 02554. 508/228–1999; 800/770-3088 for both locations.

Young's Bicycle Shop. Young's Bicycle Shop, established in 1931, rents bicycles, including tandems and children's equipment; weekly rates are available. Knowledgeable third-generational Harvey Young and staff will send you off with everything you need—an excellent touring map, a helmet, a quaint little Portuguese handlebar basket—and offer roadside assistance in case of mishap (or overconfidence regarding one's skills and/or endurance). 6 Broad St., Steamboat Wharf, Nantucket Town, MA, 02554. 508/228–1151.


Nantucket Community Sailing. Renting sailboats, sailboards, and kayaks at Jetties Beach, NCS also offers youth and adult sailing classes and water-sport clinics for disabled athletes. Its Outrigger Canoe Club—a Polynesian tradition—heads out several evenings a week in season. Jetties Beach, Bathing Beach Rd., Nantucket Town, MA, 02554. 508/228–6600.


Siasconset Beach is known for its wilder surf and dunes; lately it has been blasted by winter erosion. Restaurants and restrooms are in the nearby village. Amenities : lifeguards. Best for : surfing; swimming; walking.


'Sconset Bike Path. This 6.5-mile bike path starts at the rotary east of Nantucket Town and parallels Milestone Road, ending in 'Sconset. It is mostly level, with some gentle hills. Slightly longer (and dippier) the 9-mile Polpis Road Path, veering off to the northeast, is far more scenic and leads to the turnoff to Wauwinet. Off Milestone Rd., Siasconset, MA, 02564.

Island Airlines (508/228–7575.