When it comes to beaches it is hard to top Nantucket's for their beauty and their accessibility. Unlike many New England summer destinations Nantucket's beaches do not have parking fees or the need for permits. It's simple, drive or bike, park, walk, find a spot and enjoy.
For those that want to skip the walking step and park right on the beach there are a few spots on Nantucket where beach driving is permitted. Not only is it an adventurous day of fun it's very convenient for surf fishing, family outings and other activities where a lot of gear is involved.
Below are some basic tips for making your day out on the beach fun. It's important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of rules, the Town of Nantucket provides an updated map and regulations here. It is strongly recommended to be familiar with them as it can be the difference between a fun adventure and a day stuck in the sand waiting to get pulled out.
- You do need a permit, yearly permits are issued by the Town of Nantucket. More Information.
- Only drive on designated beaches and access them through designated access points. The areas can change quite often. While the map may say it's open, if a posting at the area/access point says it's closed, it is closed.
- A four wheel drive vehicle is required. While many of today's modern SUVs blur the distinction between all wheel drive and four wheel drive, there is a difference. More likely than not you will be forced to go through sand too soft for all wheel drive to handle. A good amount of clearance under your car is helpful too. Think Jeeps, trucks, Land Rover Discoveries.
- Air down your tires. Reducing your air tire pressure before you hit the beach will give you a lot more traction in the soft sand. Make sure you are not blocking access points while letting air out. A tire pressure gauge is always handy and you can refill your air at the island gas stations.
- Do not drive or park on dunes, beach grass, Tidal flats, Marshes, or in designated bird nesting areas.
- Do not exceed 20 MPH at any time and 5 MPH within 100 yards of a pedestrian.
- Not only is going slow required, it also is better for traction.
- Pedestrians have the right-of-way.
While there are many rules and regulations for driving on Nantucket's beaches they are designed to protect Nantucket's fragile ecosystems, keep everyone safe and ensure you have a great time. Once the do's and don'ts are understood and out of the way it is about having fun on the beach.