Nantucket has surf, often good, sometimes great, always fun. While the rest of the East Coast is often flat for long periods of time during the summer, the South Shore of Nantucket picks up swells from several directions by sticking out into the Atlantic like an elbow. Whether you are looking to give it a try or a seasoned pro, Nantucket is a great place to surf.
Learning To Surf
If you are a beginner check out Nantucket Island Surf School out at Cisco Beach during the summer months. They have been giving surf lessons and providing rentals since 1999. Not only can they teach you the basics but the can also help you with equipment and etiquette. The owner, Gary Kohner knows the Nantucket waters better than anyone and has introduced thousands to surfing on Nantucket.
Where to Surf
The South Shore offers miles of beachbreak with easy access. Madaquecham, Cisco, Nobadeer, and Madaket are the usual hotspots and can sometimes get crowded. Fortunately, it's easy to avoid the crowds and find your own peak often within a short walk of the popular spots. If you are learning, stick close to a lifeguard, Cisco is a great place to start.
Alternatives to surfing
Standup paddleboarding has become very popular during recent years as it can be done in waves and on flat water. It's a great form of exercise and a way to explore areas of Nantucket. Nantucket Surf School also offers standup paddle lessons.
The warm waters and waves that break close to shore make body surfing on Nantucket a blast. The effort to get the sand out of your hair will be worth the fun. Take it to the next level and grab a set of swim fins, you can swim twice as fast (hint, you really only need one fin so a pair will work for you and a friend). Careful not too take waves to close to shore, watch out for those rip currents and know your limits.
As fun as surfing is, there are hazards to entering the Atlantic Ocean. Always be aware and if there is any doubt, stick to areas with lifeguards. The Nantucket lifeguards are extremely helpful, well informed, and more than willing to answer questions.
- Rip Currents: Probably the least obvious but the biggest hazard. Even on flat days, they can be bad.
- Sharks: They are out there, always have been. Good practice to not surf at dusk and dawn, don't surf alone and if you see seals head to shore. That being said there has never been a shark attack on Nantucket.
- Large Surf: Know your limits, large surf may look enticing but sometimes it is best to spectate from the beach.
Have fun, go get salty!