With rolling hills, expansive salt marshes, hardwood forests, and beaches galore, Nantucket in southeastern Massachusetts is famous for its natural beauty and outdoor pursuits. A hugely popular tourist destination in summer, this tiny island off the coast of Cape Cod offers visitors a slew of enviable ways to get outside and into nature!
Of the many fun-filled and family-friendly options at your disposal, though, kayaking Nantucket is a great way to experience this beauty of this island. Not only does it provide a unique vantage point from which to see the sights, but there’s also something very special about a relaxing paddle and drifting serenely across the water away from the summer crowds.
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Kayaking Nantucket: Sea or Pond?
Nantucket’s full of picturesque ponds that are suitable for kayakers of all ages and experience levels too. In fact, there are so many options that it can be a challenge to know which of the waters of Nantucket to tackle first!
To help you decide, here is an overview to kayaking Nantucket that will help you have the most fun while staying safe.
Boasting mile after mile of pristine shoreline, it’s no surprise that sea kayaking is a popular pastime on Nantucket. However, unless you’re an experienced paddler who’s confident on the water, we suggest sticking to the many ponds dotted around the island instead!
While conditions off Nantucket’s beaches are often favorable, they can change quickly. Especially on the north shore, the strong northerly winds can whip up dangerous waves with little warning.
With young children in tow, the calm and sheltered waters of Nantucket’s ponds provide a safe (and no less beautiful!) environment for the whole family to go kayaking.
The Best Places to Go Kayaking in Nantucket
Trust us, whether you stick to the ponds or venture out to sea, there’s no shortage of beautiful places to go paddling on Nantucket!
Although we recommend young families stick to the ponds when kayaking Nantucket, Nantucket Harbor is a very popular place to hit the water! Even on day trips, Nantucket Harbor is easy to explore by kayak.
There are boats to steer clear of here near Old Town Nantucket, but plenty of space overall. It’s lovely and sheltered too, meaning the water’s ideal for beginners. Paddle past Brant Point Lighthouse, a historic lighthouse that sits in Nantucket Harbor. By the time you get to Jetties Beach, you will have reached the sea waters of Nantucket Sound.
Get ready to paddle through picture-perfect scenery, with estuaries and creeks to explore in the beautiful Nantucket salt marsh. If you have experience in a kayak, time on your hands, and an adventurous spirit, then you can even head over along the coastal shoreline to the pristine and secluded beaches of Coatue.
No matter how far you venture in Nantucket Harbor, though, you’re sure to have a fun and memorable experience.
Run by Trustees of Reservation, Coskata Pond is a tidal pond fringed by an oak forest and a salt marsh. There’s a barrier beach that separates Coskata Pond from the Atlantic Ocean. Keep an eye out for mosquitoes (and the even worse greenhead flies!) on the East side of Coskata Pond.
The easy way to get to Coskata Pond by paddle is from Polpis Harbor. Paddle past the salt marsh with its wildlife like egrets and other birds. This paddle can be a longish trip so remember to pack snacks/lunch and also a dry bag. You will invariably want to cool off in the water at one of the beautiful beaches.
The Polpis Public Boat Launch has parking.
Long by name and nature, Long Pond is a Massachusetts Great Pond and a haven for anyone who loves being out on the water.
Located on Nantucket’s west end, Long Pond extends for 132 acres. Long Pond is fringed by wetlands, and is home to all sorts of local wildlife. Take a kayak out here and you could see the incredible biodiversity of Nantucket. There is everything from snapping turtles on the sandy banks to great ospreys fishing for white perch.
Expect still waters and depths of 4 to 6 feet that make it perfect for newbie paddlers. Oh, and the Long Pond Trail winds for 1.25 miles through this wonderful landscape too, providing a great alternative if you want to stretch your legs!
This large coastal pond on the southwest of the island is around 2.3 miles long, an average of 6ft deep, and approximately 142-acres in size.
An oasis of tranquillity, it’s peaceful, quiet, bordered by countless acres of conservation land, and host to migrating birds that flock here throughout the year. The calm waters of Hummock Pond make for easy paddling, but be wary of the swans that can get close to your boat and (sometimes) become aggressive.
For all of these reasons and more, Hummock Pond’s another incredible place to go kayaking on Nantucket Island!
Last but by no means least, we have Sesachacha Pond. Another of Nantucket’s wilder and more peaceful places (far from the hordes of tourists that visit in summer!), you’ll find it tucked away on the northeast of the island.
This old kettle pond is separated from the sea by Quidnet beach, which, with its glorious golden sands deserves a visit in its own right.
The water at Sesachacha is still and there are no powerboats about which to be wary. With 2 deep basins of around 15 to 18ft (at the northern and southern ends), Sesachaacha is definitely deeper than other ponds on this list.
Parking’s limited too and there are no facilities, so be sure to get there early and bring a packed lunch!
Nantucket Kayak Rental
There are 2 main places to rent a kayak in Nantucket, both of which are located on the western side of Nantucket Harbor. Below you’ll find a brief description of Nantucket kayak rental, alongside their contact details.
Sea Nantucket Paddle Sports
Sea Nantucket Paddle Sports hire out their single or double kayaks for an hour, 2 hours, a half-day, a full day, for 3 days, or on a weekly basis. Prices range from hourly rates to weekly rates. For paddlers who want to explore other parts of the island, they’ll even deliver the kayaks to you for a fee!
Guided kayak tours are also an option along with Nantucket kayak rentals here. Guided tours are available at an extra hourly fee.
Parking’s available but it’s very limited, so be sure to take that into account when you head for kayak rental.
Address: 76 Washington St; 508-228-7499
Nantucket Community Sailing
Nantucket Community Sailing offers hour-long rentals of single or double kayaks throughout summer (from June to August). With limited availability for walk-in Nantucket kayak rentals, Nantucket Community Sailing recommends booking online ahead of time!
Address: Jetties Sailing Center, Bathing Beach Road; 508-228-5358
Enjoy the Wonders of Nantucket Kayaking
To summarise: Kayaking Nantucket is a joy! Definitely take the opportunity to explore Nantucket by water on a kayak.
With a rich history, friendly locals, and natural beauty, Nantucket all but guarantee visitors a good time.With scenery fit for a postcard and calm waters that are suitable for all ages and experience levels, Nantucket kayaking will be a highlight of your trip.
Map For Kayaking Nantucket
For your planning convenience, here’s a map of the places mentioned as good for kayaking Nantucket above.
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