You don’t have to hop on a plane at Albany to head to the Islands. Nantucket Island, is a short drive, and ferry trip away from Columbia County. It’s about a 3.5 hour drive to Hyannis, MA, where you can catch a ferry. There’s the traditional ferry, which is a large boat with multiple decks, a cafeteria, and plenty of comfy seating. That boat takes a little over two hours, and is my preferred way to go. If you are in a rush, and want something a little faster, check out the fast ferry, which leaves from the same port. This is a smaller boat, and generally more crowded, but cuts the travel time down to one hour.
Both ferries take the same route, which brings you past the Nantucket lighthouse, and into the harbor.
Once on shore, you will be in the island’s historic town, which is like traveling back in time, but with modern shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bars. There are also walking tours of the historic town, and a night time ghost tour. The small town also has a movie theater, a museum, and a beautiful library in the historic Atheneum building, which are always nice for a rainy day.
You can spend plenty of time, and money, shopping in town, but the real drawl of the island are the beaches that surround it. Pick up a free map on the ferry, which shows the locations of beaches, and bike trails to reach them. Each beach is a little different. The closer to town the beach is, the more crowded it might get. If you head out to Madaket, end your day with a sunset viewing drink at Millies. In Siasconset, look for The Summer House Bistro below the cliff.
Here are a few helpful tips for your visit.
1. You don’t need a car on Nantucket, in fact, bike’s are a much better way to get around, and see the island. You’ll find bike rentals on the island, on the road leading from the ferry, into town. There is plenty of parking in Hyannis, and the ferry provides free shuttle service to/from the outlying lots.
2. The traditional ferry is $37.00 for an adult round trip ticket. No reservations required, unless you want to bring your car to the island.
The fast ferry is $69.00 for one adult round trip. Reservations are recommended.
For more information or to book a fast ferry reservation, visit The Steamship Authority site, by clicking here.
3. Plan to spend at least a weekend, which is still not enough time. There are B&Bs, and hotels on the island, plus a large offering of vacation rental homes. Rentals tend to rent on a weekly basis (Saturday to Saturday).
4. Nantucket is expensive, so save up before you set sail.
Follow ColumbiaCountyCurrent.com on twitter @CoCoCurrent.
*All photographs taken by Jeff McKinney