The ferry is approaching the dock and the smooth subtle rock of the ocean dissipates in the bay. Surrounded by small sail boats, live-in yachts, and well-worn fishing boats, this ferry is the behemoth in the bay. We get ready to disembark, and everyone is packing up their bags and coolers, putting away their drinks and snacks. The ferry party is ending but the Nantucket party is just beginning.
Off the boat, I walk down the cobblestone road towards the city center, eager to explore the preppy downtown shops before checking in to the bed and breakfast where we’ll be staying. The summertime regulars will all tell you, bed and breakfasts or a house rental is the way to stay. Get a feel for the island vibe and stay in a Nantucket-style home with white cedar shingled walls turned grey after years of sitting in the sun, with white trim, and with pink and blue hydrangea bushes bursting with color in the front yard. Historic and aesthetic, the homes here the stuff of legend.
As I approach downtown, I feel an urge to take off my shoes so I can feel the smooth warm surface of the cobblestones on the soles of my feet. But this island sees a lot of visitors so I think it may be wise to not. These streets would be treachery in high heels, but today I’m casual in my sandals. There’s a fish-and-chips pub, then a boutique jewelry store, a Lilly Pulitzer store, and a furniture store so luxe I wouldn’t even sit on the displays. Wealth is the standard here and there’s no hiding that fact. But a visitor can enjoy the island without breaking the bank.
After I tire of window shopping, I drop my bags at the B&B and grab my towel for the beach. I walk through a quiet neighborhood, past mansions that would be imposing if they weren’t so relaxed in their Nantucket style. I recall that Tommy Hilfiger, Bill Belichick, and Ben Stiller are among the rich and famous here, and I wonder if any of these homes are theirs. The walk to the beach, one of the many, is a delight. At one home I peer through a pergola in the bushes and can see straight through to the ocean!
At the beach, I lay in the sand and soak up the sweet bright rays of sun that threaten to turn me into a lobster if I’m too greedy in my quest for a sun-kissed tan. There are children nearby making a sandcastle, some girls gossiping about the tanned lifeguard boys, and a couple of island locals planning their barbeque for the block. Out in the water some folks paddle around on stand up paddleboards, while kids splash in the water and jump the waves, and an older couple strolls along collecting seashells. The weather is pleasant and the setting idyllic. I look out to the ocean to try to catch a glimpse of the whales whose fate once made this the world’s whaling capital. I don’t spot any today. Perhaps they were smart enough to move elsewhere .
Even if the whales have left the area, the people have only come here in greater volume. Nantucket is an island loaded with preppy, beachy, classy charm, and whether you come for a day visit from the Cape or a week or the whole summer, you can never grow old of this island.