A toes-in-the-sand, island-style honeymoon is simply the stuff of newlywed dreams. While this may summon images of coconuts and palm trees in a far-flung destination like Fiji, the perfect island honeymoon may actually be closer than you think. Located 30 miles off the pristine shores of Cape Cod and colored by its fascinating history, Nantucket boasts white-sand beaches, world-class dining, luxury accommodations in spades, and an abundance of New England charms (think cobblestone streets and hydrangea-covered cape-style beach homes). For those in search of some of the best seafood in the U.S. and a lively nightlife scene to match, the tiny island of Nantucket may be the perfect fit. And despite clocking in at only 14 miles in length, there's no shortage of romance to be found on this veritable seaside paradise.
Newlyweds can hole up in one of the island's stunning hotels or inns and spend days biking around the island, popping by farmer's markets and the local brewery, and soaking in vitamin D from the 82 miles of shoreline. Here, we speak to a local expert about how to plan the perfect honeymoon on Nantucket.
Why Honeymoon On Nantucket?
"Stepping onto Nantucket Island is, in some ways, stepping back in time," says Ava Rollins, of Ava Rollins + Associates, a luxury hospitality PR agency. "When you’re celebrating love, time often moves very quickly. Nantucket allows you—forces you—to slow down, in every regard, to island time—to savor more."
Meet the Expert
Ava Rollins is a Nantucket-based publicist and the owner of Ava Rollins + Associates, a luxury hospitality PR agency.
In addition to the slow pace of life on the island, the sheer natural beauty of the area, the distinct character of the two small towns (Nantucket and Siasconset), and the sense of community make the destination feel like an instant home away from home. "Because the island is rarely simple to visit, (or leave!) it makes time spent here more rarified and special," explains Rollins. "The aesthetic regulations, like our iconic shingled homes, bring a cohesiveness that soothes the eye and cleanses the palate. There is also a beautifully strong sense of community you can’t help but feel when you visit.
While the main town on the island is Nantucket town proper, a historic whaling town with picturesque cobblestone streets, dozens of waterfront restaurants and bars, and myriad shops and art galleries, the easternmost end of the island is home to Siasconset (known locally as 'Sconset). A quaint village famous for its clifftop cottages replete with climbing roses and hydrangeas, 'Sconset is home to a collection of incredible restaurants, a sweet general store, and some of the island's best beaches for swimming, sun bathing, and spotting the local seals.
As Rollins describes, the time-capsule style of this tiny island begins upon arrival. Travelers can choose to reach the island via ferry from Hyannis, Massachusetts; Steamship Authority offers the "slow ferry," which is a two-and-a-half hour ride across the Nantucket Sound (and allows cars), or the high-speed ferry (the "fast ferry"), which takes roughly an hour. Hy-Line Cruises, also based out of Hyannis, has an hour-long high-speed ferry, too. Conveniently, bikes and dogs are welcome across all three boats.
Alternatively, Nantucket is home to possibly the world's sweetest airport, which services both private jets and commercial airlines (like Cape Air, Delta, and JetBlue) and connects with major airports like Boston Logan and JFK.
When to Go
High season on Nantucket, as in many New England hamlets, is from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The summer seasons see tens of thousands of visitors every year—which can cause congestion around town but is also part of the island's fun summertime charm and lively atmosphere. That being said, couples in search of a slightly quieter experience may want to consider a shoulder season; September is especially ideal as the high season has just ended, but restaurants and shops are still in full swing and the ocean is still relatively warm (compared to the cold months!).
Things to Do On Nantucket
Broken down by season, Rollins recommends a few of the Faraway Island's can't-miss activities and events:
- In the spring: The Daffodil Festival, which opens the season with a colorful tailgate and picnic.
- In the summer: Beach picnics at Surfside or Steps Beach, yachting excursions around Nantucket Harbor, and afternoons spent sipping local brews at Cisco Brewery.
- In the fall: Scalloping, for which you need a simple permit.
- In the winter: Cozying up by the fireplace and bar at Greydon House for a craft cocktail.
The Best Honeymoon Hotels on Nantucket
Every single hotel on Nantucket brings its own character to a guest's experience; it's just a matter of the type of romantic stay you and your spouse are in search of. These are a few of our favorite accommodations on the island.
Tucked along the eastern shores of the island (closer to 'Sconset), The Wauwinet is a Nantucket icon. Equal parts intimate coastal elegance and modern luxury, the resort boasts 32 sumptuous rooms and suites, along with four private cottages. The on-site restaurant, TOPPERS, is one of the island's finest—the wine list is not to be missed.
White Elephant Nantucket
Located in town, White Elephant's harborside hotel and cottages epitomize Nantucket-chic. With multiple accommodation styles (hotel rooms and suites, garden cottages, residences, downtown lofts, and an inn), there is something for every kind of island dweller here. The convenient location means that the hustle and bustle of town is just around the corner, and those interested in staying on the property will have no shortage of activities to choose from, between the excellent spa, a full-service pool, and more.
Jared Coffin House
The island's most legendary hotel—and a historic landmark—is the Jared Coffin House, tucked away among the cobblestone streets of downtown. Guests will find that the mansion-turned-hotel pays homage to the island's seafaring history through its storied architecture and quaint décor while offering modern comforts and excellent on-site dining.
Housed in a former sea captain's home, this stylish 20-room hotel sits right off the town's harbor. Greydon House offers guests elegant accommodations, a Venetian-style restaurant on-property, and unique features like an overgrown English garden and an impressive art collection, in addition to the convenience of its downtown location.
The Most Romantic Restaurants on Nantucket
Island-dwellers truly are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining on Nantucket. Whether you're in search of the daily catch or a farm-to-table, candlelit dinner, you'll want to leave plenty of time on your schedule for several sit-down meals. These are Rollins' top recommendations:
- Le Languedoc Bistro: "Order a dirty martini and cap it with an ice cream sundae. Thank me later," says Rollins.
- TOPPERS at The Wauwinet: "Go early for cocktail hour on the lawn, then perch by the fire pit."
- The Brotherhood of Thieves: "Steeped in photography by locals, hit the new Notch Whiskey Bar upstairs and then ask for the sushi menu."
- The Nautilus: "Eat and drink everything!" Rollins recommends. Go for the intimate atmosphere and stay for the exquisite small plates, perfect for two.
- 167 Raw: One of her all-time favorite meals, Rollins suggests grabbing fish tacos, the tuna burger, or lobster rolls from the food truck and camping out at the beach for a Nantucket sunset.
- Straight Wharf: "Sit outside on the harbor and walk the wharf before or after dinner. All their food is reliably excellent!" says Rollins. Known as one of the island's dining hotspots, we recommend booking your reservation well in advance.