Wanderlusting: Nantucket Beaches and Brant Point Light
“A beach is not only a sweep of sand, but shells of sea creatures, the sea glass, the seaweed, the incongruous objects washed up by the ocean.” ~ Henry Grunwald
Island living doesn’t necessarily mean that a whole island is swimmable. In fact I technically live on an island, yet it feels more like a concrete jungle (because it is) then a beachy oasis. Steep cliffs, rough terrain, and erosions typically make up much of island living. Never mess with the angry mistress that is the sea!
Nantucket was very different. Most of the island is surrounded by sandy shores making it perfect to go for a cool down dip in the sea. Depending on what side you are on, the waves, terrain and water temperature will vary greatly, making you go from feeling like you are in Acadia, to sunning yourself on Coronado.
After having run to Surfside Beach that first morning in Nantucket, we decided to go back there for some quality beach time in the afternoon. Located on the South Shore, it had a large parking lot for cars and bikes as well as a food shack and bathrooms.
There is a pathway, which is surrounded by coniferous trees, not only giving you those New England feels, but also the impression of taking a step back to a more primitive period. Despite the almost secluded like feel, it is one of Nantucket’s most popular beaches, and has life guards on duty.
While it had been desolate and foggy, when I had run there that morning, it was bustling with beach goers that afternoon. The waves were still quite angry and while swimming, and even jumping them, would have been difficult, it definitely lived up to its namesake, and was perfect conditions for surfing.
One of my favorite beaches I have been to (ever!) is Steps Beach which is located about four miles from town, and about ten minutes by bike from where we were staying.
Nestled amongst million dollar homes, the path leading down to the water was like a beach version of the secret garden. Walking through high shrubs that gave way to beachwood fencing, and steep, but picturesque steps (thus the name) that led down to the small but quiet beach, it felt we like we had stumbled upon the holy grail of beaches.
The downside to this Steps is there are no bathrooms, food stands, or showers here, but it actually made it nicer and because of the more natural environment, it was not as crowded as Surfside. We brought food, chairs, and libations with us and camped put there all week, biking to and fro the house.
The surf was calm. The water was shockingly warm for not only being on the Northside of the island, but also for New England water which typically trends towards the cooler side.
I am such a baby when it comes to the cold, and even I went in the water every day. There is a sandbar that you could swim out to, and hang out on, especially at low tide. My cousin had brought tubes and we relaxed on them in the water, letting the gentle tides pull us in a lulling calm.
Brant Point Light
On my last day in Nantucket, instead of running to Surfside, I ran to Brant Point, which is located at the edge of the village. The station was originally built in 1746, and has the distinction of being the tenth light and seventh tower at that point, due to fires, and shoddy workmanship of the previous nine.
In fact the fourth “lighthouse” was a lantern held up between two spars. The light was so dim, that ship’s captains mistook it for a lightening bug, and nicknamed it bug light.
After years of shoddy building, in 1856 a true lighthouse tower was erected finally giving mariners the help they needed to navigate Nantucket’s channels. That structure, though out of commission, is still standing today and is located on the Coast Guard base in Nantucket.
Due to shifting currents, in 1901 the structure we see today was built at the very end of Brant Point to offer safer guidance to sailors. It is a smaller structure then its predecessor, but much more picturesque with a wooden catwalk covering the sand.
It was a foggy morning hiding the sunrise, but it had its own charm as I ran along the quiet streets reaching the lighthouse. As I stopped to catch my breath and listen to the waves, every so often I caught the sun trying to burn through the fog, and the silhouettes of ships bobbing just off shore. It was the perfect place to photograph, as well as pay adieu to a Nantucket summer.
What is your favorite beach?