8 Tried-and-true Tips to Vacation in Nantucket on a Budget

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We have visited Nevada, New York and California in the 2010s. This time, we bring you another post about the East coast: a well-known tourist destination in the state of Massachusetts! Nantucket is one of the most famous getaways for affluent jet setters. The exotic island is one of the United States' gems bursting with pristine views and opulence from exclusive high-end restaurants, designer boutiques, and luxurious resorts.

Nantucket On A Budget

It would seem impossible to vacation in Nantucket on a shoestring budget and have a memorable time. On the contrary, the pristine island has plenty of fun activities you can indulge in even if you're on a tight budget. You don't have to spend a fortune or win a lottery to enjoy an Insta-worthy Nantucket vacation. Here are the best tips and tricks for travelling and vacationing in Nantucket:

#1. Travel during the off-peak season

Summer in Nantucket is like a carnival, with the scenic island attracting up to 50,000 vacationers. Nantucket's peak season ushers in the shoulder season when droves of summer tourists reduce to a trickle.

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There are virtually tourist hordes so you can enjoy great discounts on almost everything from travel charges to accommodation rates. You'll save a ton by travelling to Nantucket during the off-peak season, starting from March to April, and September to October.

#2. Be accommodation savvy

Besides transport charges, accommodation is also a hefty expense for most vacationers. Nantucket has a bit of everything from high-end hotels like the Relais & Chateaux that charge up to $660 to budget options such as The Languedoc Inn for $195. However, if you're fortunate to have family or friends in Nantucket, call in a favour. You get to cut down on accommodation costs, and they can give you tips on affordable fun activities you can indulge in while you're on the island.

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But, if you don’t have family and friends in Nantucket who can host you, renting a house is a solid option. When faced with the option of shelling out $1,000 per week on hotel accommodation, a rental home is the perfect solution - for cheap sakes! Nantucket has a variety of budget-friendly rental houses fitted with all the necessary amenities regardless of the size of your family.

#3. Ditch your car for public transport

Although driving is convenient, it isn't the case for Nantucket. Taking your car on vacation to the island is difficult and expensive—the Steamship Authority Traditional Ferry charges between $360 and $600 per car. But if you board the ferry at Hyannis Port, you'll only pay $39.50. Kids between 5 and 12 years of age will pay $20.25, and if you carry your bike, you'll pay an extra $7. Alternatively, when you arrive, you can rent one at the Steamship dock or the Nantucket Bike Shop for $35 a day. The 30-mile journey via the Nantucket Sound takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes. If you prefer a faster means, you can choose the passenger-only ferry, which takes one hour but you'll have to pay $65.

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Cycling is the easiest and cheapest way to move around the island. You'll find plenty of bike paths to the picturesque Siasconset village from Surfside beach. If you don't fancy cycling, you can get around the island using one of the inexpensive WAVE shuttle buses that cost anywhere from $2 to $3. Several taxi companies in Nantucket charge between $11 and $38 depending on the number of passengers and the area. You can also rent out a jeep for $60 a day and drive along the sandy shoreline. We recommend you do so during the week to get up to 50% discount rates if you're flying in. Using JetBlue Flight coupons, you can snag a mid-week flight to Nantucket for as low as $30.

#4. BYOB

If your choice of accommodation is not all-inclusive, we suggest you bring your booze. Sure, you can splurge on a fancy wine bottle here and there, but it's worth noting that alcohol can be your biggest expense while vacationing. So pack up some mini-bottles of liquor and save up on cash. You can kick back with a drink or two at the beach while watching the sunset.

#5. Choose free or low-cost entertainment spots.

Venture off the beaten path from popular tourist spots and discover free or low-cost hidden gems. Popular attractions like museums and historical tours will cost you around $27 per day. The good news is that there are several free exciting events organised by local organisations such as the Nantucket Parks and Recreations. Go for a concert at the African Meeting House on Sunday afternoon. You can also have fun playing disc golf in the afternoon without spending a fortune, courtesy of the non-profit organisation Nantucket Disc Golf.

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Visit the Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum and learn about Nantucket's awful whaling and maritime history. The museum is also home to some of the most stunning bogs, marshes, and seagrass-speckled dunes. You can also take a free yoga class at the Children's Beach and the Nantucket Atheneum, attend a concert or watch a free movie. Cisco Brewers is the go-to spot for an exciting live art and music scene. Plus, you get to sample various craft beers and local liquor all day. You can also explore the many galleries on the island (gallery stroll every Friday night)!

#6. Beaches and Cheap Eats

Nantucket is famous for its scenic beaches that draw in vacationers in droves. With more than 25 stunning beaches on the island, you have plenty of sand and sun to enjoy. The beaches are all free to use, so you only have to choose the ideal ones to explore. The beaches along the shore are synonymous with rip tides making them ideal for surfers, while the northern beaches like Dionis Beach have much calmer waters, great for families with young kids. Catch the sunset at Steps Beach over the stunning Atlantic while wolfing down a tasty sandwich from Henry's Jr. Sandwich Shop.

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Most beaches are dotted with Nantucket's signature food trucks serving delicious, affordable foods. You undoubtedly want to enjoy the local delicacies when you're on vacation, but eating out frequently can stretch your already limited budget. Alternatively, you can buy your groceries at Stop & Shop and prepare a meal or snacks. Stash your food and drinks in the cooler when going to the beach and save up on eating expenses.

#7. DIY Excursions

Even if your income cannot bear the weight of an extravagant vacation to Nantucket, you can still have a memorable trip affordably. Explore Nantucket's famous hiking trails and lighthouses by yourself. You don't have to incur any extra costs for a tour guide. Tour the iconic Great Point Lighthouse or Sankaty Lighthouse on the east coast of the island.

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Go hiking along the Sconset Bluff Walk and catch picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean sea cliffs and the island's most luxurious homes. Nature lovers will enjoy a walk or jog through Sanford Farm, synonymous with beautiful trails and exotic wild birds.

#8. Visit thrift shops

You can shop with abandon for various great quality hand-me-downs at the Nantucket Hospital Thrift Shop. Another steal is the mid-island Seconds Shop, where you'll find designer brands for a fraction of the price and as good as new.

Wrap Up: Nantucket On A Budget

Nantucket is one of the most visited islands on the earth - and with good reason. The iconic beaches, historical monuments, and of course, the tasty food. Nantucket has an overwhelming array of exciting activities but they are quite pricey. We’ve narrowed it down to eight of the best hacks for vacationing on the island that won’t dent your budget.

How would you vacation in Nantucket on a budget? Feel free to share any advice & tips with us below :)

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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