A Remote World, All Its Own
The island’s Wampanoag Indian name means “faraway land,” and Nantucket seems like just that. Thirty miles off the Massachusetts coast but seemingly thousands, the 49-square-mile island floats in its own insular world of time and space.
There’s a feeling of adventure as you arrive by ferry from nearby Cape Cod to this pristine enclave of 18th- and 19th-century clapboard homes. Approximately 12,000 residents live on the island year-round, but that number easily swells to 55,000 during the summer. The proud local community bucks all trends to keep alive the island’s famously distinctive character: a salty Yankee quaintness blended with New England Old Guard gentility, the quiet impression of old money, and a zealous, deep-rooted appreciation for the island’s history and integrity.
Spread out among the island’s beaches and moors is one of the finest protected historic districts in America, with some of the most restrictive building ordinances. More than 800 homes and Quaker sea captains’ mansions were built between 1740 and 1840, when Nantucket was the world’s whaling capital – it is not by chance that Melville’s Captain Ahab and First Mate Starbuck hailed from Nantucket. The weathered, pink-rose-covered homes have earned the island the nickname The Little Grey Lady of the Sea.
The most resplendent of them all, and standing in romantic end-of-the-road isolation on a windswept spit of land 8 miles from charming Nantucket Town, is The Wauwinet, the island’s finest inn.
The classic cedar-shingled sanctuary dates to 1860, a rambling hostelry on a 26-mile stretch of shoreline protected as a wildlife refuge. Its casual yet somewhat luxurious, antique-filled country/ beach ambience carries over to the inn’s excellent and always popular restaurant, Topper’s, where specialties such as smoked seafood chowder and seared Nantucket Bay scallops celebrate the island’s frontyard bounty.