For romance on Nantucket, go in September, when the weather’s warm and the island’s not crowded. Take the slow ferry. There are six over and back during the day. They take an hour longer than the one-hour fast ferries, but they cost much less, and why hurry when you can lounge out on the upper deck in the sun, watching sailboats, fishing boats, and yachts glide by while sea birds swoop overhead?
When you arrive at Nantucket, the first thing you should do is head to the Sunken Ship on Broad Street. Buy yourself a straw hat with a ribbon or flowers to shade your face and provide you with a keepsake to take home.
Now walk around the town. It won’t take you long, but it will take you back in time. The streets are still cobblestone, the sidewalks brick, the stores decorated with window boxes spilling with flowers. A sense of history will surround you. You’ll imagine captains of great ships arriving home after years away from their beloveds and women with flowered bonnets and ruffled dresses trotting along the streets with baskets in their hands. You’ll sense that so much has happened before on this island – passion and desire, danger and death, money and remorse, hope and endless love. Maybe you’ll take one of the ghost tours of the houses still haunted by former owners. Look up at the widows’ walks, where women waited, watching out toward sea for the return of their husbands’ ships—which might contain fabulous wealth and exotic treasures.
For lunch, try the Brotherhood of Thieves, an antique tavern with brick walls, working fireplaces, and delicious fish and chips. Or sit on the patio at the Boarding House, in the heart of the town, near art galleries, clothing shops, and the island’s famous library, packed with books and figureheads from whaling ships.
Afterwards, stroll down to the lighthouse at BrantPoint. This charming walk will take about twenty minutes, if you make time to enjoy all the scenic houses, five-star hotels, and the Coast Guard station on the way.
Here at the water, roll up your pant legs. Play in the surf. Watch children build sand castles or dream of castles in enchanted gardens lived in by chatelaines and counts. Stroll back to town, visit the bookstores, and buy a few romantic books.
If you decide to spend the night, you’ll find dozens of B&Bs right in town, and restaurants for every price and taste. If you have to return to what we call “the real world,” take the slow ferry again, so you can see all the stars in the night sky. When the ferry rounds BrantPoint, drop a penny overboard—that means you’ll return someday.
Nancy Thayer is the New York Times bestselling author of Nantucket Sisters, A Nantucket Christmas, Island Girls, Summer Breeze, Heat Wave, Beachcombers,Summer House, Moon Shell Beach, and The Hot Flash Club. She lives in Nantucket.
NANTUCKET SISTERS by Nancy Thayer/June 17/Ballantine Books