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  • Robin Slick

"One Point to Another" Smith's & Great Point Beaches

Updated: Apr 21

Beach driving on Nantucket offers an experience like no other. Gaining access to these outermost parts of the island provides a day of adventure, worthy of many photos. As its been said, "It's hard to take a bad picture on Nantucket!"

Photos by Robin Slick

Expansive North Shore Tidal Flats

Smith's Point Beach

Smith's Point is located at the western most end of Nantucket, past the village of Madaket, the iconic Millie's restaurant, and across Hither Creek. On a clear day, Tuckernuck Island can be seen across this 1.5 mile barrier beach. Smith’s Point consists of both north and south shore beaches, with dunes in between, and is considered to be the perfect spot to watch the island's famous “Madaket Sunsets.”

Madaket Sunset from the South Shore

Surf Casting & The Bonito Bar

One of the most sought after beaches to fish from shore, and with different species of fish to catch depending on the season, this is a must for avid fisherman. In the spring, Smith’s Point is usually the first spot where stripers arrive and the fall is home to the famous “Bonito Bar," an area of water between the Point and Tuckernuck known for its abundance of bonito. Also, during the fall season, lots of false albacore and bluefish can be caught from the Point.

David Surf Casting

Swimming in Calm Waters

The north shore beach of Smith’s Point offers calm warm waters for a relaxing swim. Tidal flats make for shallower water along this area. The south shore beach has faster-flowing and deeper water, with a moderate surf, and is also good for swimming. It is important to note there are no lifeguards along either shore lines.

South Shore Beach


Reported by the Town of Nantucket, in the winter, it is common to come across seals, snowy owls, and small songbirds. Deer actually use this point to cross/swim between Tuckernuck and Nantucket. The warmer months of spring and summer bring nesting Piping Plovers and a variety of tern species. Sandpipers, Oystercatchers, and numerous other types of shorebirds can be seen at the Point as well. The fall season brings an influx of migratory bird species like the Peregrine Falcon and its smaller relatives, the Merlin and American Kestrel.

Piping Plovers on the North Shore

Great Point Beach

Sunrise to sunset, and all the natural beauty in between. Located at the northern most end of the island, is the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, home to the well-known Great Point Lighthouse and beautiful coastal conservation lands maintained and protected by the Trustees of Reservations. Driving along this shoreline alone is a unique experience. Visitors are amazed as to how close the tires come to the water's edge, nearly touching the waves.

Great Point Lighthouse

Fishing for the"Nantucket Slam"

Fisherman from all around the world come to the island to reel-in Nantucket’s four main species: striped bass, bluefish, bonito and false albacore. Whether on a fly or on a spinning reel, there is no better fishing experience than to discover where they are at a given moment, and then casting for them in wadders or swim shorts, knee deep in the water. It's been said that the true test of a Nantucket fisherman is to catch this “Nantucket Slam” of four species from the beach at Great Point, a feat rarely accomplished.

Surf Casting at Sunrise

An Abundance of Seals

Over the last decade Nantucket has seen a sizable increase in seals, especially at the point, near the lighthouse, where hundreds lay basking in the sun. Although quite adorable, they can be territorial and make it challenging for fisherman to catch fish. Often, David hooks a fish, only to be eaten by a seal. But, they were there first and you're taking their dinner!

Other Things Washed Ashore

In May, a four-day storm with sustained 40-50 mph winds washed up the Great Round Shoal buoy just south of Great Point, along Nantucket's eastern shoreline. The HUGE buoy is the same one that washed ashore on Nantucket, near Quidnet Beach in March 2018. The Great Round Shoal Channel is located between Monomoy Island, Cape Cod, and Great Point.

The Great Round Shoal Buoy

When the sun begins to set, it's time to pack up and leave. Already looking forward the next adventure, the moments from the day have been captured in our minds, souls and in digital pictures for eternity. When visiting these beaches make sure to check out all of the important information that you will need to make it a fun excursion, rather than one, where you spend your day digging out your car from the sand. For information about the rules and regulations, including drive-on permits, and much more, click HERE for Smith’s Point and HERE for Great Point.

Blog written & photographed by Robin Slick


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