Some of Nantucket’s most memorable places to visit are our three historic lighthouses. Nantucket is filled with rich history, and Brant Point, Sankaty, and Great Point Lighthouses are routed deep into our Island’s history of being one of the world’s most famous whaling ports. All three are beautiful in their own way and sit perched overlooking Nantucket’s exquisite surrounding waters. Make sure to carve out time to visit all three for some of the best photos this Island can offer. Or, you could do a Nantucket bucket list challenge and visit all three in one day!
Lighthouse sticker artwork available on Etsy by local artist Andrew Reinhard: LighthouseStickers
Brant Point Lighthouse
Brant Point Lighthouse is extremely accessible for all visitors as it is just a short walk from the center of downtown. Walk down South Beach Street past the White Elephant Hotel to the end of Easton Street and you will find yourself ankle-deep in sand starring at the beautiful lighthouse just steps away.
Established in 1746, Brant Point Lighthouse rests off of the center point guarding our beautiful harbor. The lighthouse, built under colonial America at the time, was the second lighthouse ever constructed in the United States. After eight other versions of the lighthouse were removed, the ninth tower was constructed and still sits today. Of the previous lights that existed, four of them either burned down or blew down from the winds, two were condemned, and two were taken down due to poor construction. A brick tower built in 1856 to be made the new lighthouse was deactivated in 1900, however, it still sits today acting the Nantucket Coast Guard Station. Brant Point Lighthouse sits 26 feet tall and is famous for being visitor’s first and last photo as it is passed by every vessel traveling through the harbor. Fisher Tip: Throw a penny overboard as your ’round the point to ensure a safe trip back to Nantucket in the future.
Sankaty Head Light
Sankaty Head Lighthouse was built in 1850 and automated in 1965. The beautiful candy cane lighthouse sits on the easternmost point of the island in Sconset. The lighthouse’s name is derived from the language of the native Wampanoag Indians, which means highlands. The tower stands 70 feet tall overlooking the steep eroding bluff.
In 2007, the Sconset Trust acquired the lighthouse and had it moved 400 feet inland to protect it from falling off into the ocean as land is stripped away by the harsh stormy winds. The lighthouse’s stomping ground is known for its breathtaking views of Sankaty Head Golf Club, Nantucket Golf Club, as well as the empty Atlantic Ocean. If you are planning a trip to visit the lighthouse, it can be accessed by a short walk from Sconset, by car, or by the NRTA Wave bus on the Sconset Via Polpis Road route that brings you right by it!
Great Point Lighthouse
Great Point Lighthouse was first constructed in 1769 and is located on the northernmost point of Nantucket. The lighthouse stands 70 feet tall and sits on a thin stretch of beach where the strong currents of both the Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean meet. The point is difficult to get to but the rip current creates one of the best spots to fish. After the first two versions were destroyed by a fire and by a storm, the current version was built in 1986.
The light is powered by solar power and the lighthouse is covered in a thick concrete mat shell to protect it from wind erosion. Many journey out to the point to explore the Great Wildlife Refuge and to watch the many seals that inhabit the area by while enjoying a beautiful day at the beach!
For more information on how to visit Great Point Lighthouse and more on the unique wildlife preserve around it, check out our blog ‘Venturing Out to Great Point Nantucket’.