Today's Nantucket

Biking Is the Best Way to Explore Nantucket Island

by C. Oscar Olson of

Autumn is the finest season to visit Nantucket Island. The heat of summer has faded: daytime temperatures range from the low 60s to the 80s, making this month the ideal time to get back on two wheels. Getting around on a bike is a great way to take in the island’s quieter side, while slowing things down and spending time with friends and family. The exercise is just an added perk.

Every ferry operating between here and all ports makes transporting your own two-wheel ride easy and inexpensive, but in the event that you can’t bring your own bike, there are lots of places to rent quality, well maintained bicycles for adults and kids of all ages.

Young’s Bicycle Shop, just a few steps from Steamboat Wharf, has been a family business on Nantucket for more than 90 years. They make the process easy and fun. Say “hi,” hop on, and get on with your day because the Young family and their wonderful staff will provide you with some of the best bike rental options. Their top-quality fleet of Cannondale and Trek two-wheelers will get you to where you want to go with a safe and comfortable ride.

For an out-of-town option, beat the traffic of Main Street with Island Bike. With rentals offered by the day, week, or even month, Island Bike will, without a doubt, come through for your however long your stay might be. They also provide Burley bike trailers for the kids, pets, or luggage in tow, along with attachable trail-a-bikes, as well as single and double baby joggers. As with most shops on island they also provide sales, tune-ups, and repairs. Another out-of-town option is Easy Riders Bike Rentals. Located along the bike path to Surfside Beach, next to Yummy (where you can get provisions to satisfy your hunger after your ride), they offer low rates, a variety of fishing, surfing, and beach gear to go with your bike.

With more than 35 miles of dedicated bike paths 30 miles out to sea, a ride from Cook’s Cycles can also get you to all the points beyond. Choose from 8- speed cruisers made for pavement or something else for all the sandy streets and side roads you might encounter on your journey. Every summer season, Cook’s boasts a new fleet of wheels along with a full fleet of electric assist bicycles. You can also head next door to Cook’s Cafe for lunch to go before you head off on your bicycle excursion.

Bike Shares have been growing in popularity in places across the country, and in recent years Nantucket has found its own offering with Sandy Pedals. Their bikes are available to use at your ease and convenience, ready to pick up from specific spots across the island, 365 days a year. With 50 easily accessible, affordable, short term rentals to find wherever you might need one, you’ll never be without transportation. Their app and website ( are both easy to use and will take the guesswork out of getting on your way.

For a list of island bicycle shops, be sure to visit

There are countless memorable rides to head out during September and October, but it never hurts to have a guide. Jim Olney, avid cyclist and Land Use Manager at the Nantucket Conservation Foundation (NCF), has a couple of tours in store for the month of September. “We ride at a pace depending on the crowd,” Jim explained, “and we always play it by ear. I spend time with the group talking about ongoing projects, endangered species, and other interesting aspects related to the NCF.” With 14 years of experience working at Young’s Bicycle and an endless interest in Nantucket’s wild side, Jim is the ideal guide. A long time lover and avid user of all of NCF’s many properties, he wanted to do his part to support this island institution and to help visitors and residents see what there is to see. Both bike tours are free and open to the public, but space will fill fast so be sure to get on board. Head to to register.

On October 30, NCF is presenting their first ever Batacular Bike Race. This off-road race will take participants through some of the most beautiful trails found on-island. Proceeds benefit the continued work of the Nantucket Conservation Foundation. Registration is open now through the day of the race at the Nantucket Conservation website.

There are countless other trips of all measure to take with riders of all abilities. Nantucket is fairly flat and easy to traverse, making even the long hauls approachable for many. The ride to Siasconset might seem daunting (it’s over 6 miles from town), but once there you can spend the day dining, swimming, and seeing the unique sights the eastern end of the island has to offer. And the NRTA shuttle, should you decide to take that route home, carries bicycles.

The ride to Madaket is another long ride (5.462 miles from town), but once there you’ll have access to pristine beaches and gorgeous sunsets.

For a shorter ride from town (just a little over 2 miles), you might hop on the Surfside bike path and take it down to one of the most beautiful beaches on-island. Surfside Beach is known to be a hot-spot, but September definitely slows things down. Bring your towels, sunscreen, and plenty of water, but you can buy food at The Surfside Beach Shack. At this beach you’ll find bathrooms, changing rooms, and fresh-water showers for when you’re ready to head home.

For more Nantucket bicycle paths, details on water stations, tips on biking Nantucket, and safety reminders, visit

Get out into nature this Autumn and see this beautiful island from a different perspective. Things fly by too quickly looking out a car window, and fall is a great time to appreciate what really matters. We promise you won’t miss a thing!

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