Smith's Point

Smith's Point image

Current Driving Status: Open to oversand vehicle traffic

Emergency Beach Access Number: 1

Current Beach Conditions: 

beach signs

Rules & Regulations  

  • Fishing is permitted with a state license, which can be purchased here
  • Dogs are allowed, providing they are leashed and licensed. Dogs and owners are not allowed in any dune vegetation, marsh grass, protected wildlife and other fenced areas at any time.
  • Bonfires, campfires, and fireworks are not permitted.
  • No kites (of any kind) or drones within 200 meters of any fenced shorebird habitat.
  • Alcohol is not permitted on public property.
  • Glass is not permitted on public beaches.
  • Smoking is not permitted on public property.
  • Please do not dig holes deeper than the waist. Fill in any holes before you leave the beach.

Basic Information

Smith’s Point, also known as Esther’s Island (named after Hurricane Esther formed an island from Smith’s Point by cutting it in two in 1961), is an approximately 1.5 mile long pristine barrier beach located at the farthest west end of Nantucket, past the village of Madaket. Smith’s Point consists of both a north and south facing shoreline, with rolling dunes in between. As referred to by locals, “Smith’s” offers the best place to view the famous Madaket Sunset. This natural area is great for fishing and watching wildlife such as birds and seals. On a clear day, one can also glimpse Tuckernuck Island from the end of the point. Federally-protected shorebirds utilize this remote beach for nesting and breeding during the spring and summer months, so please respect any symbolic fencing and signage in place, and do not enter any fenced areas. Look out for signs stating “Restricted Area” that delineate shorebird habitat. 

Directions and Access Information

Follow Madaket Road all the way to the very end, and take a right onto Ames Ave when you see the concrete barriers. There is no parking past this point, so if you need to reduce your tire pressure, it is recommended to do so in the public Madaket Beach parking lot, on the left just before the end of the road. Continue down Ames Ave, across Millie’s Bridge, and turn right onto New Jersey Ave. Take a left at the stop sign onto Massachusetts Ave and continue down the road onto Smith’s Point beach. There are no amenities past the end of Madaket Road, so please come prepared with sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, and plenty of water if you plan to hike the beach. 

Beach Driving Information

Only experienced drivers with a 4-wheel drive vehicle should attempt to drive on this beach. The sand is very soft in many areas, and trails cross through tall dunes. Please make sure you are well equipped with a tire gauge, shovel, tow rope, and jack with jack boards. The recommended tire pressure is between 12 and 15 PSI and please operate in the “4 HIGH” setting. Additionally, if your vehicle is equipped with a “traction control” setting, please turn it off to prevent interference with the 4WD system. A beach driving permit, which can be obtained from the Town of Nantucket Police Department by clicking here, is required in order to drive onto Smith’s Point. There is a strict speed limit of 20mph when driving on the beach, which is reduced to 5mph when you are anywhere within 100 yards of a pedestrian. Smith’s Point is a very productive area for nesting shorebirds and as such experiences seasonal vehicle restrictions during the breeding season. There may also be restrictions in place due to erosion. Please stay within existing established vehicle tracks; driving through dune vegetation or creating new trails is not permitted. You may stop and park anywhere along the beach, however make sure to pull off the main trackway so that traffic can get by. Pedestrian traffic is welcome after a vehicle restriction is in place, but pedestrians must obey fencing and signage and continue to stay out of restricted areas.          

Smiths Point map

Swimming and Recreation

The north shore of Smith’s Point offers the calm, warmer waters of Nantucket Sound for a fun, relaxing swim. Expansive tidal flats make for shallower water along this area, however there may be biting insects like greenhead flies and mosquitos due to proximity to the dune vegetation and the sheltering nature of the dune from the wind. The south shore of Smith’s Point consists of faster-flowing and deeper water, with moderate surf. There are no lifeguards at any location along Smith’s Point. Swimming on the south shore should only be attempted by experienced swimmers. 

While it can create more difficult swimming conditions, the rip at the tip of the point is also an appealing area to fisherman. Smith’s Point is a popular fishing location especially in the fall when there are plenty of False Albacore and Bluefish to be caught from shore. Striped bass use the area throughout the season – Smith’s Point is the usually the first location to welcome Stripers when they arrive in spring, and in the fall Smith’s Point is home to the famous “Bonito Bar”, an area of water between the Point and Tuckernuck known for prolific Bonito fishing. Grilling on the beach is allowed, preferably with a charcoal or propane grill (please do not leave charcoal briquettes on the beach). Small, enclosed cooking fires located away from any flammable material or dune vegetation are allowed without a permit – please click here for further regulations on fires. Keep this beautiful beach clean - all trash and items are “carry in, carry out”, there are no trash receptacles on the beach so please bring any trash you create with you when you leave.

Shellfishing and Water Quality

To ensure the safety of Nantucket’s beaches during the busy summer season, the Town of Nantucket Department of Health and Human Services conducts weekly sea water testing. Done in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the samples are collected weekly for analysis at the Barnstable County biolab, and coliform bacteria levels monitored to ensure safe swimming conditions. Should levels exceed safe margins for two consecutive weeks, the beach will be closed to swimming and monitored until it’s safe to return. 

The recreational scallop season runs from October 1 – March 31 and is open to all who carry a recreational shellfish permit from the Town of Nantucket. Permits are $35 for residents and $125 for non-residents, and are available at the Public Safety Facility at 4 Fairgrounds Road. Scallops taken must have a legal raised growth ring a minimum of 10mm from the hinge or are larger than 2.5 inches (63.5 mm) from hinge to shell. Quahogs and oysters can be harvested year-round under a recreational shellfish permit. Soft-shell and razor clam shellfishing is prohibited from June 15th – September 15th. A comprehensive list of Town of Nantucket Shellfishing Policy and Regulations, including daily harvest limits and shellfish sizes, can be found here. For a shellfish classification area map of Smith’s Point and Madaket Harbor, click here

For questions about any shellfishing closures, please contact the Department of Marine Fisheries directly.

Wildlife 

Wildlife is abundant on Smith’s Point. In the winter, Gray Seals and their pups can be observed lounging at the end of the point. Snowy owls often dust the dunes for days or weeks at a time, as they feed on sea ducks floating offshore, such as Common Eiders and Surf Scoters. Small songbirds like the Snow Bunting flit through the beach grass in small flocks. Deer also use this sandy spit as their crossing point between Tuckernuck and Nantucket. Throughout the year the Northern Harrier – also known as “Marsh hawk”, “Hen harrier”, or even as “Grey ghost” can be spotted cruising low over the dune in search of rodents or birds to prey upon. Spring and summer bring nesting Piping Plovers and a variety of tern species, most notably the Least and Common tern. Sandpipers, Oystercatchers, and numerous other shorebirds abound. The fall season brings an influx of migratory bird species like the Peregrine Falcon and its smaller relatives, the Merlin and American Kestrel. For a complete list of the bird life that can be found on Nantucket, click here. 

Important Phone Numbers & Web Addresses

Nantucket Police & Fire Department (emergency) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 911

Nantucket Police Department (non emergency) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(508) 228–1212

Nantucket Fire Department (non emergency) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(508) 228–2324

Beach Hotline/ Marine Dept . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(508) 228–7261

Natural Resources Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(508) 228–7230

Coast Guard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(508) 228–0388

Environmental Police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(800) 632–8075

Marine Mammal Stranding Team (via Police) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(508) 228–1212