40th Pole

40th Pole image

Current Driving Status: Open to oversand vehicle traffic.

Emergency Beach Access Number: 45, 45A & 46

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.
  • Beachgoers must stay at least 150 feet away from any marine mammal.

Basic Information

40th Pole is one of the “essential” beach driving locations on Nantucket, alongside Great Point and Smith’s Point. It is a north-shore beach and therefore offers warmer waters and calm waves compared to the south shore of the island. The water is shallow and clear and in the summer the beach is usually wide and flat, with soft white sand and lots of seashells strewn along the shore.  This beach is on the west end of Nantucket and located far out of town, which means it misses some of the typical traffic experienced by other beaches like Dionis and Jetties, however during peak summer months 40th Pole remains a very popular beach. There are seasonal restrooms at 40th Pole, but no other amenities – people planning to spend the day at 40th Pole should come prepared. Eel Point Beach can be accessed via 40th Pole.

Directions and Access Information

Find your way onto Madaket Road from town and follow it until you see Eel Point Road on the right-hand side. Turn onto Eel Point Road and continue on even after the pavement ends and the road turns to dirt. Follow the dirt road past all of the houses approximately 1 mile. (There are occasionally large puddles along the dirt portion of Eel Point Road, so make sure your vehicle can handle off-road conditions if you attempt to access this beach). There is a dirt parking lot on the right – pull into the dirt parking lot for access to 40th Pole. There are two emergency access points that lead from the parking lot to the beach – please stay to the right and use access 45 to get onto the beach, and return via access 45A or 46.  

Beach Driving Information

40th Pole is open for beach driving year-round, unless it is closed for nesting shorebirds. 40th Pole is slightly more forgiving in terms of driving over sand than some of Nantucket’s other beaches, like Smith’s Point and Great Point – the sand here tends to be more densely packed and not quite as soft, which makes for slightly easier driving. However, the access roads through the dune system are steep and very soft. There is no driving east of Emergency Access 45 as all property past this point is privately owned. 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 40th Pole. 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. 40th Pole 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. Please respect boundaries and rules established by private property owners on private property.

Swimming and Recreation

With all of the outdoor options available here, it is no surprise that 40th Pole is one of the island’s most popular beaches. The calm, shallow water means swimmers of all ages and experience levels can enjoy the ocean, however please be aware that there are no lifeguards anywhere along 40th Pole, and swimmers should remain vigilant when in the water. There may be biting insects such as greenhead flies and mosquitos, especially on a day with little wind. 40th Pole is also a popular fishing location. There is usually an abundance of bait fish here such as the “bunker”, also known as a shadfish or alewife, which attract larger predators like bluefish. Stripes bass looking to enter Nantucket Harbor must swim past this section of the north shore.   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. A shellfish classification area map for the 40th Pole shore is available here. For questions about any shellfishing closures, please contact the Department of Marine Fisheries directly. 

Wildlife 

Nantucket’s wildlife take full advantage of this natural beach, especially during the winter months. Small songbirds like the Snow Bunting gather here in small flocks to forage on the beach, alongside Sanderlings and other Sandpipers. Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls loaf on the shore, and Turkey Vultures are often seen circling overhead, looking for a seal carcass to feed on. Deer browse through the tall dunes and often come on the beach. 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. 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. Seals can occasionally be spotted swimming offshore, but usually prefer other sites on the island like Great Point to haul out on the beach. 

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