Current Driving Status: Closed to oversand vehicle traffic.
Emergency Beach Access Number: 1
Current Beach Conditions:
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.
Eel Point is an approximately 100 acre natural area sticking out off the west end of the island, composed primarily of tall sand dunes and saltmarsh. Eel Point is bordered by Nantucket Sound to the north and Madaket Harbor to the south. It is accessed via 40th Pole and beach driving is permitted during the winter, however access is often restricted in the spring and summer months due to nesting shorebirds. The waters on the north shore of Eel Point are calm and warm, and the views are beautiful and unique. Federally-protected shorebirds utilize this busy 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. For more information on Eel Point, visit the Nantucket Conservation Foundation website.
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. When you enter onto the beach, turn left from 40th Pole and continue driving down the beach to access Eel Point Beach.
Beach Driving Information
Eel Point is open for beach driving in the winter months, and is closed seasonally in the spring and summer months for nesting shorebirds. Eel Point may also be closed due to a lack of access caused by erosion. Eel Point can be 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 Eel 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. Eel Point is one of the most productive areas for nesting shorebirds and as such experiences seasonal vehicle restrictions during the breeding season. 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
Like other north-shore beaches, Eel Point offers excellent swimming and a great location for a day at the beach. 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 Eel Point Beach, 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. There is a large saltwater lagoon located on Eel Point nicknamed “the Bathtub” for its warm water in the summer. There are no restrooms or other amenities nearby so visitors should come prepared with snacks, water, sunscreen and bug spray.
Eel Point 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 Eel Point north shore is available here. A shellfish classification area map for Madaket Harbor is available here. For questions about any shellfishing closures, please contact the Department of Marine Fisheries directly.
Eel Point is one of the most productive shorebird areas on Nantucket, and as such is a bit of a bird-watcher’s paradise. There is always something interesting happening on this sandy spit, no matter the season. In the winter there are plentiful sea ducks like Common Eiders, Scaup, Long-tailed Ducks and Mergansers. There are also loons and occasionally grebes, and in some years Snowy Owls also make good use of this remote area. Many different types of gulls use Eel Point to feed and rest, and the rolling dunes are also good places for smaller songbirds like finches, sparrows, and snow buntings to forage. Spring and summer bring nesting Piping Plovers and Least Terns. These tiny little shorebirds are federally-protected species that needs our help to survive – please respect all fenced areas and make sure that your dogs are leashed. For a complete list of the bird life that can be found on Nantucket, click here. Seals are also frequent visitors to Eel Point, especially in the winter as Eel Point is in close proximity to Tuckernuck and Muskeget islands.
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