Despite our Nantucket hotel’s idyllic setting as a popular New England getaway destination, the island’s fame also includes a treacherous side: in recorded history, its shifting shoals have caused more than 700 shipwrecks!
To guide and protect generations of seafarers, three lighthouses were built, one at each corner of the island. Dotting the cliff-top shores, Nantucket’s three unique and historic lighthouses are now one of its most quintessential symbols.
Of the three, Sankaty Head Lighthouse is less famous than its siblings but boasts an intriguing history and perhaps the best option for a scenic day-trip, especially if you’re traveling by bike from our location at 76 Main.
Originally built in 1850, Sankaty Head Lighthouse was only automated as recently as 1965, and is still in operation on the very easternmost point of the island, in the village of Siasconset. As of 1987, the lighthouse has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Its distinctive brick tower, reaching 70 feet high, is poised on bluffs 90 feet above the crashing surf below. History of the light explains that its name, Sankaty, was actually the Wampanoag word for “high land.” According to local tradition, the bluffs were used by early European settlers as a lookout point for whale spotting before longer whaling expeditions were undertaken.
Although we may no longer need lighthouses to guide our ships, these beautiful symbols of the island’s history are still popular places to visit—with good reason. With its incredible views, we think Sankaty Head is one of the best—especially because of the gorgeous scenery you’ll enjoy as you leisurely pedal your bike down the road to get there.