As a popular holiday destination you might wonder if it is really possible to go to Nantucket. Nantucket Island is only 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, but there are no bridges or tunnels to get you there, so what are your options?

You can take your car to Nantucket on the 2.5 hour ferry service of Hyannis Shipping Authority. There are no roads or bridges between mainland Massachusetts and Nantucket, so beware of very high ferry fares to get your car.

Read on to learn everything you need to know to get to Nantucket Island and the ferry across the Nantucket Strait.

Can I drive to Nantucket Island?

Nantucket is an island near the coastal town of Cape Cod. There are no bridges or dams on the island, so the only option is to drive to Hyannis, Massachusetts and take a car ferry.

There are several ferries that commute regularly between Nantucket and the city throughout the year. Many people prefer to take the ferry only for passengers from Hyannis, the main port of Cape Cod, and rent a car on the island of Nantucket, but the ferry crossing is easy (and expensive) and takes only two and a half hours.

A harbour in the town of Iiannis, Massachusetts, where the boats moor during the day.
Port of Hyannis, Massachusetts, where you can take the ferry to Nantucket Island.

Shanshan0312/Shutterstock.com

Nantucket can be reached from the nearest major cities, New York and Boston. From New York it takes up to 6 hours, depending on traffic, and from Boston up to 3 hours. In both cases you should go to Hyannis, as this is the only place where you can take the ferry and continue your journey.

There’s no other way to get to Nantucket by car than to jump into a boat. Once arrived on the island of Nantucket, the roads are easy to navigate and you can drive without any problems.

How do I get from mainland Massachusetts to Nantucket?

There are many ways to get to Nantucket, but only the steamboat service can take you to Nantucket Island by car.

If you do not want to drive to Nantucket, consider flying to Nantucket Memorial Airport with commercial or private aircraft. Private or luxury airplanes are so popular in Nantucket that the airport is busier than Boston in season.

You can also travel by train or bus from most parts of the continent, from Massachusetts to Hyannis, and then board one of the fast passenger catamarans, which only takes an hour.

A flight to the Nantucket Memorial Airport is another option for a trip to Nantucket Island.
You can travel to Nantucket Island by private plane and rent a car.

EQRoy/Shutterstock.com

A trip to Nantucket Island gives you the freedom to travel to Cape Cod and the opportunity to explore the island at your leisure once you get there. The nearest major cities are Boston and New York.

From Boston, Massachusetts, you can reach I-93 in 1 hour and 30 minutes, then take Hwy 3 and then the Hyannis Highway. A little further, but it’s still worth the trip from New York to Nantucket.

The long drive from the Big Apple takes 6 hours on the 250 mile road to Giannis. Take the I-95, which is a scenic road along the coast, or, if you don’t have time, take the I-495, which is faster and avoids some traffic.

Don’t take the Born Bridge to Cape Cod – go further east and take the Sagamore Bridge instead, because the Mid-Cape Highway (US Route 6) will take you to Hyannis much faster.

Two ferry connections from Hyannis to Nantucket. Both the Steamship Authority and Hy-Line Cruises offer high-speed catamarans only for passengers who can reach Nantucket in an hour, but the Steamship Authority is the only ferry that also brings cars to the island.

The ferry is two and a half hours longer and slower, but it is the only way to get your car to Nantucket Island. There are no car ferries from other coastal locations, including the nearby Martha vineyard.

How long is the journey to Nantucket?

The time it takes to get to Nantucket depends on where you’re from. Boston and New York are the nearest major cities, and for a car trip to Nantucket you have to come from Hyannis, Massachusetts.

The shortest travel time between Boston and Hayannis is 2 hours. The shortest time between New York and Hyannis is four hours.

From Hyannis you have to take the ferry for the 30 mile long sea voyage between Hyannis and Nantucket. The fastest option is a passenger catamaran, which will take you to Nantucket harbour in one hour. However, if you go to Nantucket, you have to take the ferry, which takes 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Thanks to the ferry service and waiting time, Nantucket can be reached from New York in 7 hours and from Boston in at least 4 hours.

Nantucket is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Massachusetts, and in high season the crowds can be very high. That’s why, if you’re going on holiday or summer vacation, you should probably travel for a few more hours – even leaving the city can take some time.

Aerial view of Nantucket Island harbour with its sailboats and houses.
Despite the time it takes to get to the ferry and the cost, the charm of Nantucket is worth it.

Trevor_B/Shutterstock.com

What you need to know about driving Nantucket

You can reach Nantucket from the mainland, but you will have to take your car to the island by car ferry from Ayannis, Cape Cod.

Taking into account the ferry connection, a trip from Boston to Nantucket Island takes about 4 hours. It can be increased to 6 if the movement is intensive during the season.

Given the ferry connection, the journey from New York to Nantucket takes about 7 hours. During busy periods this time can be extended to 8 or 9 hours.

The ferry crossing over Nantucket harbour takes two and a half hours, but make sure you have enough time to wait, land and disembark, as it may take some time.

Please remember that you need to book your ticket in advance in order to board the ferry as there may not be room for passengers on the ferry. You can do that on https://www.nantucket-ma.gov/891/Travel-by-Ferry.

The cost of a one-way ticket for an adult for the car and passenger ferry company is $18.50. You will have to pay extra for a car that costs $200 for a one-way trip for a car that is less than 17 feet long and $225 for a larger car, which can cost you up to $400 for the return trip.

Unfortunately there is no direct ferry service between the vineyard of Martha and Nantucket. If you want to visit both, you have to go back to the mainland for the second ferry from Hyannis.

The car ferry is available every day, all year round, depending on the weather and sea conditions.

If you travel to Nantucket from the mainland, you have to take the weather into account. The car ferry works all year round, but in case of extreme weather conditions it is possible to cancel the order.

There is not a bad time to visit the island of Nantucket, because it is beautiful all year round. However, the island can be very busy, so it is worth visiting it outside the main travel and holiday season. So you can discover the beauty of the island, even without the hustle and bustle.

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