Though often shrouded in mist and fog, the Grey Lady’s spirit is a far cry from its moniker. Humbly boasting a historic downtown with cobblestoned streets and overfowing with charm, the often nautically-themed shops and exquisite food alone could take you through a couple days. But Nantucket only begins there. Bustling yet equally quiet, this New England island reeks of the salty fairytale-like charm you read about in novels…and gifted us a rather inimitable adventure. Read on for a peek into one of our favorite journeys yet.
Luke slowed our Jeep so we could gaze at the shallow tidal pond where the swans and their cygnets, basking on the sandy shores amongst the gulls and their chicks, seemed to be as enamored with the serenity of our surroundings as we were. The bumpy, sandy dirt road led us haphazardly through tangles of beach roses in what seemed to be the far edge of remotely lain backyards. We drove at a pace akin to a Sunday drive and spoke little, absorbing this already incomparable experience.
The road opened suddenly past the Wauwinet as we were funneled through the last of the bramble to find ourselves on soft yet distinct tracks on the open beach of the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge. The warm, humid, misty air filled our lungs and the breeze made haste in tangling my hair…salty, salubrious, peaceful, and calming.
The Great Point Light was not yet in sight, the sea spray clouding our view of the distant beach. Sunbathing seals peppered the sandy shores, indifferent to our passing 4×4, and we trekked on, cleansing our souls with each salty breath. And then rather without warning, the Light appeared in the mist: all at once proud, enchanting, steadfast, and captivating. I had no doubt that we had quite literally driven into a painting.
The clarity of the lighthouse increased as our distance decreased and the surrounding windswept dunes and waving grass framed it in a way I could only call stunning. The tracks guided us off the beach and wound around the west side of the light, where we quickly realized we were all alone.
We made our way back out to the beach on foot, and it wasn’t long before a seal just offshore caught sight of us. As we walked up and down the shore, he swam alongside us, curious if nothing else. Plopping ourselves on the sand with the quiet roar of the ocean in the background, we ate our paper-wrapped sandwiches while the gulls and piping plovers skittered and soared around us unfazed.
When we returned to the Light we were serendipitously greeted by a refuge volunteer who invited us to climb to the top of the Light. As we scaled the iron steps they clanged with en echo, further engaging our sense of seclusion and the intoxication that accompanied it. The ladder at the top ascended to our final vista, an exhilarating 360° view where land, sound, and sea blended like paints on canvas. And then, time seemed to stop.
There is only one word to describe the solitude, serenity, and surreality of this remote sand spit. It’s magical.
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