40th Pole is a must-visit destination for beach-goers or beach driving on Nantucket. It is a north-shore beach boasting warmer waters and calmer waves than the island’s south shore. The waters are shallow and transparent, and the beach is usually wide and flat in the summer, with soft white sand and numerous seashells scattered along the shoreline. It’s also a great spot for families with young children and fishermen.
Keep in mind that there are only seasonal restrooms at 40th Pole, so make sure to come prepared for the day. There are no trash cans on the beach, so make sure to take out all the trash that you bring. Dogs who don’t like big waves will be able to have fun in the shallow waters. However, keep in mind that there are no lifeguards.
The 40th Pole is situated on the western side of Nantucket, away from the busy town center. However, it remains a popular destination with many visitors during the peak summer season.
How you get there
If you want to reach the 40th Pole, the best way to get there is by setting off on Madaket Road from town. When you turn onto Eel Point Road, keep going even when the pavement ends, and the way turns to dirt. You’ll need to drive along the dirt track approximately a mile beyond all the houses. Remember to use a vehicle that is designed for off-roading. When you reach the dirt parking lot, turn into it for access to the 40th Pole. Two emergency access points off the parking lot lead to the beach. Heed the directions – take Access 45 and keep it right. To get back, you can either use access 45A or 46.
40th Pole is open for beach driving all year, except when it’s closed for nesting shorebirds or due to erosion. This beach is more forgiving than some of Nantucket’s other beaches – the sand is denser and firmer, which makes it easier to drive on. But, the access roads through the dune system can be quite steep and soft.
Prepare for a safe and successful beach drive by having a tire gauge, shovel, tow rope, and a jack with jack boards. If your vehicle has traction control, switch it off so it won’t interfere with the 4WD system. Remember to obtain a beach driving permit from the Town of Nantucket Police Department, too. Check here.
When driving on the beach, obey the speed limit of 20mph. If you’re within 100 yards of a pedestrian, you must slow down to 5mph. In the dunes, stick to the existing vehicle tracks – no creating new trails or driving through the vegetation. After a vehicle restriction is in place, pedestrians can go, but they must remain in areas that are open to them and observe any signage or fencing. Make sure to enjoy your time safely in the dunes!
Swimming and Fishing
40th Pole is one of the most popular beaches with its vast array of outdoor activities. The tranquil, shallow waters make it perfect for swimmers of any age or skill level; however, it is important to keep in mind that there are no lifeguards on duty, so swimmers should stay alert at all times. On days with little wind, you may find yourself surrounded by mosquitos and greenhead flies, so be sure to arm yourself with bug repellent.
40th Pole is a great spot for fishing. You can find plenty of bait fish, such as “bunker or shad fish and alewife, luring predators like bluefish. If you want, you too can cook there. Grilling is allowed as long as you use a charcoal or propane grill. Small, contained cooking fires are allowed if they’re located away from flammable materials or vegetation.
The recreational scallop season occurs between October and March, and permits are required for anyone wishing to partake. These permits can be obtained from the Public Safety Facility at 4 Fairgrounds Road. Scallops taken must have a legally raised growth ring of at least 10mm from the hinge or larger than 63.5 mm from the hinge to a shell. Quahogs and oysters can be harvested any time with a recreational shellfish permit, but soft-shell and razor clams are off-limits from June 15th to September 15th. If you want to know more about the Town of Nantucket’s Shellfishing Policy and Regulations, you can check this page.
The Town of Nantucket Department of Health and Human Services and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health have joined forces to maintain the security of Nantucket’s beaches during the summertime. Every week, they gather seawater samples to be tested at the bio lab and keep a close eye on the coliform bacteria levels. Should the count go above the safe threshold for two weeks, the beach will be temporarily closed to swimming until it is safe to reopen. This way, they keep beachgoers safe while taking in Nantucket’s beauty.
The wildlife of Nantucket takes advantage of its beaches, particularly in the winter. Small songbirds like the Snow Bunting flock here to search for food, joined by Sanderlings and other Sandpipers. Herring Gulls and Great-black Backed Gulls rest on the shore, and Turkey Vultures can be seen in the sky, looking for seals to consume. Deer strolls through the tall dunes, and Northern Harriers glide low over the dunes year-round.
From spring to summer, Piping Plovers build nests, and various tern species, including the Least and Common, frequent the area. Oystercatchers and other shorebirds are also commonly seen. As fall approaches, Peregrine Falcons, Merlins, and American Kestrels arrive in migration. Seals can sometimes be spotted swimming in the ocean.
40th Pole is the ideal beach destination for those looking for a tranquil, family-friendly environment. Its small waves and picturesque location makes it the perfect spot to spend a day enjoying the sun and sand.