Along with Great Point and Smith’s Point, the 40th Pole is considered one of the “essential” beach driving destinations on the island of Nantucket. Because it is located on the island’s north coast, the water is often warmer, and the waves are less intense here than on the south side. The ocean is crystal clear and not very deep, and the beach is often broad and flat throughout the summer months. The sand is smooth and white, and many seashells are strewn along the shoreline.
This beach is on the westernmost tip of Nantucket and is situated quite far from the center of town. As a result, it does not see as much of the typical foot traffic as other beaches, such as Children’s and Jetties; however, during the height of the summer season, 40th Pole continues to be a very popular beach. Those who intend to spend the day at 40th Pole should come prepared because the only amenity available are restrooms open seasonally.
Rules & Regulations
- A fishing license is required to fish in this state.
- Dogs are permitted; however, they must be on a leash and have a valid license. At any time, owners and their canine companions are prohibited from entering any area that contains dune vegetation, marsh grass, protected animals, or other enclosed areas.
- It is forbidden to have open flames, including campfires, bonfires, and pyrotechnics.
- A 200-meter no-fly zone around any gated shorebird habitat prohibits using kites (of any sort) or drones.
- On public property, drinking alcohol is against the rules.
- On public beaches, you are not allowed to bring glass.
- On public property, it is against the rules to smoke.
- Do not dig holes that are deeper than your waist. Before you leave the beach, make sure any holes are filled in.
- Visitors to the beach must maintain a distance of at least 150 feet from any marine mammal.
Details about how to get there
Make your way onto Madaket Road coming out of town, and continue along until you spot Eel Point Road off to the right.
Take a right onto Eel Point Road and keep going even after the paved portion of the road finishes and the dirt section begins. Continue down the gravel road until you have passed all the houses (around one mile).
Be sure your vehicle can handle off-road conditions if you plan to visit this beach, as the dirt stretch of Eel Point Road is known to have huge puddles along it from time to time. On the right is where you’ll find a dirt parking area.
Swimming and Leisure Activities
It should come as no surprise that 40th Pole is one of the most popular beaches on the island, given all of the outdoor recreation opportunities available here. Because the water is shallow and peaceful, swimmers of any age or degree of expertise may enjoy the ocean. Nevertheless, swimmers should be aware that there are no lifeguards stationed anywhere along the 40th Pole, so they should always be on the lookout while in the water. Particularly on days when there is a minimal breeze, there could be a lot of insects like greenhead flies and mosquitoes.
Moreover, the 40th Pole is a well-known destination for anglers. There is typically an abundance of bait fish here, such as the “bunker,” also known as a shad fish or alewife, which attracts larger predators like bluefish. Any striped bass interested in entering Nantucket Harbor must first go through this portion of the north coast.
Grilling is permitted on the beach, and visitors are encouraged to bring either a charcoal or gas grill to do so. Cooking fires contained within a fire ring and kept at least 10 feet away from any combustible material or plants on the dunes do not require a permit. The beach does not have trash cans, so if you generate any waste there, you have to take it with you when you leave.
Details about Driving on the Beach
It is possible to drive on the beach at 40th Pole throughout the year unless it is closed due to breeding shorebirds. When it comes to driving on sand, 40th Pole is slightly more forgiving than some of Nantucket’s other beaches, such as Smith’s Point and Great Point. The sand at the 40th Pole tends to be more densely packed and not as soft, which makes for relatively easier driving. Unfortunately, the roads that lead through the dune system to the beach are quite steep and sandy.
Driving is prohibited east of Emergency Access 45 since all land beyond this point is privately owned, hence off-limits. Please ensure your vehicle has a tire gauge, shovel, tow rope, and jack with jack boards.
The ideal range for tire pressure is between 12 and 15 PSI, and the appropriate operating setting is “4 HIGH.” To drive onto 40th Pole, you will need a beach driving permit, which may be obtained through the Town of Nantucket Police Department or by visiting their website and filling out the appropriate form.
When driving on the beach, the speed restriction is strictly enforced at 20 miles per hour; however, the speed drops to 5 miles per hour when you are anywhere within 100 yards of a pedestrian.
Because the 40th Pole is such a desirable location for the breeding of shorebirds, the region is subject to temporary vehicle restrictions during the breeding season. It’s also possible that there are regulations in place to prevent erosion. Please keep your car on the established vehicle tracks that are already there; driving over the dunes’ natural vegetation or making new paths is not allowed. You can stop and park your vehicle wherever along the beach; however, you should move away from the main trackway so that other vehicles can pass.
When a vehicle limitation has been implemented, pedestrian traffic is encouraged; nevertheless, pedestrians must observe fences and signage and refrain from entering prohibited zones. We kindly ask that you observe the borders and regulations the property owners have established on private land.
Wildlife on Nantucket makes the most of this natural beach, especially in the winter. Sanderlings and several other species of sandpipers may be found here foraging on the beach alongside smaller songbirds like the Snow Bunting that cluster here in tiny flocks.
Turkey Vultures may frequently be seen hovering above in search of a dead seal they can feast on. Herring gulls and Great-black-backed gulls can be found lazing around on the coast. There are often sightings of deer on the beach as they wander through the large dunes. The Northern Harrier, which is also known as the “Marsh hawk,” “Hen harrier,” and even the “Grey ghost,” can be seen throughout the year skimming low over the sand in search of mice or birds to feed upon.
Spring and summer are the nesting seasons for Piping Plovers and numerous species of terns, including the Least and Common terns. There are a lot of oystercatchers and other types of shorebirds around here.
An increase in the number of migrating bird species, such as the Peregrine Falcon and its smaller cousins, the Merlin, and the American Kestrel, may be seen throughout the autumn season. It is possible to see seals swimming in the ocean from time to time, although the animals typically choose to haul out on the beach at other locations on the island, such as Great Point.