FFG Travels: The White Elephant, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts

Whenever you pick up a travel magazine, scroll through a social media site or happen upon a brochure that features pictures of Nantucket, chances are you are seeing images of this island depicted under a bright summer sun. This is a playground for the rich and famous in the summer months, there’s no doubt about that. Ferries, planes, yachts and more are full of people making their way to and from this popular destination from May through until September. But here’s the real secret to Nantucket happiness – visiting in October. 

Growing up on the East Coast, Nantucket was always a place that was on my radar. Friends from college often summered there in their lush seaside mansions (the average house price on the island is $2.3 million!!!!), as I continued driving north to spend time with my family in Maine. I was always curious about this little island. Such a small place held so many hearts and somehow I never managed to visit. That always bothered me. If you ever speak to anyone that’s either visited or has a residence on the island, you find yourself completely seduced by the way they describe life there. It’s like a fairytale. And it was very much a fairytale I’d always wanted to be a part of. 

Fast forward a few years (ok, maybe 16 since university), and I’m sitting at The White Elephant in Nantucket, enjoying a cup of coffee as I wait for my girlfriends to join me on a walk to explore the area, after a rather eventful trip onto the island the night before. It must be said that Nantucket can be the easiest island to get to, but it can also be the most difficult. Full disclosure – we were meant to take a flight onto the island from Boston, that was cancelled last minute because of fog. Hey, fog happens. So, we put peddle to the metal and drove down the coast to meet the last ferry of the night instead. Anyone will tell you that no matter how hard it is to get to Nantucket, it’s always worth it in the end. Getting off the ferry on the island, I knew it was worth it the moment my feet hit the hard pavement. Looking down just one street in the town I was already in love.

While the magic was already taking hold, so was jet lag. I crawled into my suite at The White Elephant and had never looked upon a bed with such thankful eyes. The sheets, that are made specially for The White Elephant in Italy, were like slipping into heaven. The pillows, with embroidered elephants, came complete with a box of chocolate covered cranberries, which were devoured instantly. Don’t tell my dentist, as I fell asleep straight after, which meant the brushing of teeth didn’t happen. Whoops! I awoke to a soft light peeking through the windows and a view of the water in front of me. I had somehow convinced the other ladies to meet at sunrise to walk out to the famed Brant Point Lighthouse. Just a five minute walk from The White Elephant, we had all agreed to get out there for a pink and orange filled sky, and decided we’d spend a few minutes there and then head back towards The White Elephant’s Brant Point Grille for an early breakfast. After all, we were still on UK time. Pancakes were eaten, coffee was practically on an arm drip and four dehydrated girls made their way through what must have been six litres of water. We were fuelling, caffeinating and hydrating for a day of exploring ahead. 

Nantucket in the summer can be a madhouse, or so I’ve heard. The population increases to 50,000 and queues for things like breakfast or ice cream become common place here. In October, you’re lucky to run into ten people in ten minutes as you walk from The White Elephant into town. There are no queues anywhere and a good percentage of the shops are still open and ready for business. The cobblestone streets here are yours for the taking. The promise of Nantucket red trousers lures you in and the idea of a milkshake at The Nantucket Pharmacy, with no wait, seems like a dream. The colours of the trees have all changed from bright green to shocking yellows and deep oranges and the air has a crispness to it that requires just one additional layer of clothing. Why are more people not here in October? This island is magical, right here and right now. 

For lunch, we were horrible and ate fudge from Aunt Leah’s. She’s a local legend and the more people you talk to the more you discover. Our boat captain had her as a teacher in grade school! This seems to be a pattern on the island. Everyone knows each other, well the year rounds residents do at least. Small town perfection is alive and well here in October. 

While I could have stayed out and about all day simply taking pictures and falling more and more in love with this island, I had an appointment at The White Elephant Spa. My massage therapist had me asleep in a matter of minutes. But, I had to laugh as she came in wearing duck boots and wore them throughout the treatment. Occasionally, I would wake up and look down to see her shoes below the bed. It was clear I could be nowhere else other than New England. 

For dinner, we returned to the Brant Point Grill and dove head first into a lobster feast, accompanied by truffle fries, oysters and more. It’s a true seafood extravaganza and the food is cooked and served to blissful perfection. 

I will say that it became clear very quickly why The White Elephant is one of Nantucket’s most recognised and highly regarded resorts. The service here is impeccable. Staff are enthusiastic about where they live and eager to help recommend or shoot down a location on the island for visiting. The rooms are big, delightfully decorated (they also have a Lilly Pulitzer suite) and full of everything one might need for an island visit. My suite even came complete with a washer and dryer! But for me, it was all about the bed. I know it may sound ridiculous but a bed can make or break any experience. The White Elephant’s bed, sheets and whole setup made my two nights there a breeze. If it weren’t for the incredible lure of the local charm around the island, I probably would have stayed in bed forever. 

Now, there is so much to see and do while in Nantucket, and I’ve included a little look herewith at all that we saw and did while staying at The White Elephant. We’ll start with a room tour, carry through at a look at the food we ate while in residence, and finish with a few choice shots of the town. I really can’t recommend October enough as a time to visit. And if you are visiting, make sure you are staying at The White Elephant….unless you have a friend that’s just bought one of the $42 million properties for sale near the hotel. Then, yes, maybe stay there. 

The White Elephant

Nantucket Island 


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