Visit This Island Off The Coast Of New England For Beautiful Beaches And Glorious Isolation

When you say, "I want to get away from it all," you may just mean your job and the regular stresses of daily life. However, when you really mean you want to get away from absolutely everything, there aren't a lot of spots that fit the bill. We have a great one for you, and it's right off the coast of Massachusetts, between Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound, northwest of popular summer destination Martha's Vineyard. Meet Cuttyhunk Island, the westernmost of the Elizabeth Islands. This island has the claim to fame of being the site of a three-week-long colony in 1602, 18 years before the Mayflower brought the pilgrims to Plymouth Rock, (which is now one of the biggest tourist traps in New England). 

This is a small island (1.5 miles long and 0.75 miles wide) with only 10 full-time residents (though about 400 live there through the summer). It is part of a town called Gosnold (named after Bartholomew Gosnold who landed in 1602). There are few cars on the island, and you'll mostly be getting around by foot, bike, or golf cart. With some quiet beaches, a few historic hikes, a couple of spots to grab food, two inns, and at least one Airbnb, this is the very definition of getting away. That said, there are some important things to know before you go. Here's all the information about what to see and do (and also not do) on Cuttyhunk Island. 

What to know before you go

For any sailers, you can moor your own boat at the marina in Cuttyhunk for under $50 a night, allowing you to easily visit the nearby island of Naushon. Many people elect to stay on their boats at night. You can book the Cuttyhunk Water Taxi, which is an 18-passenger vessel that takes an hour from New Bedford. It's pricey at $200 one way for a solo traveler, but the more people you have, the less it is per person. The Cuttyhunk Ferry takes up to 149 people to the island in about an hour, and this has a beer/wine bar, espresso and coffee bar, light snacks, and soft drinks and water. Adults are $42 one way or $62 same-day round-trip. Luggage is extra, with pricing depending on weight.

You can't buy liquor, and there is only a small food market, so bring what you're going to need. There are no ATMs on Cuttyhunk Island (with some reports that there is one at the corner store that is often broken), so definitely bring cash — especially given that most businesses don't accept credit cards. There are two inns available to stay at: Avalon has seven rooms, and you can cook your own meals in their kitchen. The Cuttyhunk Fishing Club has eight rooms and a breakfast service in July and August. No camping is permitted. The only restaurants are Isla Tacos (a food cart), Soprano's Pizza, a floating raw bar that will deliver to your boat, an ice cream stall, and a fish market that will boil your lobster. 

What to do on Cuttyhunk Island

The island has plenty of places to get some sun, but you can visit Barges Beach on the east side that has lots of space to find a spot all to yourself. You can walk to Barges Beach from the ferry and marina. You can also hit Church's Beach on the sandy part of the northern part of the island, which almost encircles what is known as Cuttyhunk Pond. (You can also visit several beaches on the nearby Naushon Island.) While you're there, keep an eye out for birds like the common grackle, double-crested cormorant, and even more unusual birds that migrate past here in the spring and fall. 

If World War II history is an area of interest, you can take a hike up to Lookout Hill. This place is the highest point on the island and was a lookout for the Navy during the war. You'll get an incredible view (the sunset is particularly notable), and there are picnic tables there if you bring food. The west side of the island is a nature preserve, and you can bike (bring your own because they don't rent them here) or hike as well. You can even picnic at some old WWII Coast Guard bunkers that are also on the western side. If you enjoy learning about America's past, don't miss Traveler Blog's list of the best U.S. cities for history buffs.