National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge located at the tip of Great Point on Nantucket Island, is a remarkable world-renowned spot for nature photography, birding, and surf fishing. Bounded by Nantucket Sound to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south, Nantucket Island is heavily influenced by maritime processes. The location of the refuge on Great Point creates ever-changing coastlines and habitats through erosion and deposition of sand. The incredible five-mile drive over the sand to the refuge gives visitors an awesome experience to take in Nantucket’s beauty. Over-sand vehicle permits must be purchased through The Trustees of Reservations. Purchase Over-sand vehicle permit here.
The 24-acre refuge is on the tip of Great Point, the most northern part of Nantucket Island, on Coskata-Coatue Peninsula. surrounded by dunes and the Atlantic Ocean, gives visitors specular views to enjoy the sand, ocean, and wildlife. Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge has five of six wildlife-dependent recreational uses of the Refuge System: wildlife observation, photography, fishing, environmental education, and interpretation. Our partners, the Trustees of Reservations host seasonal environmental education and interpretive programs.
There are no formal named trails on the refuge; the barrier beach gives visitors a chance to experience the sea meeting the sand. However, it's important to plan, as during the shorebird nesting seasons access to the refuge may be limited and restricted. This includes over-sand vehicle access across The Trustees of Reservation property, which visitors need to cross in order to get to the refuge. No pets are allowed on Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge at ANY TIME except service animals.
When visiting any nature area, it’s important to remember YOU are the visitor to many types of animal’s home and to visit the area with the goal of having a minimal impact when exploring the location. For your safety, always stay on areas open for visitors, carry water, bug spray, and sunscreen; always let someone know where you are going if you’re visiting alone, have your cell phone fully charged. The weather can change quickly; it’s advised to check the forecast and have proper apparel for sudden adverse weather.
Other Facilities in the Complex
Situated along the Atlantic Flyway in Massachusetts, the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex is comprised of eight ecologically diverse refuges. The eight individual refuges include inland and coastal wetlands, forests, grasslands, and barrier beaches that provide important habitat for migratory birds, mammals, plants, reptiles and amphibians.
Complex headquarters is located at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, Massachusetts, 01776. Phone: (978) 443-4661, Fax: (978) 443-2898
Rules and Policies
When visiting the refuge you are entering wildlife’s home. So, keep in mind and obey all rules and regulations at the refuge to respect wildlife and their habitats, such as visiting during posted hours, leaving no trace behind, and not bringing pets.
The refuge is located at the northern tip of Great Point on Nantucket. The entrance to the Coskata-Coatue Refuge is at the end of Wauwinet Rd; all visitors coming by land access need to enter through the gatehouse.