Great Point Lighthouse

Once you get outside the main town of Nantucket where the ferries dock, you may think the island is pretty isolated. If you want to take that a step further, Great Point Lighthouse is the perfect place to visit. Great Point is located on the island’s northernmost tip and it’s only accessible by 4×4 vehicle. Here’s how to visit Great Point Lighthouse on Nantucket.

What is Great Point and the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge?

Great Point is one of Nantucket’s three lighthouses, located on the northernmost point of the island. Originally built in 1784, it was destroyed and rebuilt twice with the most recent version erected in 1986. While the lighthouse itself is a cool site to visit, the beauty of Great Point is the natural surroundings. Great Point is located inside the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, a barrier beach with over 1,000 acres of protected land.

Map of Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge

What You’ll Need to Visit Great Point

To get to Great Point, you will drive several miles on sand. That means a 4×4 vehicle is an absolute must! You will need both a Nantucket Beach Permit and a Coskata-Coatue Oversand Vehicle (OSV) Permit. We rented a Jeep from Affordable Rentals which came with a beach permit. When picking up our rental, they instructed us how to buy an OSV permit online with our phones prior to arriving at the Coskata-Coatue gatehouse. The permit costs $50.

Jeep Rental Nantucket

Despite the name Affordable Rentals, Jeep rentals on the island are extremely pricy. I shopped around and this was the cheapest option for a one day rental. We paid about $425 though the price per day is lower for longer rentals.

Driving on Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge

Coskata-Coatue is open year-round from 9 am to 6 pm. Occasionally, there will be closures due to birds nesting for example. Check for closures before renting a car! Also, Coskata-Coatue has plenty of porta-potties throughout the property so don’t worry about having to stop for bathroom breaks.

Getting to Great Point

To get to Great Point, you’ll need to drive to the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge gatehouse. If you ordered your OSV permit online, the ranger will ask for your last name and then provide you with your permit.

Driving on Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge

Before driving out to Great Point, pull off to the side of the gatehouse and decrease the pressure in your tires to 15 lbs. Newer cars with tell you the tire pressure on the dashboard, but it’s a good idea to bring a tire pressure gauge too. This may be provided by your rental company and the gatehouse usually has one you can borrow. There’s a pump to reinflate your tires once you exit the refuge.

Great Point Lighthouse

What to Do in Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge

The highlight of Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge is definitely driving out to Great Point. This is an awesome spot for a day at the beach.

Great Point Lighthouse in fog

On the drive along the beach to Great Point, you’ll likely see seals swimming in the shallows. Other points of interest include Coskata Pond and the Head of the Harbor.

Seals in Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge
Seals in Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge

If you rent a vehicle, you’ll be advised not to drive to Coatue. This area is less trafficked, and it’s extremely likely you will get stuck in the sand.

Beach at Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge

Final Thoughts

Visiting Great Point Lighthouse and the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge is a highlight of any Nantucket itinerary. While renting a Jeep can be expensive, it’s worth driving out the Great Point at least once!

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