So observed Holiday magazine, and this enthusiasm for Nantucket's principal oceanside community is shared by a goodly number of knowledgeable travelers and island residents who think first and fondest of 'Sconset when they think of Nantucket Island. Understandably so, for 'Sconset epitomizes the nostalgic and natural beguilements that have made Nantucket as a whole an internationally treasured island.
Siasconset, as 'Sconset is properly but rarely called, derives its name from an Indian word meaning "near the great whale bone." The village was first settled three centuries ago as a whaling outpost, centered about a lookout tower for spotting the giant sea mammals as they swam off 'Sconset's shores. Many of 'Sconset's cottages date from these early origins, from rough-hewed 17th and 18th century fishermen's shanties. They have been altered and added on to over the centuries, of course, but in scale and style they remain living, still occupied remnants not only of early America but of a structural approach that is traced back to medieval Wales.
As such, 'Sconset's antique cottages are prized and studied for their architectural and historical uniqueness. To untutored eyes, they are simply charming evocations of distant, less troubled times.
Not only does 'Sconset today carry physical embodiments of the past in its architecture, the village also maintains in its very air a rare serenity, an otherworldliness, that was noted long ago. "I had never before seen a spot better calculated to cherish contemplative ideas," an 18th century visitor wrote, "perfectly unconnected with the great world, and far removed from its perturbations." It's a description that many who know 'Sconset would fondly apply nowadays.
Early in this century, the village's apartness attracted a sizable actors' colony: 'Sconset hosted many of the top stars of the American theatre during Broadway's deserted pre-air-conditioned summers.
Today, the village is made up almost exclusively of private homes (the Wade Cottages are among the few public guest accommodations in 'Sconset), which are clustered for the most part on the bluff that runs along the easternmost shore of the island. 'Sconset is eight miles from the town of Nantucket, an easy reach by bus, car or bicycle (there are bike paths between the two communities), yet far enough to insulate 'Sconset from the crowds who now flock to Nantucket during the summer. It remains far removed from even these mild perturbations.
The village has its own basic shops for food, periodicals, liquor, etc.; its own post office and church; three excellent restaurants including what many regard as the island's finest; tennis courts; three golf courses and, of course, endless untrampled beaches and dunes and, ever-present, the sight and sound and the air of the sea.
In June, September, and even into October, 'Sconset is among the most sought after destinations for weddings. The Wade Cottages can be rented as a package for weddings, reunions, retreats, and other events.
For complete information on all of Nantucket's riches please check out www.nantucket.net. Here you will find among other things, a complete set of links related to travel to and from the island and bike and car rentals while you're here. To go directly to nantucket.net's transportation links, check out www.nantucket.net/trans