I wake up to the smell of fresh coffee brewing in the kitchen at the Sherburne Inn (10 Gay St.; 508/228-4425; www.sherburneinn.com). My room ($105) at the bed-and-breakfast is simple, breezy, and right in the center of town. Though it’s only April (I’ve timed my trip to take advantage of off-peak rates), the late-spring weather is already warm. So I settle into the inn’s porch and enjoy the complimentary spread of walnut breads and French roast.
Taxis on the island are expensive, but Young’s Bicycle Shop (6 Broad St.; 508/228-1151) will rent you a sporty Trek Hybrid ($30 per day), complete with Nantucket basket. At the store, a friendly local tells me that Great Point beach, near the Wauwinet inn, has miles of secluded shoreline and sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean. I pocket a free island map at the counter and point my wheels east.
It’s becoming clear why this beach is so secluded: it’s nine miles from downtown. I make it there, huffing and puffing, and find the dunes blissfully untouched. After dipping my toes in the surf and collecting a few seashells (nature’s freebies), I plunk down in the hull of a beached dory for a quick nap in the sun.
The $380-a-night rooms at the exclusive, white-fenced Wauwinet (120 Wauwinet Rd.; 800/426-8718) may not be in my budget, but cocktails at the alfresco bar (which welcomes non-guests) are certainly within my reach. I splurge on a mid-morning mimosa ($12) and inhale the salty sea breezes.
Back in town, I meet my friend Alexandra for brunch at Black-Eyed Susan’s (10 India St.; 508/325-0308), a tiny café known for comfort food with a twist (French toast dipped in Jack Daniel’s and topped with pecans). But it seems that everyone else is meeting a friend here, too: the line stretches for two blocks. ("Come before ten a.m.," the owner says with a shrug.) Instead of waiting, we walk a few blocks to the Even Keel Café (40 Main St.; 508/228-1979), where brunch ($9.50)—rum-battered French toast and a bottomless cup of hazelnut coffee—is just as delicious, and the lines (and prices) more reasonable.