Several lovely, paved bike paths radiate from the center of town to outlying beaches. The bike paths run about 6 1/4 miles west to Madaket, 3 1/2 miles south to Surfside, and 8 1/4 miles east to Siasconset. To avoid backtracking from Siasconset, continue north through the charming village and return on the Polpis Road bike path. Strong riders could do a whole circuit of the island in a day. Picnic benches and water fountains stand at strategic points along all the paths.
For a free map of the island's bike paths (it also lists Nantucket's bicycle rules), stop by Young's Bicycle Shop, at Steamboat Wharf (tel. 508/228-1151; www.youngsbicycleshop.com). It's definitely the best place for bike rentals, from basic three-speeds to high-tech suspension models. In operation since 1931 -- check out the vintage vehicles on display -- they also deliver to your door.
For shellfishing you'll need a permit from the marine coastal resources office at 34 Washington St. (tel. 508/228-7261), which costs $25 for nonresidents for the season. You'll see surf-casters all over the island ($10 permit required). Deep-sea charters heading out of Straight Wharf include Capt. Bob DeCosta's The Albacore (tel. 508/228-5074; www.albacorecharters.com), Capt. Josh Eldridge's Monomoy (tel. 508/228-6867; www.monomoychartersnantucket.com), and Capt. David Martin's Absolute (tel. 508/325-4000; www.absolutesportfishing.com). On the Absolute, a 5-hour bass-fishing trip for up to six people costs $1,100; for 2 1/2 hours, it is $550.
Nantucket Health Club, at 10 Young's Way (tel. 508/228-4750; www.nantuckethealthclub.com), offers all the usual equipment and classes. Nonmembers pay $25 a day.
Two pretty courses are open to the public: the 18-hole Miacomet Golf Course, 12 W. Miacomet Rd. (tel. 508/325-0333; www.miacometgolf.com), and the 9-hole Siasconset Golf Club, off Milestone Road (tel. 508/257-6596). You'll pay $125 for 18 holes at Miacomet. At Siasconset, playing 9 holes costs $35.
Through preservationist foresight, about one-third of Nantucket's 42 square miles are protected from development. Contact the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, at 118 Cliff Rd. (tel. 508/228-2884; www.nantucketconservation.com), for a map of its holdings ($4), which include the 205-acre Windswept Cranberry Bog (off Polpis Rd.), where bogs are interspersed amid hardwood forests; and a portion of the 1,100-acre Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, comprising the barrier beaches beyond Wauwinet. The Maria Mitchell Association sponsors guided birding and wildflower walks in season.
The town courts are located next to Jetties Beach, a short walk west of town; call the Nantucket Parks and Recreation Commission (tel. 508/325-5334) for information. The town courts cost $20 an hour for singles and $25 an hour for doubles. Though it's not generally open to the public, the grand, turn-of-the-19th-century Siasconset Casino, New Street, Siasconset (tel. 508/257-6585; www.siasconsetcasino.com), occasionally has courts available for rent for nonmembers from 1 to 3pm for $40 an hour.
Jetties Sailing Center manages the concession at Jetties Beach (tel. 508/228-5358), which offers lessons and rents out kayaks, sailboards, sailboats, and more. Rental rates for single kayaks are $20 to $25 per hour; sailboards $20 to $25 per hour; and Sunfish $35 per hour. Sea Nantucket, on tiny Francis Street Beach, off Washington Street (tel. 508/228-7499), also rents stand-up paddleboards and kayaks; it's a quick sprint across the harbor to beautiful Coatue. Single kayaks rent for $40, and tandems for $70, for 4 1/2 hours. Nantucket Island Community Sailing (tel. 508/228-6600; www.nantucketcommunitysailing.org) gives relatively low-cost private and group lessons from the Jetties pier for adults (16 and up) and children; a seasonal adult membership covering open-sail privileges costs $250 for 4 weeks. One 2-hour private lesson costs $125.
Gear for scuba-diving, fishing, and snorkeling is readily available at the souvenir shop Sunken Ship, on South Water and Broad streets, near Steamboat Wharf (tel. 508/228-9226; www.sunkenship.com). Snorkeling gear costs $20 per day, and scuba-diving gear costs $50 per day. A 2-week scuba-diving course is $550.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.