Cisco Beach

Cisco Beach

Current Driving Status: Closed to oversand vehicle traffic.

Emergency Beach Access Number: 7A

Current Beach Conditions: To be updated.two signs beach

Rules & Regulations 

  • Fishing is permitted with a state license, which can be purchased here
  • Dogs are allowed, providing they are leashed and licensed. Dogs and owners are not allowed in any dune vegetation, marsh grass, protected wildlife and other fenced areas at any time.
  • Bonfires, campfires, and fireworks are not permitted.
  • No kites (of any kind) or drones within 200 meters of any fenced shorebird habitat.
  • Alcohol is not permitted on public property.
  • Glass is not permitted on public beaches.
  • Smoking is not permitted on public property.
  • Please do not dig holes deeper than the waist. Fill in any holes before you leave the beach.
  • Beachgoers must stay at least 150 feet away from any marine mammal.

Basic Information

Cisco beach is located along the south shore several miles out of town. It is characterized by a wide white beach and heavy surf popular with surfers. There is a sizeable dirt parking lot however the beach can be very busy during the summer months and parking may be limited. There is a steep dropoff from the parking area to the beach, and a seasonal aluminum ramp provides access to the beach. There are no restrooms available at Cisco beach. There may be seasonal mobile concessions stands. Cisco is located in a beautiful area of the island and there is a well-paved bike path leading straight to the parking lot, so visiting this beach while out biking is a good idea. There are seasonal lifeguards stationed at Cisco beach, however the strong surf and bustle of sports activities mean this beach is a little less popular with families with young children. 

Directions and Access Information

Heading from the rotary or town, make your way via Sparks Ave or Prospect St to the intersection by the high school of Atlantic Ave, Sparks Ave, and Prospect St. Turn left onto Prospect St and follow it until you reach the intersection of Prospect St, Hummock Pond Rd, Madaket Rd, and Milk St. Turn left onto Hummock Pond Rd and follow it approximately 3 miles. Shortly before the road ends, there is a left-hand turn onto a dirt road. Take this turn and follow it to the end to reach the unpaved parking lot of Cisco Beach. 

Beach Driving Information

Cisco beach is closed to beach driving year-round. There is no vehicle access point at Cisco or at any point along the south shore within the general vicinity of Cisco beach. Please respect private property and the rights of private property owners. 

Swimming and Recreation

Cisco is the ideal spot for both swimmers, surfers, fishermen, and people who just like to lay out in the sun. It does experience heavy crowds and space can be limited on a nice day. There are lifeguards on this beach during the summer, however no restrooms are available. There may be seasonal concessions stands on busy days at the beach. 

The beach conditions at Cisco are usually very favorable – there is rolling surf with a shallow sandbar at low tide, which makes it ideal for surfers. Since the water is shared by surfers and swimmers alike, be courteous and vigilant when sharing space with surfers. Intensity of the surf can vary depending on weather conditions and there may be dangerous conditions such as rip tides and currents. Please be aware of up-to-date beach conditions before entering the water. There may also be stinging jellyfish throughout the season. All are harmless, with exception of the Portugese Man O’ War which rarely washes up on the south shore. Cisco beach is also a popular fishing location, especially at dawn and dusk. The area of deep water between the shore and the sandbar is a favorite habitat of Striped Bass. Grilling on the beach is allowed, preferably with a charcoal or propane grill (please do not leave charcoal briquettes on the beach). Small, enclosed cooking fires located away from any flammable material or dune vegetation are allowed without a permit – please click here for further regulations on fires. Keep this beautiful beach clean - all trash and items are “carry in, carry out”, there are no trash receptacles on the beach so please bring any trash you create with you when you leave.

Shellfishing and Water Quality

To ensure the safety of Nantucket’s beaches during the busy summer season, the Town of Nantucket Department of Health and Human Services conducts weekly sea water testing. Done in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the samples are collected weekly for analysis at the Barnstable County biolab, and coliform bacteria levels monitored to ensure safe swimming conditions. Should levels exceed safe margins for two consecutive weeks, the beach will be closed to swimming and monitored until it’s safe to return. 

The recreational scallop season runs from October 1 – March 31 and is open to all who carry a recreational shellfish permit from the Town of Nantucket. Permits are $35 for residents and $125 for non-residents, and are available at the Public Safety Facility at 4 Fairgrounds Road. Scallops taken must have a legal raised growth ring a minimum of 10mm from the hinge or are larger than 2.5 inches (63.5 mm) from hinge to shell. Quahogs and oysters can be harvested year-round under a recreational shellfish permit. Soft-shell and razor clam shellfishing is prohibited from June 15th – September 15th. A comprehensive list of Town of Nantucket Shellfishing Policy and Regulations, including daily harvest limits and shellfish sizes, can be found here. A shellfish classification area map for the Cisco shore is available here. For questions about any shellfishing closures, please contact the Department of Marine Fisheries directly.


Nantucket’s wildlife take full advantage of this natural beach, especially during the winter months. Cisco is a great place to walk the dogs, when the beach is cold and quiet. Small songbirds like the Snow Bunting gather here in small flocks to forage on the beach, alongside Sanderlings and other Sandpipers. Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls loaf on the shore, and deer browse through the tall dunes and often come on the beach. Throughout the year the Northern Harrier – also known as “Marsh hawk”, “Hen harrier”, or even as “Grey ghost” can be spotted cruising low over the dune in search of rodents or birds to prey upon. Spring and summer bring a variety of tern species, most notably the endangered Least and Common tern. The fall season brings an influx of migratory bird species like the Peregrine Falcon and its smaller relatives, the Merlin and American Kestrel. For a complete list of the bird life that can be found on Nantucket, click here. Seals can occasionally be spotted swimming offshore, but usually prefer other sites on the island like Great Point to haul out on the beach.

Important Phone Numbers & Web Addresses

  • Nantucket Police & Fire Department (emergency) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 911
  • Nantucket Police Department (non emergency) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(508) 228–1212
  • Nantucket Fire Department (non emergency) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(508) 228–2324
  • Beach Hotline/ Marine Dept . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(508) 228–7261
  • Natural Resources Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(508) 228–7230
  • Coast Guard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(508) 228–0388
  • Environmental Police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(800) 632–8075
  • Marine Mammal Stranding Team (via Police) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(508) 228–1212