Herman Melville – not particularly known for his brevity – captures the paradox of Nantucket in his opus, Moby Dick, quite succinctly. He describes this tiny wisp of an island as a mere elbow of sand and yet a real corner of the world. Worldly, yet secluded. Local, yet exclusive. Nearly 150 years later, Melvilles description is still spot on.

Melville stayed in an islanders private home not a hotel – because, well, there werent any. Today, there are hotels here and there, but nothing can compete with a luxury beach house rental for the ideal islander experience. Unlike Melville, youll probably want, oh say, running water. And a chefs kitchen (with a chef in it) and wifi so you can re-read Moby Dick on an aged cedar deck. By your own private pool. Overlooking the breaking Atlantic while sipping a vermouth cocktail. Forget the white whale; lobster bisque is on!

But for such a tiny place, Nantucket offers an enormous variety of vacation experiences. Neighborhoods dot the island, each one catering to a diverse set of interests. The good news is, whatever youre looking to do this summer, Nantucket has a niche for you. Heres a sampling of a few isle locations:

* MasterPeace: Brant Point

Youre in the Pierce Gallery. Someone hands you a Triple-Eight vodka martini with a single local cranberry garnish. Its cold as a Nantucket January, neat as a saltbox colonial. You stand in front of a Geetesh, wondering if it would work in your office or maybe youre just thinking about the connection between the universe and these colors. Your companions eyeing a Lu, its Vermeer-like light and ultra-realism clearer, more cutting and edgy, than Geeteshs dreamy melting colorscapes. You end up holding hands by a little Gibran bronze. It goes back to your home with you, sits on the table as you dress for a night of theatre at the Workshop for a staged reading or an improv. The concierge has a chef coming by at 8 to dress local steamers in wine and a little cream from dairies just south of town, for when you get back. You hook your music up in the Bang & Olufson wireless stereo, turn it up (youre not bothering the neighborswhat neighbors?), dance a little with a splash of Notch over a single cube. Outside your wall of windows the stars look huge and bright, so close you could swing on them, if you wanted.

* Yours, Mine, Ours: Lily Pond

Ava and Josh are chasing each other round and round the villa, screaming, their feet pounding the wood floors. Sometimes they tumble down, laughing hard; the sound like pouring out stones on something hollow. You watch them, not worried: this is your home for the week, the month. Let them play. Theres no one to bother. You sip your cranberry lemonade, one eye making sure no ones getting hurt, the other on the sea you can see from your windows. Rough in the sound even, too rough for the babies, but in half an hour youll walk down to the lighthouse, then to the Childrens Beach where the tide purrs in like the waves, soft and low enough for infants. Thatll wear them out, you think; just in time to get them to bed and go out for some Pocomo oysters or a Bartletts Farm salad at Oran Mor. You text the concierge: Sitter for two? 7pm? Thx. She writes: All fixed. Shall I let her in? The beach bag with your novel, the pages curled and sandy, is ready to go. Kids? Beach? And youre out the door.

* Estate Living: Polpis

Its the way youre used to living; the long driveway, the house at the end like something you can depend on. Here on the terrace, you look down to the bay where the skiff is and think, Maybe tomorrow a little fishing after tennis. The whiskey the concierge left is local, mellow. Its terroir is here, where youre sitting. Salt and cranberry; that indefinable taste of the sea which has iron in it and the light that is pure Nantucket, like some places youve been in Italy where the stones are millennia old. Its past 8 and the suns just lipping the horizon. The man brings you another drink and a box of Montecristo #2s then lights one for you. The smoke mellows the whiskey more, the taste shifting like the sky with the evening coming on, and you begin to wonder if theres a game somewhere to go to. Theres a phone at your elbow. The concierge will know.

* The Wild Side: Pocomo

Youre there for the birds. Honestly, though? Youre there for the Lapwings. Theyre on your life-list, after all. Rumor has it theres a pair on Nantucket since Hurricane Sandy blew them there. Right now, with your toast in your mouth and Zeisses up, youre looking out the breakfast room windows into the marshes. You see a Kingbird and a bunch of Towhees raking the grass. Up over the bay, theres a single Osprey fishing from the sky. Todays agenda: venture up the Head of the Harbor to the Wildlife Refuge. You can walk there from the estate almost, but its morning and a little chilly. You didnt think about a thermos of teathat was the conciergebut itll be useful, like the bike he arranged for you. Youll take the little roads, no traffic, just a mile or so north. You listen to the scree of a Coopers hawk somewhere in the high scrub. No, you think, today the water. You want a kayak. Catch a bunch of oyster-catchers, maybe watch the Osprey dive. Text the concierge: Kayak? He says, On top or inside? You: Top. Hour? Got it, and texts the address for pick up. Your Sibleys bird app is turned to Waterbirds of the Northeast. You thumb over to your life-list and see what you dont have while you finish that last bite of toast.

* The Best of Everything : Cliff Road

Escape. Disappear. Flee. Words that run like a news ticker endlessly through your stress-ridden mind. Air. Light. Liberation. Words that sink in slowly. Absorbed softly as sand muffling barefoot steps on the beach. Peace washes over you as days of water colored sunsets become the new normal. At least for this week. You take advantage of miles of bike paths and poolside yoga instruction to counteract a new penchant for your at-home chefs insane lobster rolls. The sea calls to you from your widows walk; a day made for sailing. A quick conversation with your concierge and its done. An afternoon on the water with catch-of-the day sushi, champagne and a horizon of blue. Tomorrow youll skip the bike and grab a board, take the kids and a picnic for a few more memories. Wipe outs or hanging ten, the secret loft back home awaits you for a restorative nap. Waking refreshed, you arent surprised the chef has cocktails and appetizers waiting. Sunset on the balcony as another Nantucket day ends.

If you’re waiting until the snow melts to book your summer in Nantucket, weve got one word for you: fogettaboutit. By the time spring has sprung, most of the rental properties on this exclusive corner of the Atlantic are already spoken for. Time & Place Luxury Vacation Homes is now offering exquisite rental properties in all the above Nantucket neighborhoods just not forever. Contact our travel experts today!

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