Spending your energy

A nonstop itinerary for the distractable

By Meredith Goldstein
Globe Correspondent / June 13, 2010

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I have a short attention span. Even as I write this, I’m thinking about other things, like when my gym closes, whom I might see this weekend, and what I have saved on my DVR.

And that’s why I’ve never been interested in visiting Nantucket, a place where tourists are supposed to slow down and take deep breaths while looking at pretty beaches and lighthouses. I don’t want to relax on a dune near Cisco Beach. I don’t want to stop and smell the flowers on Pleasant Street. Most of all, I don’t want to tour a museum devoted to baskets. (No offense to the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum. I’m sure it is fabulous.)

So that was my challenge: designing a trip to Nantucket for the person who can’t sit still. It wasn’t easy. Most of Nantucket’s attractions are designed for vacationers who are desperate to unwind. Even the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce had a tough time helping me. When I asked staffers about places someone with a short attention span should visit, their recommendations included walking tours and collecting shells.

The thought of collecting shells made me groan. But their suggestion to go surfing was more on target. They told me to look into Nantucket sUrfari, which is run by Nicole del Rosario and her husband, Christian.

After hearing about my lack of patience, Nicole suggested I check out their most popular class, stand-up paddling. “All the stars are doing it,’’ she told me, as I watched Christian instruct three young women in wetsuits as they paddled along the shoreline, exploring creeks and coves. I could hear their giggles as one of them tipped over and the others hunched toward their boards trying to fight the wind.

After the paddling, Nicole drove me past the Nantucket Atheneum, which she said was the best place for someone (like me) who needs a good wireless connection even on vacation. The free Internet is available outside the building 24 hours a day. Then she brought me to the main retail district. The easily bored can skip the quiet galleries on the main drag and stop by Jack Wills, a retail shop with the look of trendy London. The preppy floral dresses and designer denim were not cheap, but the store was lively with a crowd that reminded me of the cast of “The O.C.’’ Very good for the short-at tention-span folks.

By noon, I was hungry, and, not surprisingly, had no interest in the seafood restaurants where I could see couples lounging with drinks and leisurely snacking on shellfish. A better option was Corazon del Mar , a restaurant on South Water Street with bright colors and upbeat music. Once the sun sets, Corazon offers a grown-up night life scene where partiers who aren’t in the mood for the bar at the island’s institution, the Chicken Box, can play at a tequila bar and order ceviche. Even at lunch on a sunny Saturday, Corazon was stimulating, thanks to cups of fruit-stuffed sangria and martini glasses full of tuna, squid, and rock shrimp-packed ceviche in sauce so addictive the owners call it crack. “They call it crack because people treat it like crack,’’ chef Seth Raynor boasted.

After lunch, it was on to the busy Cisco Brewery , where tourists can taste Cisco’s Triple Eight Vodka, beers such as Whale’s Tale Pale Ale, and a fairly impressive selection of local wine. The brewery was so busy I found myself hiding in the least popular tasting area, the wine booth. A bearded and all-too-relaxed employee happily poured me sweet whites, as many tastes as I wanted for $8. “At first I was sort of depressed,’’ he said, of being stationed in the quiet wine area while most of the action took place near the beer, “but then I was psyched.’’ I agreed.

After the brewery, I met up with Rachael Perkins, who, with the help of her family, runs whale watching and ice cream tours. For the record, an ice cream tour is basically a cruise with ice cream on board. Perkins said she was sensitive to people like me who need more than just pretty scenery. Her company, Shearwater Excursions , just started a morning coffee cruise for visitors who crave something to do when they wake up. She plans to pick up the people who wander Straight Wharf in the morning.

“They’re walking around with nothing to do, strolling. We figured we’d give them something to do.’’ Sounded good to me.

Perkins said there are more businesses offering busy activities on the island, partly because of people like me, but also because there are more people who live here year-round. They are desperate for new activities to keep them busy and also want new ways to make money.

“The population is growing,’’ Perkins said. “There are only so many banking jobs. There are a lot of new businesses.’’

My last stop on the island was at Provisions , a Harbor Square sandwich shop where you can get a good meal — sesame tofu, rare roast beef — without having to sit down. Service is fast, perfect for someone who intended to eat on the run to the fast ferry home.

I was so tired and overstimulated when I finally boarded the boat, I found myself in the mood to relax.

Meredith Goldstein can be reached at

If You Go

Nantucket sUrfari


Classes, packages $18-$189.


3 Harbor Square


Sandwiches, salads, $5-$10.
Shearwater Excursions


Morning cruise $25 per person, $5 for children 2 and under; other cruises $70-$148.

Jack Wills

11 South Water St.


Nantucket Atheneum

1 India St.


Cisco Brewery

5 Bartlett Farm Road


Tours and beer, wine, and vodka tastings.

Corizon del Mar

21 South Water St.


Latin cuisine, entrees $12-$38.