Best time to travel to Boston

Frozen Waves in Boston

This unusual phenomenon is a great reason to visit an island of Nantucket when temperature drops

Best time: January–February

Frozen Waves

These beautiful slow flowing waves can be seen on the shores of the Nantucket island in Massachusetts in the winter. The frozen waves are actually part-frozen as they still move, though hard and slowly.

Many photographers get obsessed with the phenomenon which is also often called "slurpee waves".

These ice crystals are called frazil. Interestingly, when that ice is formed, it can become a source of drinkable water. The salt that doesn't freeze is left behind. This natural phenomenon can occur when the weather meets certain conditions. These are the freezing air temperature, low water temperature, and motion in the water. The most suitable time comes during really cold days of January or February. However, keep in mind that ferry schedule is not so stable during this time because of weather, so it's better to opt for a plane to get to the island.

Practical info

When is the best time to see the frozen waves on Nantucket Island?

In order to see the frozen waves on Nantucket Island, it's advisable to aim for the freezing cold days of January or February during which the air temperature drops significantly, the water temperature drops to very low levels, and there is motion in the water. However, it's important to be aware of ferry schedules that can be affected by adverse weather conditions during the winter season. Hence, opting for a flight to reach the island is a better idea. Show more

Where exactly on the island can you see the frozen waves?

The frozen waves phenomenon can be viewed on the shores of Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. The precise location where the waves can be seen is not clear, but it's advisable to reach out to the locals or tourist information center for further advice on the best places to see this natural occurrence. When watching the waves, it's important to take precautions, wear non-slip footwear and wrap up warmly as the shores can be slippery around wintertime. Show more

What causes the frozen waves to form?

With the help of specific weather conditions, the frozen waves are formed due to the creation of ice crystals known as frazil. When water freezes, salt particles separate from the water that is freezing. What remains is a mass of frazil mats that can unite to create the natural phenomenon of frozen waves. Minimum environmental criteria, including freezing temperatures of the air and water and water movements, must be met for the process of frozen wave formation to occur. Show more

Can you drink the water made from the frazil ice?

Although the water made from the frazil ice is drinkable because the salt that didn't freeze remains in the water, there might be potential health hazards. To avoid such health hazards, residents suggest boiling or purifying the water to be consumed. While drinking the water, it is important to remember that not all such water is safe for consumption; some might have to be avoided altogether. Show more

Are there any travel restrictions during the winter months to Nantucket Island?

Travel to Nantucket Island during the winter season might be limited due to weather conditions. To bypass such limitations, it's better to opt for a flight than a ferry. It's important to check ferry company or airport schedules before planning a trip. During the offseason, some shops and restaurants may stay closed. It's also necessary to pack appropriate clothing to stay warm due to lower temperatures, which can sometimes drop below freezing. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin