Martha's Vineyard is an island 8 miles off the Cape Cod peninsula in Massachusetts. Once a whaling center, it has become a vacation hotspot and a favorite summertime haven of many celebrities. Due to this, it has picked up the nickname "Hollywood East". It is the third largest on the eastern seaboard. It is believed to have been the inspiration of Amity Island, from the movie Jaws.
Martha's Vineyard is made up of six towns, each with a selection of restaurants and accommodations.
- 1 Aquinnah — formerly known as Gay Head
- 2 Chilmark — including the fishing village of Menemsha
- 3 Edgartown — which includes Chappaquiddick Island
- 4 Oak Bluffs — often mistakenly referred to as Oaks Bluff
- 5 Tisbury — including the main village of Vineyard Haven in the town center
- 6 West Tisbury — the longstanding agricultural area of the island
Residents have come to say "up island" to mean western areas of the island -- Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury. Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Tisbury are "down island." These terms refer not to north or south, but to longitude. (From the island's whaling past....)
Celebrities have been coming to Martha's Vineyard for decades. Locals have gotten used to them and scarcely seem to notice any more. It's considered impolite to stare.
South-facing beaches have the most surf. Uncle Seth's Pond on Lambert's Cove Road is the only freshwater beach and has only very limited parking.
Vineyard Haven, also called Tisbury, is the main port of entry for the Steamship Authority Ferries.
- Steamship Authority Ferries, 65 South St, ☏ . Hyannis. From Woods Hole (Falmouth) and Vineyard Haven (year round) or Oak Bluffs (mid-May to mid-Oct). The only line that carries autos. Make reservations well in advance if you're taking your car.
- Martha's Vineyard Fast Ferry, 1347 Roger Williams Way, ☏ , email@example.com. Quonset Point, North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Between North Kingstown (at Quonset Point), Rhode Island and Oak Bluffs.
- Island Queen, ☏ . Falmouth harbor from Oak Bluffs.
- [formerly dead link] New England Fast Ferry, 49 State Pier, New Bedford, MA, ☏ . To/from New Bedford, Massachusetts. One hour.
- Hy-line Cruises, 49 State Pier, New Bedford, MA, ☏ . From Hyannis and Oak Bluffs.
- 1 Martha's Vineyard Airport (MVY IATA), Airport Rd (off West Tisbury Rd), ☏ .
- Cape Air, ☏ . Regional airline serving Hyannis, Provincetown, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket with service also to the off cape cities of Boston, Providence (seasonal), and New Bedford.
- American Airlines, Service from Washington (DCA).
- JetBlue, ☏ offers seasonal service from JFK and BOS on its 100-seat Embraer E190 Jet aircraft.
- Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. 11 A Street, Airport Business Park, Edgartown. Buses run all over the island. $1 each way per town you go through or buy passes. 1 day $10, 3 day $15, 7 day $25, 31 day $40.
- Adamcab, ☏ , ☏ .
- All Island Taxi, ☏ , ☏ .
- Atlantic Cab, ☏ , ☏ .
- Bluefish Taxi, ☏ .
- Jon's Taxi, ☏ , ☏ .
- Mario's Taxi, ☏ , ☏ , ☏ .
- Martha's Vineyard Taxi Company, ☏ , ☏ .
- Stagecoach Taxi, ☏ , ☏ .
- Tisbury Taxi, ☏ , ☏ .
- Your Taxi, ☏ , ☏ .
- Admiral Taxi, ☏ .
By bicycle or moped
Most of the vineyard's roads are accompanied by a bike path. Bike and moped rentals are available in several towns.
- A-A Island Auto Rental, ☏ , ☏ , email@example.com. Locations in Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown
- Menemsha Bike Ferry: ☏ : a small ferry carries bicycles and pedestrians from North Road on the northeastern side of Menemsha Harbor to West Basin Road on the southwestern side of the harbor.
- The Chappy Ferry: ☏ : carries pedestrians, cyclists, and up to three cars between Edgartown and Chappaquiddick.
The Gay Head cliffs at Aquinnah are a "must see". Moshup Beach below the cliffs was also named as at top ten "walking beach" by the Travel Channel in 2003, beating out beaches in Hermosa Beach, California, and Maui. Menemsha is one of the few places on the east coast where you can see the sunset over the water.
The Martha's Vineyard Museum in Edgartown has excellent exhibits including the Thomas Cooke house, the Francis Foster Museum, the Captain Francis Pease House and Carriage Shed with coverage of whaling and Wampanoag history as well.
There are five lighthouses around the island: Cape Poge Lighthouse at the northern tip of Chappaquiddick near Edgartown, Edgartown Lighthouse in the town, Gay Head Lighthouse at thecwest end of the island near Aquinnah, East Chop Lighthouse in Oak Bluffs, and West Chop Lighthouse in Vineyard Haven (Tisbury).
The Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce[dead link] lists 19 beaches. They include:
- South Beach, in the Katama section of Edgartown, is a large public beach with good surf. Free parking, a few miles bike ride from downtown Edgartown, or via the MV bus system.
- State Beach, between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, on Oak Bluffs Edgartown Rd, is a large public beach with practically no waves. A good beach for young children. Free parking available along Oak Bluffs Edgartown Rd.
- Aquinnah Beach (Moshup Beach), at the far western end of the island, is a public beach with pay parking available. A small walk is required from the pay lots to the beach. This beach is known for the picturesque clay cliffs that rise up from the edge of the beach. Nudity has at times been common and tolerated on the northern end of the beach.
- Lucy Vincent Beach, off South Rd in Chilmark (listed as Lucy Vincent Rd on some maps, it is a dirt road just before the big bend at Windy Gates Rd), is a private beach for town residents[dead link] during the summer. Nudity is allowed in the area that is more than 1,500 feet from the entrance. It is open to the public during the off-season, October 1 through May 31. A great beach.
- Charter fishing
- Horseback riding in West Tisbury.
- Art galleries: The island also offers several first class art galleries for the art lovers making a visit. Several of the best are:
- Island Art Gallery ☏ (Tisbury/Vineyard Haven)
- All Things Millie Briggs: ☏ (Tisbury/Vineyard Haven)
- Chilmark Gallery: ☏ (Chilmark)
- Edgartown Scrimshaw Gallery: ☏ (Edgartown)
- Golf: For those who like to add a challenge to their walks, the island offers several public golf courses.
- Farm Neck Golf Course: ☏ (Oak Bluffs)
- Island Cove Mini Golf: ☏ (Tisbury/Vineyard Haven)
- Mink Meadows Golf Course: ☏ (Tisbury/Vineyard Haven)
- Bicycling. As small as people think the Vineyard is, it covers 100 square miles and offers a great cycling opportunity to visitors. Most of the islands roads are accompanied by a bike path. With most of the island being relatively flat, this is a great opportunity for cyclists of all ages and levels to see the island in a different way and help reduce traffic congestion while doing so. The terrain up island tends to be a bit more hilly and windy. During tourist season the roads do get congested and care should be taken to keep an eye on street traffic and on pedestrians. Also, be sure to obey all traffic laws as they also apply to cyclists and be aware that all cyclists under 16 must wear a helmet.
- Hiking: Several local groups have helped preserve many acres of land on the island, including miles of shoreline, for public use. This makes the Vineyard a great place to see on foot. Whether hiking the cliffs of Aquinnah or walking down to one of the great fishing spots available there is a hike to suit all visitors to the island.
- Waskosim's Rock Reservation, Chilmark. Stand atop one of the highest peaks on the Island, travel alongside a pretty brook and trek across foothills and valleys on this 184-acre preserve.
- Cedar Creek Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, West Tisbury. Miles of trails lead you over hills, alongside brooks and bogs and to a wonderful rocky beach on Vineyard Sound overlooking the Elizabeth Islands.
- Aquinnah Cliffs and Beach. A spectacular view awaits at the top of these 150-foot cliffs, while miles of shoreline below invite walkers.
- Public programs available all month long at the Massachusetts’ Audubon Center at Felix Neck.
- Martha's Vineyard Sharks Baseball, Vineyard Baseball Park.
- Annual Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby (Sep 15 - Oct 15)
- Aquinnah Music Festival
- Chilmark Road Race (August)
- 4th of July parade and fireworks
- 12 Meter Boat Race at the Edgartown Yacht Club (featuring many winning America's Cup boats)
- Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby (early Fall)
- Midsummer Faerie Festival
- Oak Bluffs Harbor Festival [dead link]
- Summer Solstice Celebration [dead link]
- Fireworks at Ocean Park by the Sea [dead link]
- Built on Stilts dance festival
- West Tisbury Farmers Market[dead link]
The island supports a full range of restaurants from casual to fine dining.
There are two towns on the Island that permit the selling of alcohol: Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. A third town, Vineyard Haven, permits the serving of beer and wine (but no hard liquor) at restaurants, and only with meals. The remaining three towns -- West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah -- have a "BYO" policy at most restaurants, enabling diners to bring their own alcoholic beverages.
The island's only campground is in Tisbury.
The island of Martha's Vineyard features a surprising number of options for lodging. Victorian inns, sizable resorts, and private cottages are all available, residing mostly in Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven (Tisbury).
- The island's newspaper since 1847 has been The Vineyard Gazette, 34 South Summer St., Edgartown.
- A less stylized, more newsy island newspaper is the 'Martha's Vineyard Times.
- Martha's Vineyard is home to one of the oldest "freeform" independent radio stations and early adopters of internet radio, WMVY at 88.7 FM and at mvyradio.com.
- Martha's Vineyard has a unique low-power FM community radio station, WVVY at 93.7 FM. Its signal can also be heard clearly in Woods Hole and parts of Falmouth on the cape. Highly varied, eclectic music and news/affairs programming 7/24.
- There is very little crime anywhere on Martha's Vineyard.
- Beware of poison ivy, a low-growing vine (which may climb) with three shiny leaves. It can cause skin inflammation at any time.
- Ticks can be a problem and may carry Lyme Disease. Also, ticks in Aquinnah, particularly at Moshup Beach, may carry Tularemia. Martha's Vineyard is the only place in the continental US where Tularemia has been known to be carried and transmitted by tick bite.
- When you are at the beach, swimmers should be aware of jellyfish that float north in the summer. Jellyfish are common at the State Beach, on the Edgartown-Oak Bluffs connector.