Martha’s Vineyard, just south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, conjures up images of white sandy beaches, boats bobbing in the ocean and the summer playground of the elite.
Those who live “up-island” and “down-island” (the way locals refer to each end of Martha’s Vineyard) say there’s plenty to do for everyone — even if you don’t possess a black AMEX card.
Make time during your visit to appreciate the beauty and history of what Martha’s Vineyard has to offer. The Vineyard, at only 20 miles long and between 2 miles and 10 miles wide, can easily be seen during a weekend.
Martha Vineyard’s 19 beaches are the biggest draw for visitors; however, not all beaches are open to the public. A permit may be required for both residents and vacationers.
For a unique water activity, try a glass-bottom kayak glow tour with Island Spirit Kayak. Tours begin at sunset to see all that the Atlantic Ocean has to offer at night. Be sure to look out for sharks. Speaking of sharks, in 1974, a young Steven Spielberg filmed his blockbuster film “Jaws” on the island at Chilmark, Menemsha. You can join other tourists who visit the beach and quote, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
One of the island’s biggest draws is Aquinnah Cliffs, a national landmark. Over the years, the clay cliffs have given a glimpse of the island’s past with the discovery of fossils of whales, wild horses, and even camels. The cliffs are part of the Wampanoag reservation with the Native American tribe.
While at Aquinnah, look for the Gay Head Lighthouse. Built in 1856, it’s the oldest lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard. Because of erosion, a campaign is underway to move the lighthouse back from the shoreline.
History lovers should stop in at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, just a 10-minute walk from Vineyard Haven. The museum has a collection of artwork and historical objects. One exhibition not to miss is that of the man who was called “The Dean of Martha’s Island.” An exhibition, “Stan Murphy at 100,” showcases his 50-year career on what would have been his 100th birthday. It runs through Aug. 21.
Of course, seafood should be at the center of at least one of your island meals. The Seafood Shanty in Edgartown is a place that gives beachy vibes and serves a massive lobster roll. Sip a drink and enjoy a breeze on the large ocean-facing deck.
Before you leave, stop at Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs to feel like a kid again. The Flying Horses Carousel is America’s oldest platform carousel originally built at Coney Island in 1876. In 1884, the carousel, which has hand-carved wooden horses, was moved to Oak Bluffs and has stood there ever since.
With a plethora of activities and experiences, a visit to Martha’s Vineyard is sure to make you feel rich with memories.
by Crystal Schelle