Floating just off the coast of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard is an island accessible by sea or air. Skip the flight and catch a ferry, the boat, if you are a local. On the water, you will hear the boat horns, breath in the salty air, feel the ocean breeze on your face, and enjoy a classic New England seascape. It’s an enchanting sensory experience to get you pumped about arriving on this famed summer island.
Most of my college summers, I lived on Martha’s Vineyard. After spending a full 12 months there, I was even called a year-roundah! Some of my favorite things-to-do is still some of the best experiences you should have while on the Vineyard.
Venture to Gay Head Cliffs
In the town of Aquinnah you’ll find Gay Head Cliffs, a natural wonder that still brings me great joy! I will never tire of its breathtaking beauty. Designated a National Natural Landmark in 1965, I can assure you when I arrive back on island, Gay Head Cliffs is always number one on my agenda.
Drive up-island to view the clay cliffs from either an overlook or a beautiful walk on the beach. For the overlook experience, there is free public parking with a 30-minute limit, which is enforced during summertime. If you choose the beach walk, there’s parking available at a cost, but this way will provide you ample time to spend on this photo worthy beach.
Since it’s environmentally protected, you have about a 15-minute walk to the beautiful Moshup Beach, a hotspot for sun seekers. To get to the cliffs, head to your right and, just so you know, the closer to the cliffs you walk, it becomes a nude beach. However you decide to experience the cliffs, it’s definitely worth your time and effort.
Day at the Beach
The Vineyard offers lots of beach choices. Two of my favorites are South Beach and Joseph Sylvia State Beach. For a lively beach scene with huge waves, South Beach is the place. It’s located on the south shore spanning three miles giving beachgoers plenty of breathing room and ample parking. Stretching two miles along Beach Road between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, you’ll find gentler waves and a quieter crowd at State Beach. Go early to grab a parking spot, because it can be challenging to find one later in the day.
Jump Off an Iconic Bridge
For a taste of cinematic history, don’t miss jumping off the iconic bridge featured in the classic 1975 film, Jaws. Dubbed Jaws Bridge by the locals, it’s a thrilling experience, even without a hungry shark. You’ll find this infamous bridge on Beach Road between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, closer to Oak Bluffs. Pay no attention to the posted warning of No jumping or diving from bridge – it’s not enforced. Don’t miss this summer rite of passage for locals and visitors.
Stroll around Edgartown
For a truly quaint New England feel, don’t miss a stop in Edgartown. Greek Revival homes line the streets of this historic seaport village whaling captains once called home. Plan for a full day because high-end shopping and delicious dining will compete for a good bit of your time. Edgartown is a favorite place making parking a challenge. If you don’t have a car or can’t find a parking space, you can hop a bus, shuttle or bike to get there. Or take a taxi or a rideshare. A day in Edgartown is well worth the time away from the beach.
Walk to Edgartown Lighthouse
Out of the five lighthouses found on the Island, my favorite is the Edgartown Lighthouse on Lighthouse Beach. A picturesque walk to reach the lighthouse will take you through rolling dunes and past boat docks. Go at the golden hour for fewer crowds and the best light of the day for photos.
Savor Clam Chowder
When on the Vineyard, do as Vineyarders do and have someclam chowder!Restaurants often use quahog, a small clam found in island waters for their chowder Wherever you choose to dine, grab a bowl of this creamy New England favorite.
The Black Dog Experience
Stop by the original Black Dog store for a t-shirt in Vineyard Haven. However, they’re usually pretty busy, so expect a line! A bakery and tavern are part of the brand and I have never been disappointed by anything I have eaten here.
Watch Sunset from Menemsha
For the greatest sunset, make your way to Menemsha Beach. It has become popular between both local and tourists, so expect a crowd. Come early and bring chairs or beach blankets to claim your front row view to watch the sun slip below the horizon.
You may want to bring dinner or purchase food from one of local fish markets. Larsens Fish Market or Menemsha Fish Market, which both are within walking distance. Parking spaces have a range of time limits from 30 minutes to several hours, so once again you may find parking a challenge.
Any amount of time spent on the Vineyard is worth the experience. Trust me, this special island is always on my mind and I still can’t wait to get back there!