Martha’s Vineyard – Things To Do

Welcome to Gay Friendly Martha’s Vineyard Massachusetts…

Martha’s Vineyard is surrounded by Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds and the Atlantic.  The beaches reflect these differences in water temperature and surf.  The Atlantichas the higher surf and cooler waters and Sound beaches have gentler waves and many are great for kids.  The shoreline opposite the Elizabeth Islands is more rocky; Aquinnah has its Cliffs, which are stunning but off-limits.  There are several public beaches.  Most are saltwater, even Lake Tashmoo Beach at the Herring Creek outlet to Vineyard Sound.Uncle Seth’s Pond and Long Point Wildlife Refuge offers fresh-water swimming.  There are nude beaches for those so inclined.  What is crucial to know about Vineyardbeaches is that parking is often very limited, especially in summer.  Alternatives to a vehicle are to travel by bike, island bus or on foot.

There are harbors in Edgartown, Menemsha, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Havenwith marina services and mooring.  Ramps for boat launching are easy to find, such as inOak Bluffs at East Chop Drive and Medeiros Cove.  Since water is the main route to get here, the Vineyard is naturally boat-friendly.  It is recommended that those with boats requiring a slip or mooring, contact harbormasters.  There are many opportunities for boat rentals and charter trips.  Boating instruction is also available.  The Vineyard can be a challenging place to navigate due to tidal currents coming in from Boston and Providence.  There are also marine hazards such as reefs and shoals.

It doesn’t need to be said twice that Martha’s Vineyard is a great place to fish.  Striped bass and bluefish are the mainstays of spring, early summer and autumn fishing.  The Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby runs for a month in early fall and people of every age are out on the beach or on boats.  There are, of course, other species of fish to be had, such as bonito and mackerel and tuna, depending whether you fish from shore or a boat.  Fishing charters abound.

One campground is available on the Vineyard.  Several summer camps for kids are offered on the Island; most are day camps and center around a certain activity or interest.

Martha’s Vineyard has long been sensitive to the need for conservation.  The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank has been in existence since 1986 to purchase land for conservation.  There are other groups and societies on the Vineyard that have such goals in mind, as well as education and recreation.  The end result benefits walkers and hikers, among others. Trails are too numerous to list, ranging from short self-guided trails to longer ones encompassing hills, farmland and water views.

There’s a well-maintained network of bicycle paths on Martha’s Vineyard, running from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown and fromVineyard Haven to Edgartown.  Edgartown also has a bike path to South Beach.  Seasoned bicyclists may opt to bike toAquinnah, however may want to bear in mind there’s no path for most of the route and the road is windy and hilly.  You can bring your bike on the ferry or you can rent one when you get here.

You can take tours, or lessons.  You can rent a kayak and head out on your own.  There are many inlets and salt water ponds to explore.  Fishing tours by kayak are offered as well.

There are two public golf-courses on the Vineyard: a nine-hole course in Vineyard Haven and an 18-hole in Oak Bluffs.

There are five on Martha’s Vineyard.  West Chop Lighthouse was originally built in 1817 and was, more recently, the last to have had a lighthouse keeper.  East Chop Lighthouse is in Oak Bluffs, once called the “Chocolate Lighthouse” until 1988 when it was painted white.  Edgartown Lighthouse once sat on its own man-made island, until sands sifted in between it and the shore.  Gay Head Lighthouse sits on the cliffs and is lit each evening.  Cape Poge Lighthouse has had several incarnations, having been destroyed by the sea and rebuilt several times, the last in 1922.  In 1985, it was moved, curiously enough, by helicopter to its present site.  It is the least accessible of the lighthouses.

Guided Tours:
There are tours by air, land and sea.  There are lighthouse tours and tours focusing on history, such as the African-American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard.  There’s even a haunted walking tour.  Nature tours abound as well.

Visit the Massachusetts Audubon Society at the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary.  There are bird-watching walks that leave from, the Grange Hall twice a week in season.

Visitors come by air and by ferry.  Flights come into Martha’s Vineyard Airport from Boston, Hyannis, Nantucket,New Bedford and Providence.  Private planes can also be accommodated here.  There’s also the Katama Airfield, a grass airstrip. Ferries sail from Falmouth, Hyannis, New Bedford, Nantucket, Long Island NY and Woods Hole.  Woods Hole is the only ferry that carries vehicles.   Some ferries, such as those from Falmouth and Quonset Point, RI, are seasonal.  It’s often more practical to leave your car on the mainland.  You can bring your bike on the ferry or rent one.  On the island,  busses run regularly during the season.  Taxi service is also available.

Martha’s Vineyard has many fine restaurants, some with live entertainment.  Only those establishments in Edgartownand Oak Bluffs may serve alcohol. Vineyard Haven, West Tisbury, Chilmark, Menemsha and Aquinnah are “dry” towns.  Diners in those towns may be able to bring their own bottle; however, it is suggested you call ahead to check.