There are basically eight towns on Martha’s Vineyard and we went to the four more touristy ones.
We spent the most time in Oak Bluffs because that’s where our B&B was. The guidebook described it as “less refined” with a “vibrant vacation vibe.” Because we were there in May, most of the vacation homes weren’t occupied, although many were having work done to them to get them ready to open for the summer.
Marina : Since this is an island, there is a marina area, which also has restaurants and bars.
Beaches : There are three beaches in Oak Bluffs and the Town Beach (pictured) was at the end of the street our B&B was on.
"Campground" Houses : Oak Bluffs used to be the location of Methodist summer revival meetings and the annual attendees started building small, colorful cottages decorated with gingerbread. Many of the larger houses are also decorated with gingerbread, and it’s pleasant to walk around just looking at the houses, but the “Campground” area is packed with little tiny Victorian houses that it doesn’t even seem real. The campground is in the area surrounding Trinity Park Road.
Flying Horses : One of the main attractions here is the Flying Horses Carousel, which sadly wasn’t yet open when we were there, but I did find a house that had carousel horse gingerbread around the porch.
Aquinnah is located on the western side of Martha’s Vineyard so we took the bus out there to see the cliffs. There are a few restaurants there but they hadn’t opened for the season so we brought along a picnic lunch to eat on the beach.
Aquinnah Cliffs : The cliffs are simply spectacular and frankly the main reason I wanted to come to the island. You can get a breath taking view from the overlook near the lighthouse or take the longer walk down to the beach and view them from there. The color in the cliffs is from the clay in the soil and removing the clay or walking or climbing on the cliffs is prohibited.
Gay Head Lighthouse : The lighthouse, which is located near the cliff overlook, was in the process of being moved while we were there, so we were unable to get close to it. (And after we got back home there was a photo of it being moved printed in our local newspaper.)
Moshup Beach : You have to walk down to Moshup Beach in order to view the cliffs from below.
Vineyard Haven (which is actually called Tisbury) is where most of the ferries arrive. There is a lighthouse here, but it’s a bit of a walk so what we mostly did was look for mermaids and shop, including a visit to the Night Heron Gallery, which is an artist co-op.
The guidebook described Edgartown as “tonier” than the other towns, and while I knew what the word meant, I don’t think I’ve seen or heard it actually used before (so of course we spent the rest of our trip using that word to describe things).
Shopping & Art : This bronze sculpture was in front of an art gallery, of which there are many here in tony Edgartown. Shopping, eating, looking at art is the main thing to do here.
Edgartown Lighthouse : The Edgartown Lighthouse is a short walk from town and is located on a public beach.
Getting to Martha's Vineyard
Martha’s Vineyard is an island, so you need to take either a plane or a boat to get to it. Once tourist season starts, there are many options for ferries, with fewer options during the off season, or if you want to take your car to the island, which isn’t suggested because during peak season parking becomes an issue. And if you do take your car, you’ll need a reservation. Of course if you don’t take your car then you have to pay to park it while you’re gone.
We took the Steamship Authority slow ferry out of Woods Hole, which takes about 45 minutes and costs $8.50 per person (one way), and since we didn’t take our car, we didn’t need reservations.
There are several parking lots and you can find out which one to use by checking their mobile website, tuning into 1610AM, calling their parking line, or looking for road signs. All of the parking lots are several miles from the ferry dock but they do offer a free shuttle.
Getting Around Martha's Vineyard
Since we did as it was suggested and didn’t take our car, we utilized the public bus system. The busses operate year round and the schedule is clear and convenient.
The only tricky part was the fare. They website states it’s $1.25 PER TOWN, but that will include the town that you start from. So unless you’re just going one town over and back, it really does make sense to buy an all-day pass for $8. They also don’t give change, but if you’re travelling with someone else you can pay together (if you’re going one town over and there are two of you, you can just pay $5 instead of each of you having to have exactly $2.50).
Other options include renting bikes or mopeds.