Martha’s Vineyard is home to beautiful beaches and historic towns and is a beautiful island to explore. Whether you have only a day or a weekend, it should be on your bucket list.
How do you get to Martha's Vineyard?
Martha’s Vineyard is located off the coast of Cape Cod. It is easily reached by ferry. You can catch the ferry at Woods Hole or at Hyannis. Depending on which ferry you take, you will end up in Oaks Bluff or Vineyard Haven, but both towns are near each other and a quick taxi ride away. It takes about an hour to get to the Island. I recommend that you book your tickets in advance as well as parking for your vehicle if you are going during the peak season. You can book tickets at Vineyard Ferries.
The main ferries are The Steamship Authority and Hy-Line Cruises.
When is the best time to visit Martha's Vineyard?
Martha’s Vineyard is mainly a summer town, although there are locals who live there year round.
Can you take your car on Martha's Vineyard? Do you need one?
Yes, but it takes lots of planning before hand and is expensive. It’s about $80-100 each way to take your car. It also limits that you have to go out of Wood’s Hole. We rented a car from Hertz in Vineyard Haven. There are also smaller rental car companies in Oaks Bluff right as you get off the ferry.
You don’t necessarily need a car if you want to stick mostly to Oaks Bluff and Edgartown. If you want to explore the whole island and see all the different beaches, you either need to rent a car or try to arrange a tour. You can arrange a tour when you are purchasing the ferry tickets. If you are planning on renting a car, I would recommend booking it in advance.
Things to know before you go to Martha's Vineyard
- Many shops only accept cash so make sure to bring extra.
- If you are taking the ferry during summertime, there can be a long line to get on. If you are near the end, you may have to sit separately or stand.
- The traffic going from Oaks Bluff to Edgartown can be bad. If you go the opposite direction, you won’t run into much traffic.
- This is the island where Jaws was filmed. Watch it before you go. You can see Jaws bridge and other memorabilia. The town scenes were filmed mostly in Edgartown. Pick up some Jaws memorabilia while you are there.
- If you like ice cream, try Mad Martha’s Ice Cream. They have a few locations on the island in Oaks Bluff and Edgartown. Perfect for a summer day.
Things to do
Try to take an early ferry over to Oaks Bluff or Vineyard Haven. We rented a car and got on the road early. The Vineyard can get very crowded during the peak season.
To drive the entire island, it takes less than 2 hours without stops. My recommendation is to go see the cliffs first. That way you avoid the traffic that goes from Oaks Bluff to Edgartown.
Go explore the Aquinnah cliffs, one of the most beautiful places on the island.
You can park in the circle and its about a 10 minute walk up to see the cliffs.
There are many tourist shops along the way. There is also a restaurant that has an 180 degree ocean view.
Don’t forget to stop by the Gay Head lighthouse when you are visiting the cliffs. If you feel up to it, you can climb to the top for some great views.
A quick drive from the Aquinnah Cliffs. This is an active fishing village. It feels like your in the movie Jaws.
There are a few fish markets that you can eat at here. It was the place recommended to eat. Food was expensive and truthfully wasn’t the greatest. But the experience was amazing. I recommend getting a small snack, but actually eating in Edgartown.
This is where you are probably going to spend most of your time. Originally was a major whaling center, now its mostly a tourist town. Has a cute Main Street with lots of places to eat and shop. Surrounding the Main Street are one way streets with classic Cape Cod style houses.
It may look familiar if you have seen Jaws!
Don’t forget to see the lighthouse while you are there.
Returning back to Vineyard Haven
Depending on how much time you have, you can return your car back to rental center or explore more.
Beautiful Drives and scenery
- State beach road – from Edgartown, you will go on the State beach road between Edgartown and Oaks Bluff. This is where Jaws was filmed.
- East Chop – Martha’s Vineyard is known for being a vacation island for the wealthy. You will find nice houses throughout the island, but this is the area where they are more congregated. Make sure to stop at the lighthouse as well.
- West Chop – Similar to East Chop with expensive houses, but more secluded. Also has its own lighthouses
Explore Oaks Bluff and Vineyard Haven
After dropping off your rental car, explore the towns of Vineyard Haven and Oaks Bluff.
Vineyard Haven has a Main Street with many fun shops and places toe eat.
Oaks Bluff has a Main Street right as you get off the ferry with the typical tourist shops. The thing to see in this town are all the Gingerbread houses. Many years ago, this was a retreat site for Methodists. They built these vibrantly painted houses and many of them continue to be well preserved. There are over 300 of them.
Are you going on a lighthouse tour?
There are 5 lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard.
- West Chop Lighthouse
- East Chop Lighthouse
- Edgartown Lighthouse
- Gay Head Lighthouse – near Aquinnah Cliffs
- Cape Pope Lighthouse