Travel Guide: Martha’s Vineyard, the Charming Island between New York and Boston

Nestled in Massachussets, Martha’s Vineyard shines with a dreamy atmosphere. This popular summer destination lies just south of Cape Code. It bursts with splendid beaches and cute cottages. Usually it’s called only the Vineyard.

It’s only accessible by boat or ferry from ports in New York, Boston and New Jersey. The nearest one is in Cape Code. Six towns on the island offer the taste of culture, shopping and sightseeing.

Romantic sailboats and fantastic hotels intertwine with the charming ambience. It’s the place to see old lighthouses and farmers markets.

The deaf community is pretty strong at Martha’s Vineyard and several hundred years old. The origins were probably at the English area Weald.

Martha’s Vineyard is the place of rich and famous where cute gingerbread houses allure visitors.

See also: The Hudson Valley, paradise near New York


Martha’s Vineyard was the home of the Wampanoag people originally. Its Massachusset language was Noepe, which translates as „land amid the streams“. The Wampanoag people occupied southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. More than 3000 of Wampanoag people lived on the Martha’s Vineyard alone.

Martha's Vineyard on the mapp
Martha’s Vineyard on the mapp- Credit:

Arrival of the English colonists included the purchase of Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Elisabeth Islands. Thomas Mayhew from Watertown in Massachusetts established the colonial area. Hiacoome people eventually converted to Christianity due to the relation with the young Mayhew.

Dukes County was established in 1683 and included New York and Martha’s Vineyard. It existed till 1691 when the Dukes County united with the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

The whaling industry prevailed during the 19th century at Martha’s Vineyard and nearby Nantucket. It was the starting point for the ships to reach the world.

The Name

The idyllic sound of the name traces its sources to Bartholomew Gosnold and his mother or daughter. He was leading the first European expedition to Cape Cod in 1602. It’s one of the oldest English settlements in the United States.

It was also known as Martin’s Vineyard due to the captain of Gosnold’s ship, John Martin.

The United States took the official decision to name it Marthas Vineyard without the aphostophs. The idea was dropped in the early 20th century, so it remained Martha’s Vineyard.

Its original name was Noepe or Capawock.

Martha’s Vineyard in the Modern Times

In the World War II, soldiers occupied Martha’s Vineyard. Their trainings included landing on beaches or climbing cliffs.

Gingerbread houses, the main attraction of Martha's Vineyard-
Gingerbread houses, the main attraction of Martha’s Vineyard- Credit:

The Chappaquiddick incident happened on the island, deeply changing the Martha’s Vineyard. In 1969, it caused one death due to a car crash.

The movie Jaws from 1974 took place on Martha’s Vineyard. Steven Spielberg made a fantastic thriller, the first motion picture on the ocean. The fishing village of Menemsha and the town of Chilmark shined in glory.

The separation from Massachusetts became actual in 1977. After losing a place in Massachusetts General Court, the separatist flag still flies on the island.

Popular American actor John Belushi was buried at Martha’s Vineyard. Bill Clinton and other American presidents commonly take vacations on the island.


Six towns show the rich history of Martha’s Vineyard. Their alluring shine flows through a particular character. The upper area covers three rural towns- Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury. Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven are the larger places on the Down-Island.


Aquinnah is home to the stunning clay cliffs and natural dunes. The Wampanoag Indian tribe holds the strong history here. The Gay Head Lighthouse encompasses the stunning views. The Elisabeth Islands stand in the distance above the cliffs. The colourful clay deposits create the stunning reflections on the cliffs.

The coloured cliffs of Aquinnah
The coloured cliffs of Aquinnah- Credit:


Many Wampanoag shops and restaurants fill the promenade near the cliffs. This includes the Aquinnah Wampanoag Indian Museum.

The outdoor lovers will find their piece of cake at Aquinnah within the unspoiled countryside.


Chilmark lies in the picturesque setting of the rolling hills and stone walls. The fabulous sunset scatters at the fishing village of Menemsha.

Its stunning beaches blend into the dramatic images. Green pastures full of sheep flow in this lovely place. Chilmark chocolates offer unique flavours full of charm.

Lucy Vincent and Squibnocket are the beaches stretching in the town. Menemsha beach lies in the tranquil waters, which makes it suitable for small children.

In the spring, Chilmark hosts The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival.


Edgardtown is the largest place on the island, pulling the roots in 1642. White-painted houses and picturesque churches fill the streets. Yachting history still gathers the sailors.

Martha’s Vineyard Museum covers the unique stories of the island. Edgardtown is a place to see the charming lighthouses.

View of Edgardtown from above, Martha's Vineyard
View of Edgardtown from above, Martha’s Vineyard- Credit:

Chappaquiddick Island or „Chappy“ is a picturesque place where cycling or hiking inspire people to visit. Properly here Mytoi Gardens dwell in the Japanese charm.
Morning Glory Farm offers an abundant experience full of fresh products. Norton Point Beach lies on a long stretch of sand and dunes.

At Vincent House Museum, guests can experience life as it was once at Vineyard. Its origins date back to 1672 and from 1977 Vincent House exists as a museum. Antique furniture intertwines with the details like bay-board flooring. The Elizabethan herb garden is a fantastic addition to the house.

Oak Bluffs

Oak Bluffs is the main ferry port, together with Tisbury. Once a part of Edgardtown, it became a separate town in 1880.

The gingerbread houses of Oak Bluff
The gingerbread houses of Oak Bluff- Credit:

The gingerbread houses shine in their colourful allure. Trinity Park Tabernacle offers plenty of outdoor activities and events just near gingerbread houses.  The pristine beaches plead its most exquisite invite. Inkwell Beach is pretty central in the cozy location. The State beach is also very popular. Jaws Bridge is particularly famous as it was a filming location in a 1975 movie.

In the field of summer tourism, the African American population left historical traces. The popular hotel, Shearer Cottage, played a significant role in this regard.

A special attraction in Oak Bluffs is the Flying Horses Carousel, the oldest carousel in the country.

Vineyard Haven

Tisbury is the official name of this town, known as Vineyard Haven. Holmes Hole was its name from the 17th century. It’s the main ferry port that sits in the scenic harbour.

The creative industry here gathers handcrafts, theatre, music, films and wonderful restaurants. The artistic spirit lives in several galleries. Martha’s Vineyard Museum covers detailed insight in history. Beautiful murals decorate the Katherine Cornell Theatre. The International Film Festival happens in September.

West Tibury, on the other hand, dwells in the rural charm.


One of the reasons that Martha’s Vineyard attracts many summer visitors is its scenic beaches. Looking gorgeous and unspoiled, it’s difficult to squeeze the choice. Not all beaches are open to the public, but most of them are.

Menemsha Beach

Menemsha Beach near Chillmark is the most popular sunset spot on the Vineyard. The calm waters of Menemsha beach sit near the lovely Menemsha Harbour.

Sunset at Menemsha Beach
Sunset at Menemsha Beach- Credit:

Families enjoy visiting this beach as there’s a large choice of amenities. Food vendors sell a large choice of snacks and sweets. In the town centre, the elegant restaurants offer more dining options.

Many people gather here at the sunset for the best island view.

Menemsha Hill above bursts with fantastic views. It covers the cliffs of Aquinnah with the Elisabeth and Normal Islands in the distance. This nature reserve near Chilmark holds the protective plants. Some of them include red maples, beech, dune grass or goldenrod and beach plum.

Inkwell Beach

Inkwell Beach or Oak Bluffs Town Beach is located in this adorable town. It’s a small beach which can be quite crowded. The calm waters attract many families with small children.

It holds a strong heritage of black families and that’s how it got the name Inkwell. Seeing Chappaquiddick Island in the distance looks marvellous.

Katama Beach

Katama Beach in Edgardtown is one of the most stunning at Martha’s Vineyard. It’s great for surfers but, at the same time, offers calm waters in its ponds. Also known as South Beach, it’s a long stretch of turquoise water.

Lifeguards will ensure visitors if the swimming is safe. It can be risky because of high waters at times.
Winnetu Oceanside Resort in the beautiful ambience offers plenty of activities. Some of them include lawn games, bike riding or simply enjoying the beach. It’s the most amazing choice at Vineyard, right at the beach.

Gay Head Beach (Moshup Beach)

Moshup Beach lies within the embrace of Gay Head Cliffs, offering stunning scenery. It’s less crowded than other beaches on the island. The Aquinnah Cliffs serve as the top attraction on the island. The laid-back atmosphere of Aquinnah town blends with the natural treasures. The multicoloured cliffs provide the dramatic background.

There’s a bit of a walk to the parking lot, which makes the beach a bit remote. The lifeguards are not often on service.

Joseph Sylvia State Beach

Shortly known as the State Beach this is a true invite for the families and kids. Stretching between Edgardtown and Oak Bluffs, it flows with quiet waters. The famous Jaws Bridge was a movie setting. The Sengecontacket Pond shoreline is a popular promenade nearby.

The beach is pretty narrow and fishing happens commonly. Lots of seashells are the reason that attracts many families.

Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary

The visitor’s heart becomes full at this natural treasure. The stunning views encompass tranquil fields, meadows and ponds. The charm of protected beaches invite to discover its pristine corners.

Woman kayaking at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary
Woman kayaking at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary- Credit:

The walking trails consist of 5 miles where guests can learn about native birds, plants and animals. The classes and activities for all ages pour inspiring wisdom. Children can take Fern and Feather Summer Day camp.

Taking a kayaking tour at Sengekontacket Pond fills the urge for adventure.

Polly Hill Arboretum

Polly Hill Arboretum in West Tisbury is the highlight of Martha’s Vineyard. The large areas of shrubs, trees and flowers represent the international botanical treasure. The legendary horticulturist Polly Hill started the Arboretum in 1958, which was announced as such in 1998.

Polly Hill Arboretum, Visitor's Centre
Polly Hill Arboretum, Visitor’s Centre- Credit:

The marvellous collection of plants spins the fields with rhododendrons, crabapples, magnolias and others. Among the stone walls delight the beauty of camellias, local azaleas or conifers. The educational classes cover the fantastic shine of the Arboretum.

The Farm Institute

The Farm Institute at Katama Farm bursts with knowledge of traditional organic agriculture. The fruits and vegetables grow year-around in gardens and greenhouses. Guided and self-guided tours are available for a donation.

Children getting knowledge of animals at Farm Institute, Martha's Vineyard
Children getting knowledge of animals at Farm Institute, Martha’s Vineyard- Credit:

Summer camps for adults and children enrich the offer, including cooking classes, movie nights or farm chores.

Lake Tashmoo

Lake Tashmoo at the north shore of Martha’s Vineyard is a tranquil necklace of natural allure. Belonging to Vineyard Haven, it holds the shallow and calm waters. Visitors can enjoy kayaking, sunset cruising, swimming or fishing.

Lake Tashmoo from above, Martha Vineyard
Lake Tashmoo from above, Martha Vineyard- Credit:

The nearby Vineyard Haven is a charming town full of shops with local crafts. Seaworthy Gallery, for instance, sells the wonderful artworks and photography.

Outdoor Adventures

Martha’s Vineyard is the paradise for outdoor lovers. The late summer offers the perfect weather and plenty of adventurous joy. Many nature walks will help you discover the rich wildlife, lovely lighthouses and amazing scenery. The boat tours offer a fantastic way to explore the surroundings.

Long Point Wildlife Refuge in West Tisbury offers the fascinating discovery of beaches, woodlands and ponds. Many rare plants find their home in this unique landscape. Salt and fresh waters shine with swimming joy. The possibilities for kayaking or paddleboarding delight the adventurous spirit.

Long Point Wildlife Refuge and its beaches from above
Long Point Wildlife Refuge and its beaches from above- Credit:

Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in the heart of Martha’s Vineyard is a true gem. The miles of trails dwell in the recharging spirit of its woodlands. The native ecosystem focuses upon conservation in the Correllus State Forest.

Conclusion- The Charming Discovery of Martha’s Vineyard

The alluring charm of Martha’s Vineyard starts with the gingerbread houses. This historical island hosts the pretty towns full of traditional houses. Lovely beaches hold a gorgeous invitation to truly relax.

Martha’s Vineyard is the enticing island at the adorable location. Exploring its beaches, charming towns and historical spirit unveils the pristine magic of living.

With the convenient location close to New York and Boston, the Vineyard shines with a tropical charm. Embracing nature at Martha’s Vineyard comes so easily, where the rich and famous find their escape.

Delicious restaurants encompass the magic and make Martha’s Vineyard a place from the novels.


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