Whether your cruise ship calls at this little island off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts or you’re driving from a New England cruise, you will find many things to do on the historic island of Martha’s Vineyard. The island itself has a population of about 15,000, but surges to over 75,000 in the summer time.
Since Martha’s Vineyard is only accessible by plane or ferry, you’ll want to keep your car on the mainland and take The Steamship Authority’s ferry over from Woods Hole ($16 per person round trip, $10 per day parking fee). Auto reservations for the Vineyard have to be made months and advance and will run you well over $100 (plus, the island is so crowded in the summer; you will not want to drive there). You can also fly there from Boston for around $200 round trip.
Five cool things to check out on Martha’s Vineyard:
1. Martha’s Vineyard Tours
This two and a half hour tour takes visitors through all six towns on the island. Narrated by a local, visitors will learn island history, pass the locations where JAWS was filmed, see some celebrity homes, pass through the Kennedy estate and see the preserved land of the Vineyard. These tours run with every ferry arrival and there is no reservation needed. For more information visit: www.mvtour.com
2. Cliffs of Aquinna
See magnificent views from high atop the cliffs. They Gay Head Lighthouse is up in this area, as well as, local eats that have visitors dining right over the cliffs. Aquinnah is home to the Wampanoag Indians and gained federal recognition in 1987, they still own and operate the markets and restaurants on the cliff. The MV Tour stops here for thirty minutes, otherwise you will have to hire a taxi or rent a scooter.
3. Walk around Oak Bluffs
Known for its gingerbread cottages, Oak Bluffs is filled with local restaurants, waterfront views, the oldest operating carrousel in America and great public beaches. It’s not hard to find a festival or a local celebration happening here (there seems to be one every weekend). It’s easy to spend hours getting lost in time. You can get dropped off here from the ferry, just check the schedule.
4. Watch a sunset in Menemsha Harbor
An active harbor for lobster and fishing boats, this harbor faces west and offers a remarkable sunset. People get to this town early to secure a parking spot and watch the sunset. Billy Joel used to have a house on the hill in Menemsha and this was another location where they shot scenes from JAWS. You can walk the village while enjoying a frappe or locally-caught lobster roll.
5. Eat Whole Belly Clams
These clams are caught locally off the island and are one of the island favorites. One of the best places to eat fried clams is the award-winning Giordano’s Restaurant in Oak Bluffs. This cash only establishment has a clam bar take-out area, as well as, a sit down full service Italian eatery. For more information visit: www.giosmv.com.
There are many plenty of other things to do on the island like rent bikes or a scooter (dangerous!) or take a harbor tour (but with the ferry ride over you get your harbor tour).
A great island resource is www.mvy.com and for ferry service check out www.steamshipauthority.com.