Martha's Vineyard Travel Review

Martha's Vineyard Images/Photos
Images of Martha's Vineyard

Did you know: The famous Spielberg film Jaws was filmed on Martha's Vineyard at Menemsha, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown.

Martha's Vineyard  Map

"Vineyard Days"
by Gene Pisasale

Vineyard Days

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"A perfect read for the beach or on your way to Martha's Vineyard!" - BookVisions

"The combination of the setting and the plot captivated me. Pisasale uses actual places to bring this book to life." - BookReviewsByDebra

"If you like stories that are about greed and fraud as well as murder and money, then this is a book for you... A great summer read." - Amazon Vine Voice Top 500 Reviewer.

Martha's Vineyard lays off the coast of Massachusetts - a one-hour ferry ride from Woods Hole or a very short plane trip from Boston. Although relatively small, the island offers a wide variety of scenery…from the misty beach at Cape Poge on Chappaquiddick…to the quaint fishing village of Menemsha…the colorful Victorian houses of Oak Bluffs in the North…and the spectacular ocean vistas at Gay Head (Aquinnah)…Martha's Vineyard is a jewel in the Northeast. We recommend taking a plane trip from Boston rather than the ferry from either Woods Hole or Hyannis Port to avoid long lines and multiple forms of necessary transportation.

Martha's Vineyard History

Called "Noepe" by the Indians, a word which means "in the midst of the sea", Martha's Vineyard is the largest island on the southeastern coast of Massachusetts. Martha's Vineyard was incorporated on November 1, 1668, along with Chappaquiddick, "Notman's Land" and the Elizabeth Islands, all part of Dukes County. Norsemen first visited the island around the year 1000 in their exploration of the northeast coast of North America. Italian explorer Verrazano sighted the island in 1524 and Bartholomew Gosnold of England sailed here in 1602 and named the island in honor of his mother Martha.

Martha's Vineyard - Clapboard BuildingLocal Wampanoag Indians inhabited the area and thrived on fishing until English settlers found the island ideal for the same pursuit. Nearby Nantucket Island became the whaling capital of the world in the 1880s - 1890s. Edgartown - the largest town on the island - was named after the first son of the Duke of York. The movie "Jaws" was filmed here in 1975 and caused greater media attention to the island.

In recent times, Martha's Vineyard has become famous as the playground of the rich, with homes for Carly Simon, James Taylor and other celebrities. Today it stands as a great place to relax, enjoy delicious seafood, fun shopping and generally escape from urban pressures. If you feel adventurous enough you could indulge and rent a yacht. You can find luxury yacht charters around the island if you are looking to spend the day or week at sea. It is a lovely grand tradition. More Martha's Vineyard history...

Martha's Vineyard Restaurants

Martha's Vineyard - Seafood ShantyEdgartown: There are numerous restaurants ranging from local pubs to upscale dining. The Seafood Shanty has an overly 'casual' name, but the food is good with an open air deck giving you a superb view of the waterfront at sunset - the place to be for cocktails on a nice afternoon or evening. For the best and inexpensive, hometown breakfast with the fishing crowd, stop at the Dock Street Coffee Shop (a bit funky), where a variety of interesting local characters are sure to keep the conversation lively. It's good, it's cheap and it's truly American fare... Other breakfast musts are the Edgartown Inn and the Harbor View Hotel (elegant, but expensive). Some other good restaurants are The Atlantic (a new restaurant with deck seating and great Seafood Chowder), The Wharf Pub and Restaurant (relaxing atmosphere where we had pan roasted Cod and Vegetable Penne - light and excellent), and Newes from America (small cozy pub atmosphere). There are many fine dining restaurants including Atria and Chesca's that we recommend highly.

Oak Bluffs: Known for The Oyster Bar, Oak Bluffs also has several harbor view restaurants of varying decor (from beach huts to sit down dining). Our favorite is Nancy's with both indoor dining and a great deck overlooking the harbor.

Menemsha: This small fishing village has several 'hut style' places to eat fresh fish just caught that morning. Be ready for a very low key, "sit on benches" and outside walls atmosphere. The prices at the Menemsha Fish Market are also higher than you would expect for a 'shack', but the food is reasonably good. The best restaurant is the Beach Plum Inn up the road which boasts excellent high-end dining and a great sunset we agree! More Martha's Vineyard restaurants...

Martha's Vineyard Attractions

Martha's Vineyard - Seafood ShantyYou should try to spend at least 3-4 days on the island to get on 'island time'. Martha's Vineyard residents take great pride in their beautiful gardens and a walking tour around the outskirts of Edgartown allows wonderful views of New England clapboard houses surrounded by gorgeous floral arrangements. Edgartown is the place to go for the best in fine dining, great shopping, art galleries, sunset cruises and night life. Martha's Vineyard has many bike paths that take you around the island. Rent a bike at Wheel Happy in the morning and take the Ocean Road to Oak Bluffs - an easy 30 minute ride. For another option, take the ferry over to Chappaquiddick, ride out past the Oriental (My Toi) Gardens to Cape Poge Beach and Wildlife Refuge where the morning fog kisses the beach and you can rent a canoe or ocean kayak to explore the beautiful inlets. Stroll the quaint streets past the many art galleries and nautical-themed shops back in Edgartown and pick up some great gifts, along with perhaps a pair of Summer shorts (a popular color is “Nantucket red"), tops, belts and T-shirts. The Edgartown Inn has hosted celebrities, congressmen and other statesmen since the 1800's- but the best waterfront view is at the Harborside Inn.

Martha's Vineyard - Oak Bluffs Gingerbread HousesOak Bluffs to the North boasts the oldest merry-go-round still in operation in the U.S. (the Flying Horses Carousel, 1876). It also has over 300 Gingerbread Cottages built as a result of Methodist Church camp meetings. There are quaint shops along with the main docks for the ferries to Nantucket and back to the mainland.

Vineyard Haven is a miniature Edgartown, with a bit less hustle and bustle, but many quaint shops and good food. Bookstores and antique shops, art galleries and furniture stores give you a wide array of shopping options. My favorite bookstore- the Bunch of Grapes- has now "risen from the ashes" and is re-opening for business!!!!

Martha's Vineyard - MenemshaMenemsha is the place to go to get away from the crowds, where you can get fresh seafood right off the boat and stroll the waterline where the fishing boats come in… This is also the town where much of the movie "Jaws" was filmed along with scenes in Edgartown.

A short trip west to Gay Head (Aquinnah) allows you to see the best panoramic ocean views on the island. James Taylor, Livingston Taylor, Carly Simon and other folk-rock heroes of the early-mid 1970's have owned homes and spent time on Martha's Vineyard and have often played at the Hot Tin Roof. There are several bike trails around the island and the Island Transit Authority offers prompt and convenient bus service to all points of interest.

Beaches - Martha's Vineyard has several beaches - each with its own style. We recommend South Beach (Katama) for standard sunbathing and 'kids in the sand' activities; Cape Poge beach for quiet solitude away from the crowds; Moshup beach near Gay Head for the most picturesque views (the beach has fantastic rocks and spectacular views of the Aquinnah cliffs).

For an even more relaxing escape from civilization, you can even take the ferry over to Nantucket, formerly the whaling capital of the world in the 1870's- 1880's, where Herman Melville wrote his famous "Moby Dick"… one of the great classics of literature. Superb lobster bisque, fresh lobster, mussels, scallops, shrimp, oysters and other seafood is brought in fresh daily and the cobblestone streets will take you back in time… to the days when lamps burned with whale oil and fireplaces smoked with fresh cut timber to keep sailor's wives warm on those long Winter nights. Go to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket to relax and re-charge… you may not want to leave. More Martha's Vineyard attractions...