Wash Ashore on Martha’s Vineyard

Summertime on Martha’s Vineyard is the season of washashores, or seasonal visitors to the island as local residents call them, arriving to take over this small, 20-mile-long block of land off of the coast of Massachusetts. From June to September, the Vineyard becomes bustling with tourists and vacationers returning to their summer homes to soak up the sun and escape the mainland.

With the entirety of Martha’s Vineyard open for the summer season after a quiet winter, there is plenty to do in the small island’s towns, but any horse enthusiast will love the scenic equestrian facilities that offer riding camps, pony rides, trail rides, and lessons. Arrowhead Farm, Red Pony Farm, and Pond View Farm are all located in West Tisbury and offer just some of the island’s equine attractions.

Shopaholics should head to Edgartown on the eastern side of the Vineyard for their share of splurging. Main Street is lined with local shops and restaurants and is right on the route of the island’s annual Fourth of July Parade. Pop into Behind the Bookstore for an amazing breakfast sandwich or reserve a patio table at a restaurant to watch the parade go by. Oak Bluffs also offers a selection of shops and places to grab a meal—it wouldn’t be a trip to Martha’s Vineyard without getting the famous Dirty Banana from Donovan’s Reef at Nancy’s for those of legal age. America’s oldest carousel, the Flying Horses, and the well-known gingerbread cottages also reside in “OB.”

Of course, you can’t be on an island without going to the beach. A short drive to the southwestern tip of the Vineyard will bring you to the town of Aquinnah and the historic Gay Head Lighthouse, the first lighthouse to be constructed on the island, which sits atop picturesque clay cliffs facing the water. While the cliffs are off-limits to limit erosion, a walking path leads down to the beach for a view from below and a lookout point at the top offers a panoramic view of the area. A sunset view is best found at Menemsha Beach in Chilmark, which also has an active fishing harbor, so a fresh bite to eat is only a short walk away.

If the ferry ride to the island isn’t enough time on the water for you, a sail on The Black Dog Tall Ships are a must. Afternoon and sunset sails on the schooner Alabama allow you to bring your own snacks and beverages for a three-hourlong sail spent learning the history of The Black Dog, helping raise the sails, and watching the sun go down over the water. Weeklong Kids Cruises are also offered on the Shenandoah if your little one is an avid sailor.

While finding a place to stay on the island can be tough, the way to go is to reserve one of the many vacation rentals owned by locals and off-islanders—just be sure to book your stay early so you don’t miss out on any Vineyard fun!


What to Do 

The Black Dog Tall Ships

Whether it be a sunset sail on the Alabama or sending your kiddo off on the Shenandoah, a sail aboard one of Captain Bob’s famous schooners is a must. theblackdogtallships.com

Gay Head Lighthouse and Cliffs

The view from the top of these cliffs just might take your breath away—make sure to bring a camera. gayheadlight.org

Town of Oak Bluffs

A daytime stroll to see the gingerbread cottages or a turn on the Flying Horses is enough to visit this busy town. oakbluffsma.gov

Where to Stay

Mansion House

This hotel is a short walk from the Vineyard Haven ferry. mvmansionhouse.com

Vacation Rental

With plenty of rentals on the water or in-land, you can’t go wrong with staying in one of the island’s many vacation rentals.

Harbor View Hotel

Open year-round, the Harbor View is in the heart of Edgartown and not far from restaurants and shopping. harbor-view.com

Where to Eat

Behind The Bookstore

This cute café is tucked away behind Edgartown Books and offers delicious sandwiches and coffee. btbmv.com


No matter what you order from Nancy’s—whether it be from the restaurant, Snack Bar, Raw Bar, or Donovan’s Reef—it’ll be tasty. nancysrestaurant.com

Lookout Tavern

Sushi, meals, and a great view are offered at this tavern that faces the ocean. lookoutmv.com


Categories: Travel