I’m going to preface this post by letting you know that it’s a picture-heavy post and I’m covering a lot so get your coffee or cold drink ready! I spent just 1 day in Martha’s Vineyard but I took so many pictures and even after just choosing the ones I really wanted to share I still have over a dozen! But really, who can complain about pretty pictures?
Like when I went to Nantucket, I went on the Hy-Line Ferry to Martha’s Vineyard for the day while on vacation in Cape Cod. The ferry to Martha’s Vineyard is much smaller than the one going to Nantucket and I think this is for 2 reasons. 1 – more people go to Nantucket and 2 – Martha’s Vineyard is a much bigger island than Nantucket so there is more than 1 port. The port I was leaving from in Hyannis only ferries people to Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard so if you wanted to go to another town you’d have to go to a different port for departure.
So first, why is it called Martha’s Vineyard? One popular story is that British explorer Bartholomew Gosnold came to the island and named the island after his deceased infant daughter, Martha. The island had wild grapes and growing all over (and there are still wild grapes growing on the island) so they named it Martha’s Vineyard. There is no definitive proof that this is how the island got its name but I like it!
Anyway, as I said the island is quite large and unlike the downtown/historic area of Nantucket, it’s hard to get around the island without a car or bike. You can get around towns themselves with a bike or by walking, but the island is made up of 6 towns so if you want to see more than just the little area you’re in when you get off the ferry, you’re going to need to rent a car or book a tour. We decided to book a full island van tour which lasted about 3 hours and took us around to all the towns. And yes, Martha’s Vineyard had beautiful flowers just like Nantucket!
When we got off the ferry we had about 45 minutes to grab some lunch before we had to meet our tour guide. After quickly eating, we had a few minutes to take some pictures of the coastline as we waited for the van.
Top: Bungalow 20 | Shorts: LC Lauren Conrad via Kohl’s | Purse: Coach | Flip Flops: Kohl’s | Sunglasses: Quay Australia
(Specifics on my outfit to come in a future fashion post!)
Our tour guide arrived and we got into the van and took off with 8 others. Our guide took us around the island and drove us through (with some stops) the 6 towns of the island. The island has so much history that I really loved learning all about it and I tried to remember everything so I could share it with you all but it’s just so much! Our guide told us a lot about the history and the people of the island both past and present as well as pointed out all the places Jaws was filmed!
What I loved about Martha’s Vineyard was that the land and communities vary so much. There are rolling hills filled with farms and agriculture and then a few miles down the road you’re back at the coast and in the midst of a fishing village. I’m told there is a really strong community amongst the people of the island and it’s a big celebrity haven simply because celebrities can have privacy there – the locals don’t hound them. Community bonds are so strong that there is virtually no crime in Martha’s Vineyard! Our tour guide credits this all the way back to hundreds of years ago after the island was settled. He spoke about a good relationship with the Native Americans there and how they respected and learned from one another. Early settlers even decided that any decisions made on the island had to be agreed upon equally between the settlers and the natives. So this idea of openness and religious, cultural, tolerance has transcended through the years and centuries.
Our first stop was at the above lighthouse. This was on the side of the island still facing Cape Cod. In the distance across the water is Hyannis!
The above photos are a good example of the different landscapes you’ll find there. Farms, coastline, and in some of the more populated towns you’ll get a more small town/ suburban feel whereas in other towns the houses will be farther apart and sit on large plots of land. By the way that’s an ox behind the stone wall on the first photo above. And if you’re wondering why all the stone walls in Martha’s Vineyard are dry stacked it’s because of the winds they get from storms. If they mortared the stones they would blow over, so the space allows the wind to just pass right through.
Next, we stopped for about 15 minutes in this little area of Chilmark, a fishing community. As soon as we stepped off the van you could smell the fish. Probably because there was about a hundred lobster traps right in front of me and the Menemsha Fish Market! It was incredibly picturesque though!
The most beautiful part of the whole day was seeing the cliffs in Aquinnah! They were so beautiful with the long grass swaying in the wind and the lighthouse in the background. Fun fact – the lighthouse was moved a few years ago (back 18 feet) because of erosion!
It was so pretty and the breeze gave the perfect effect. You may have seen it in my Instastories. I’ll be putting together a few short videos from my trip for YouTube starting next week so you’ll get to see it then if you missed it!
We continued driving on forward, back to Oak Bluffs all while passing some gorgeous large houses and then some smaller, beautiful neighborhoods.
Once we arrived back in Oak Bluffs, we walked around a bit more after grabbing a snack from a shop. There’s an area of the town that has a little community which is part of the camp association and they decorated the houses to look like gingerbread houses! They call them the gingerbread houses, but they’re not as candy looking as I had in mind. They are cute though! They’re mostly pastel colored and all have a white filigree type trim. Below are a few of the houses!
In the early evening we took the hour long ferry back to Cape Cod and went out for a late, but delicious dinner (food post coming tomorrow!) before heading back to the hotel.
I really enjoyed my day in Martha’s Vineyard learning about the island and seeing the beautiful sights. It’s definitely a more residential place than Nantucket in terms of things for tourists to do (although some areas of the island are not open year-round) but still pretty.