© Courtesy of Martha’s Vineyard
A Guide to the Island’s Six Towns
Martha’s Vineyard is a picturesque island paradise, just 11 kilometres off the coast of Massachusetts but a world away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland. The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center is your trusted resource to plan a dream vacation, find the best hotel or home rental, recommend restaurants and businesses, and so much more!
Spring, summer, fall, or winter—every season is the perfect time to Visit Martha’s Vineyard. Grab a ferry from several ports, including New Bedford, Woods Hole, Hyannis, MA, and Quonset, RI, for a quick ride across Vineyard Sound, and your island adventure awaits!
We’re just one island with six small towns, each with its own distinctive personality.
Formerly known as Gay Head, Aquinnah is the westernmost town, known for a red brick lighthouse (first in the USA to use the Fresnel lens), beautiful clay cliffs, stunning views of the Elizabeth Islands, Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds, beautiful beaches, and breathtaking sunsets. Aquinnah is the home of the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah and has a terrific Cultural Center where you can learn all about the whaling and tribal history of the town. The Aquinnah Circle Cultural District encompasses the natural and man-made structures that tell the timeless history of these sacred lands and the people who have cared for them for centuries. Visit the Shops at Aquinnah Cliffs for handcrafts, tasty treats, and a tour of the area.
Chilmark is a town of rolling farmland dotted by grazing sheep on a background of bright blue skies, ancient stonewalls, and the authentic fishing village of Menemsha. Originally founded by farmers who passed on a genetic hearing disorder that resulted in nearly a quarter of the population being deaf, the town was known for centuries as one where everyone spoke by hand and is acknowledged as the birthplace of MVSL (Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language).
Head to the Chilmark Flea Market on Saturday mornings for an eclectic mix of the old and the new, or make a special trip to Menemsha for the freshest seafood, some fishing, or spread your blanket on the beach to catch mother nature’s glorious sunsets the perfect end to an island day.
The first of the island towns, founded by whaling captains, the town centre has retained its integrity, and the densely populated streets are lined with historic whaling captains’ homes—some privately owned, and some turned into little shops, cafes, restaurants, and inns. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle, grab a bike and hop on the On Time Ferry to Chappaquiddick Island in Edgartown Harbour. You’ll find great riding on thinly populated roads, the Mytoi Gardens, fishing at Wasque, or an adventure to the Cape Poge lighthouse. Or head out towards Katama (a.k.a. South Beach), where you can walk on windswept beaches to the peaceful accompaniment of crashing waves.
Oak Bluffs is often considered laid back, relaxed, and family-friendly, with kid-friendly beaches, plenty of green spaces to run and play, and plenty of ice cream shops to contrast and compare! Home to the whimsical “gingerbread” cottages, America’s oldest carousel, the Flying Horses, and the African American Heritage Trail, Oak Bluffs, is the seasonal port for ferries from Cape Cod, New Bedford, Rhode Island, and New York. Oak Bluffs is also known for its great live music scene, vibrant arts and harbour districts, nightlife, and street festivals.
Tisbury, more widely known as Vineyard Haven, in reference to its year-round working harbour, invites you to treat yourself to a stroll through its cultural district. This walkable mile has something for everyone, from wooden shipbuilding sheds to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, film centre, and Playhouse, plus one-of-a-kind shops, art galleries, restaurants, and historic architecture.
- Originally named by the Wampanoag tribe as Noepe, the island was later named after the daughter of a British explorer in 1602.
- Although there are no vineyards here, we do have two great microbreweries!
Twenty-three thousand of us live here year-round, and that grows to 250,000 in peak season.
- The Vineyard is open year-round, and there’s fun to be had 12 months of the year!
- The Vineyard is roughly 14 kilometres north to south and 38 kilometres east to west, approximately 144 square kilometres total, nearly four times the size of Manhattan! But not to worry, it’s not as hectic here.
- An extensive, year-
round public bus system can easily get you around the entire island.
Visit MVY.COM for everything you need to plan your next visit. Hope to sea you on the island!
Martha’s Vineyard is a picturesque island paradise, just 7 miles off the coast of Massachusetts but a world away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland.