Island of Martha's Vineyard & General Information
Island of Martha's Vineyard
Martha's Vineyard, New England's largest resort Island, was formed
by glacial action 10,000 years ago and lies 7 miles off the coast
of Cape Cod, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA. The Island
is roughly triangular-shaped with its base the straight south shore.
It is 9 miles wide and 23 miles long at its furthest points; the
total land area is approximately 100 square miles. Martha's Vineyard
has a total of 124.6 miles of tidal shoreline.
There are six towns on the Island of Martha's Vineyard; three up-island
towns, Aquinnah (formerly known as Gay Head), Chilmark, and West
Tisbury; and three down-Island towns, Vineyard Haven (also known
as Tisbury) Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. The terms "up-Island" and
"down-Island" are nautical terms referring to longitude on a map.
The Island of Martha's Vineyard covers roughly 100 square miles,
and is home to both year-round and seasonal residents. Some live
"up-island" in the more rural towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark (which
includes the unique Menemsha Village) and West Tisbury, and others
live "down-island" in the more populous towns of Edgartown, Oak
Bluffs, and Vineyard Haven (also known as Tisbury). Each Island
town is unique in its geography, personality, and character. All
blend together to create this special place many of us love to call
our home. If possible, take time to visit each of the Island towns
during your visit. More information about each town, along with
more related island information, is available on the MV
Chamber of Commerce site here.
Opening Photo by Charlie Utz
The unspoiled charm
of Martha's Vineyard is probably best exemplified by the many scenic
beaches located here. The beaches vary from protected, shallow,
clear-water stretches on the northern and eastern sides of the Island
to expanses of rumbling surf along the south side.
Some beaches are open to the public without restriction, while others
are reserved for residents and summer visitors who are staying in
the towns where the beaches are located. To use these town beaches,
one needs a parking and/or beach permit. Permits can be obtained
through the local town hall with proof of residency.
Aquinnah Public Beach
Off Moshup Trail. Extends from Philbin Beach to just before the
Cliffs. Ten minute walk from parking lot on cleared trail. Paid
parking only in summer. The Aquinnah Cliffs are a National Landmark
and are seriously endangered by climbing on cliffs or removal of
clay (both prohibited by law).
East Beach (Cape Poge
Wildlife Refuge and Wasque Reservation) On Chappaquiddick. Access
from Dike Bridge and Wasque. Open to all, but subject to the regulations
of The Trustees of Reservations. Fee charged for non-members.
At the bridge between Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven.
Fuller Street Beach
At the end of Fuller Street near Lighthouse Beach in Edgartown.
Beach in Oak Bluffs Photo by Charlie Utz
Sylvia State Beach
Two miles of mild beach along Beach Road between Oak Bluffs and
Edgartown. Owned by the state and maintained by Dukes County. The
Edgartown end of this beach is known as Bend-in-the-Road Beach.
Edgartown has lifeguards in season.
Lake Tashmoo Town Beach
(Herring Creek Beach)
End of Herring Creek Road on Lake Tashmoo in VineyardHaven.
A harbor beach at Starbuck's Neck, off N. Water Street near the
center of Edgartown.
Long Point Wildlife Refuge Beach
Summer access via Waldron's Bottom Road. Winter access via Deep
Bottom Rd. Ocean beach and freshwater swimming in Long Cove Pond.
Beach is open to the public 9 to 5, year-round. There is a parking
fee in the summer. Beach passes and memberships to The Trustees
of Reservations are available.
Menemsha Public Beach
Next to Menemsha Harbor. Gentle beach typical of the north shore.
Three miles of barrier beach on the south shore in Edgartown at
the end of Katama Road. Surf on one side with protected salt pond
on the other.
Oak Bluffs Town Beach
Adjacent to town wharf and Steamship Authority dock.
Owen Park Beach
Harbor beach off Main Street in Vineyard Haven, near business district.
South Beach State Park
One mile between Herring Creek Road and Katama Road. State owned,
managed by Edgartown. Rough surf, lifeguards in season.
Tisbury Town Beach
(Owen Little Way Town Beach)
Owen Little Way, next to the V. H. Yacht Club.
Restricted Town Beaches
Use of these beaches is limited to residents of the respective towns.
Property owners and renters with a copy of their leases can obtain
beach permits through the local Town Hall.
Head of the Pond Beach - Aquinnah (no public parking facilities)
Lambert's Cove Beach - West Tisbury Lobsterville Beach -
Aquinnah (no public parking)
Lucy Vincent Beach - Chilmark
Philbin Beach - Aquinnah
Squibnocket Beach - Chilmark
A number of Land Bank & Trustees of the Reservation properties include
wonderful beach access. These locations often limit use by offering
only a small number of parking spaces and may charge entrance fees.
See the Conservation area of this site for more information on the
many conservation properties on Martha's Vineyard.
The preceding narrative was provided by the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber
of Commerce’s web site www.mvy.com.
Please view this web site for much more information about the island.
Martha's Vineyard Land Bank
Vineyard Island has witnessed unprecedented change in the most recent
decades. Farming declined; centuries-old pastures and fields were
left to knot into vines and shrubs. The "freedom to roam" was curtailed
as fences were erected across trails, beaches were gated off and
hunting was restricted.
Few of these problems could be solved by planning boards and conservation
commissions only; the Vineyard needed a new type of land agency.
In the midst of an upspiraling building boom, island voters created
the land bank in 1986 and charged it with reversing their losses.
Rest of this article here.