Guest Post: MV101 – Intro to an Island Vacation

by Rick Conti

Class, welcome to MV101.  In this course you will learn the fundamentals of a Martha’s Vineyard vacation.  Pay close attention and take copious notes.  There will be a test upon completion of the course.

Oak Bluffs’ gingerbread houses are a must for any first-time Martha’s Vineyard visitor.

First, it’s important to understand that Martha’s Vineyard is an island.  (Say it with me, “island”.)  You can’t drive to it.  Practical jokes notwithstanding, there is no tunnel or bridge to take you there.  You must arrive by boat or, if you have the wherewithal or are a sitting president, by plane.

When you are hungry, do not – I repeat, do not – go looking for McDonald’s, Applebee’s, Chuck E. Cheese’s, or any other of that ilk.  You won’t find them.  Even if you could locate one of those beasts, it would be in very bad taste (quite literally) to patronize them.  Martha’s Vineyard specializes in real food.  Good food.  Leave the chains where they belong: on the mainland or on your snow tires.

The preferred method of transportation on the Vineyard is the VTA, or Vineyard Transit Authority.  You can get anywhere on the island for a reasonable price, especially if you purchase a multi-day pass.  You can also rent a moped if you want to annoy drivers and immediately identify yourself as el tourista. (Not recommended.  Points will be deducted.)

For a more leisurely pace and healthful experience, bicycles are an excellent alternative.  You can bring your own over on the boat (see “island” above) or rent one at any number of convenient shops.  The bike path system is superb, offering plenty of safe, off-the-road routes to a variety of island destinations.

Speaking of destinations, you will need to take in all of the following sights if you are to have a true neophyte’s MV vacation:

  1. The Flying Horses
  2. The Gingerbread Houses, a.k.a. Methodist Campground, a.k.a. MV Camp Meeting Association
  3. Sunset on Menemsha Beach
  4. South Beach
  5. Gay Head
  6. The Jaws Bridge

[Note: More advanced activities will be explored in detail in the follow-on class to this one: MV102, for which this class is a prerequisite.]


While a day trip is a perfectly acceptable way to get a cursory view of the island, it is strongly recommended that several days be set aside for the complete “MV Experience”©.  (Extra credit – and extra enjoyment – will be granted to those who stay at Vineyard Square Hotel and Suites, sponsors of this session.  No fee has been a paid for this promotional announcement.)

Finally, a long walk is a required project for this class.  The following locations will be accepted as fulfilling this requirement:

  1. Mytoi gardens on Chappaquiddick
  2. Polly Hill Arboretum
  3. Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary
  4. Any beach

There are many other possible walking trails, but they are recommended only for our more advanced students.

Now it’s time for your test: Grab a ferry and visit.

Good luck.


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