Things to Do in Martha's Vineyard

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Ode to South Beach – My Beach, Right or Wrong!

BY RICK | 06 August 2009

wasqueSouth Beach is anything but cool. It’s crowded, cacophonous and constantly in motion. To be really cool, you’ve gotta be seen at Lucy Vincent, Wasque, Moshup or one of the other more exclusive spots. But exclusivity is the problem for me. I don’t want to have to be a resident, I don’t want to have to take a boat (ferry) to the beach and I sure as shootin’ don’t want to pay!

Beaches should be a populist affair. Liberty and justice, everyone created equal, power to the people, all for one and one for all and all that. South Beach fits that bill to a capital “T”. The ocean there is no respecter of persons. The waves at Katama (a.k.a. South Beach) will slap you around mercilessly, be you pauper or prince, president or peon. When it dunks you under, it doesn’t ask first if you’re a year-rounder, a Yankee fan or a Cabot.

Just a few miles from downtown Edgartown, there is no fee for parking, although you might have to fight for your vehicle’s place in the sun. The bike path leads right up to the sand. Life guards in classic bright red. Kites in the sky chasing sight-seeing biplanes and gliders. Entire families embroiled in full contact Frisbee battles. Every shape, size and color of sun-bather. This is the real deal!

Yet, South Beach does have its touches of gentility as well. The houses overlooking the sea from the far side of Atlantic Drive are nothing short of awe-inspiring. And the porta-potties are really first rate. These are not your run-of-the-mill construction site denizens. These beauties set the standard for functionality and cleanliness. (OK, maybe I’ve gone too far with that one.)

Actually, it’s the surf that does it for me. South Beach has the most awesome surf (or “waves of the sea” as my kids called them when they were little). I don’t even have to get in it. (Sometimes, I prefer not to!) I just have to watch it, breakers eternally rushing in then sliding back into their own oncoming successors. No, I just have to hear it. The crashing surf is a natural symphony to my ears, with its own fascinatin’ rhythm and melody. It’s truly a rhapsody in blue, green and many other hues as well.

So there you have it. Take your Lambert’s Cove and your wildlife refuges. The life at Katama is wild enough for me! Give me liberty or give me… Well, give me South Beach and I’ll be happy.

Image courtesy of Trustees of Reservations


November 14, 2009 09:23 am

Great post — especially with regard to beach access. I’ve been coming to Martha’s Vineyard off-season and during the summer with my husband and kids for more than 15 years, and for the last four years we’ve co-owned a Vineyard Haven house with friends. All of us love the Vineyard and strive to be a part of the community and not just “summer people”. We’ve done beach cleanups, helped at the Ag Fair, supported the Skate Park and WMVY Radio, strive to be good neighbors, etc. It kills me that beautiful beaches like Lambert’s Cove and Lucy Vincent are restricted to town residents. I can understand parking being restricted, but not general beach access (even for a nominal fee). This is truly a crime. Anyone should be able to simply walk on these beaches without a problem — especially if any amount of our hard-earned state or federal tax dollars are being used to support the towns in any way. My kids are also confused by the whole issue. “Mommy — doesn’t the beach belong to everyone?” “Why aren’t we allowed to even swim there?” It’s not easy explaining the archaic Massachusetts law and related beach access issues to my 16-year-old, let alone my 12-year-old and 8-year-old. Heck, I still don’t get it all myself — it’s absolutely ridiculous. My husband is a Massachusetts native, but I grew up on the Jersey Shore and it’s not much better there. At least in NJ anyone can buy a relatively inexpensive beach pass for the day until they’re all sold out. The funds raised help to cover lifeguard wages and beach maintenance costs (which I’d imagine MV towns would find attractive during the current budget crunch). Thankfully, as you noted, there are places like South Beach that give folks a great place to go for the day. And a huge hats off to organizations like the Land Bank and Trustees of the Reservations for working tirelessly to provide us with the ability to enjoy so many of the island’s most beautiful beaches!