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Menemsha

With so many things to do in downtown Edgartown, it can be tough to justify straying very far from North Water Street, especially on a shorter visit. Still, if you’re a veteran of these parts or just looking for a change of scenery, a trip up-island is well worth your time. When we say up-island, we mean the western part of Martha’s Vineyard: West Tisbury, Chilmark, Menemsha, and Aquinnah. Confused yet? The phrase “up-island” dates back to our whaling days, when latitude and longitude were crucial for navigation. The further up-island you go, the higher your coordinate of longitude.

 

Gayhead Light Atop The Aquinnah Cliffs

Getting Up-Island from Edgartown

We’ll admit that heading up-island takes a bit more planning and travel time than a stroll to Edgartown Lighthouse, but, trust us — the extra effort pays off. These smaller towns run at a slower pace, with natural scenery as their main focal point. For a quick ride out of town, your best bet is to check out the Vineyard Transit Authority bus schedule — day passes are inexpensive, and buses run regularly from town to town all day during the summer. For total freedom at a higher price, you can charter your own Stagecoach Taxi for your person tour-de-island. Guests can always stop by the front desk for personalized help planning a day up-island.

 

There’s a lot of ground to cover over in those parts, but we consider these up-island attractions essential:

 

West Tisbury

A perfect stop on the way to or from the island’s western tip, West Tisbury’s limits reach the shore both north and south of downtown, covering a huge swath of central-western Martha’s Vineyard. With the people here scattered few and far between, this hamlet provides the perfect opportunity for a meandering stroll through nature.  Just outside the village lies the 70-acre Polly Hill Arboretum, where tree species from around the world thrive amidst beautiful stone walls and meadowlands. Split your outdoor time between the Arboretum and the Field Gallery, whose whimsical sculptures live in harmony with a green landscape.menemsha beach light guard stand

 

Menemsha

For hundreds of years, the island’s freshest catches have been arriving daily from the tiny fishing village of Menemsha. Larsen’s Fish Market menu has all the classics cooked to order from clam chowder and lobster to stuffed scallops. Visit for lunch or stop by mid-afternoon to avoid the evening rush that accompanies Menemsha’s famous sunsets. A walk around this sand-swept town promises rewards in the form of lesser-known storefronts, ocean views, and solitude.

 

Chilmark

Chilmark chocolates sign on Martha's VineyardJust southeast of Menemsha, Chilmark is the place to stock up on farm-fresh up-island produce and treats. Chilmark Chocolates make a sweet gift (if you can resist eating them yourself), and the Chilmark General Store serves up top-notch breakfast sandwiches and gourmet pizza with seating on their covered porch. Expect a fair amount of company at both places — they’ve earned the fuss.

 

Aquinnah

Home to the famed Gay Head Lighthouse, Aquinnah marks the westernmost tip of Martha’s Vineyard. You’ve probably seen photos of this historic beacon atop copper-colored clay bluffs, but a camera just can’t do it justice. The shoreline changes constantly with the tides—so much so that the lighthouse has actually been moved back from its more precarious original location.

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown

March-May 2010 078-resized-600

Fall is digging in its heels here on Martha’s Vineyard. The weather has cooled, pumpkins abound, and many stores and restaurants have started to cut back their hours. One of my favorite island past times is still going strong for a couple more weeks, though. According to many, the best restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard is on the back docks at Larsen’s in Menemsha. They have no crystal or linens, and service is limited to someone yelling your name out of the back window. Sometimes it’s even a little buggy and smelly; but they have an abundance of fresh air, delicious fresh seafood that tastes twice as good when eaten with the fingers, delightful people to meet and get to know, stunning sunsets, and always a certain amount of “entertainment”.

For instance, one evening this summer, a friend and I patiently watched, for 15 or 20 minutes, a young man with an impressive camera arrange and then rearrange his lobster dinner on the edge of the dock until he got just the shot he was looking for. When he noticed our interest in his activities, he explained he was a freelance photographer who would shoot food photos and send them into culinary publications in hopes they would buy his work.

Another afternoon, a group of Karate enthusiasts, all decked out in their white robes and black belts, lined up single file on the dock, their lobsters placed in front of them, and asked me to take a group picture. It was great.

Most recently, with the Derby winding down, a very confident man unfolded a chair on the edge of the dock right in front of us and cast his line out into the harbor. His wife and travelling companions explained that a few years ago this fisherman had caught a record-breaking bass from that very spot and was determined that it could happen again. This time, not only didn’t he hook anything, but every time he would cast out his line, an equally determined seagull would swoop down and steal his bait right off it. He had a lot of fun though, and so did we.

Although the sunsets are bigger and longer and more vibrantly glorious than ever, it is getting a bit chilly on the Menemsha docks.  Last week, my steamers were cold before I could finish them, but it didn’t dampen the experience, and I will be faithful to Larsen’s until the door is closed and locked, then count the days until next spring when they unlock and the thought of fresh lobster and steamers beckons me to the docks again.

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown