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The Trustees of Reservations

When the weather is nice enough to merit a visit to the beach, prepare yourself for a vast number of choices:  this island has over 125 miles of coastline. Don’t let the sheer amount of options leave you feeling underwater, though.  When it comes to Martha’s Vineyard beaches, there’s plenty to go around and lots of different atmospheres to enjoy.

 

South Beach, Martha's Vineyard
South Beach on Martha’s Vineyard | Photo: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism via flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

South Beach (Edgartown)

If you enjoy people watching and don’t mind being around a crowd, South Beach is sure to please. This slice of sandy paradise is on the Atlantic coast, just south of Edgartown (it’s also our main beach).  Lifeguards are on duty July and August, but caution is always advised as the surf can be quite rough and take you by surprise (especially important to remember for kiddos in tow).  South Beach is popular with younger visitors and residents of the Island, so if you’re under 30, this is the place to hang (or if you’re over 30 and want to pretend, that works too).  If people watching isn’t your thing, there’s always sandcastle building! South Beach is such a great spot for constructing architectural masterpieces that the Edgartown Board of Trade now sponsors a Sand Sculpting contest each August, so grab a pail and shovel and get practicing!

 

State Beach (Edgartown/Oak Bluffs)

For a quieter pace, with lifeguards and excellent swimming, head to State Beach. It’s accessible by bike path and located between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. It’s a great choice for family visits, as there’s always kids building sandcastles, splashing, and generally raising a ruckus.  The water here is calm enough that the local kids even have their swimming lessons here.

 

Lighthouse Beach (Edgartown)

Edgartown Lighthouse - Martha's Vineyard
Lighthouse Beach in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard

If you want to hunker down and read in peace and quiet, bring your bookish bundle to Lighthouse Beach in Edgartown.  As the name suggests, it’s just beside the lighthouse.  The fact that there is very little parking means that this beach is generally quite quiet and it’s really nice to watch the sailboats glide in and out of the harbor. It’s only a few minutes walk from our front door, so it is very convenient but remarkably underused.

 

Chappaquiddick Beaches

Get your steps in and experience true peace and quiet on a journey to our neighboring island of Chappaquiddick.  The beaches here are pristine but require a bit more legwork than the average sandy spot. Just make sure you prepare in advance — there are no stores over on Chappy, so pack a lunch to enjoy on-the-go!

 

Can’t decide which Martha’s Vineyard beaches to visit during your trip? Don’t be shy — swing by our front desk and we’ll tell you all about the up-Island gems and down-Island coves.

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

long point wildlife refuge-resized-600

My family has been vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard for so long, it seems as if we’ve done all there is to do and seen all there is to see.  This summer we put that myth to rest.

For an island of only 87 square miles, the Vineyard is home to an amazing variety of landscapes, living spaces, and ecosystems.  At my wife’s suggestion, we went exploring via kayak one such area we had never set eyes on before: Long Point Wildlife Refuge.

Long Point is managed by The Trustees of Reservations. The Trustees manage dozens of spectacular properties all over Massachusetts.  Long Point is one of several on the Vineyard.  For a reasonable fee (especially for those who are members of the Trustees) we joined a kayak tour with several other people to explore this Undiscovered (to us) Country.

Our two hour voyage took place on Tisbury Great Pond, located on the south coast of the island.  Our group was led by a young man named Guillermo.  He was personable, knowledgeable, helpful, and more than patient with those of us who were kayak-challenged.

The only negative aspect of the trip turned out to be a benefit of sorts.  Our entire tour took place under the cloak of a fog that made anything more than fifty feet away look otherworldly and those over one hundred feet mere objects of our imagination.  It was a real impetus to stay as close as possible to Guillermo’s lead kayak.

Though we could not see the sights that were distant in that near dream world, we could see the birds and sea life that were nearby, and there was plenty of that.  We also learned a lot about the earliest native inhabitants of the area.  The blessing of the fog was that we were protected from a hot sun that we knew was somewhere beyond the misty shroud.  The exertion of paddling kept us plenty warm.

At one point we disembarked on the narrow beach that separates the pond from the ocean.  With the serene pond on one side and the turbulent waters of the Atlantic on the other, all lit by the ethereal glow of daylight in disguise, our intrepid band was energized and moved.

While the trip was a first for us, it will not be the last.  I want to go back to see what was beyond the fog!  We were also inspired to explore other unfamiliar Island locales. I doubt we will ever exhaust the possibilities of our vacation home.

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

Cape-PogeI have developed a routine. Not so shocking for those of you who know me. Each afternoon or early evening, I’ll pack up my daughter into the backpack and we will walk to the harbor. We will feed the swan, should he appear and watch the boats.

“Boats! Boats, boats, boats!” she chirps in my ear as we approach the water. Anyone with a toddler knows the lure of different vehicles.

I used to think “Chappy Ferry…most boring job on the Island! 500 feet, one minute to cross, BAH!

With my little girl looking on so eagerly, I have started to watch more closely and I have to say that it is trickier than I thought.

Storms in the spring of 2007 ripped a hole in the beach that connects Chappaquiddick to the Vineyard. Rumor has it that ‘Chappaquiddick’ means ‘sometimes an island’. Storms in March 2008 ripped a second breach as well and the constant current through the harbor has caused further erosion.

The Breach has changed the ways the tide flows, caused rip tides, and eddies (which are apparently great, tricky swirly bits.) (You probably couldn’t tell until now, but I am not a boater…)

My new opinion just from watching them with a toddler: Phew! Wouldn’t want to be Captain Wells! They load fast, cars and people, take off and have to turn 90 degrees and slide across the current. If they don’t the current pushes them off course a few hundred feet.

It was busy enough coming and going off Chappaquiddick on Friday that they started running TWO boats. That was fun to watch. Two boats, crossing each other in the current. A Watery Dance of Death. (Except that these people know what they are doing and no one was at risk in any way.)

There are no shops or restaurants on Chappy so what do we send the Colonial Inn guests over there to do? The Trustees of Reservations have a great series of guided and self-guided tours. Kayak or canoe trips, four-wheel drive over sand trips to the last lonely little lighthouse at Cape Poge are available with reservations.

The Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, the Mytoi Japanese Gardens and the Wasque Reservationare all worth the trip over.

Yes, there is a bridge. No, it’s not the same one. There’s nothing to “see” there. Just enjoy the trip and nature’s beauty!

Image courtesy of The Trustees of Reservations

 

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

kids-rainConsidering the total amount of rainfall on the Vineyard this June, I’m hoping that the subject of this blog will soon be moot. However, my car mechanic tells me he remembers a Vineyard summer one year that never happened.  So, just in case…

Imagine you are finally here, under the roof you paid for three months ago and looked forward to with such gleeful anticipation, but it is the third day of rain, and if you hear ”Mom, what can we do?” one more time, you are going to go jump off Big Bridge at the state beach and continue swimming out to sea. Or maybe you happen to have a little one who, for some reason, just doesn’t like sand between her toes. Do not despair. There is life beyond the beach for our younger visitors and peace of mind for their parents.

I’ll start right here in Edgartown. Have a real farm experience, complete with crops and livestock at the Farm Institute in Katama. Visit as a family or sign the kids up for one of the Children’s Programs, for ages 2 – 17.

Every week, the Edgartown Library on North Water Street has Toddler Time for ages 1 – 4, and Story Hour for 3 – 5 year olds.  They also offer special events, such as learning the phases of the moon using Oreo cookies or the Bear’s Picnic, that you can bring your favorite stuffed pal to.

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum has Kid’s Arts and Crafts each week and also have special events, like Archaeology for Kids.

If the rain lets up a little in the evening, grab everyone and go on the MV Trustees of Reservations (Not-So-Creepy) Creatures of the Night Family Hike.

And that’s just Edgartown. Featherstone Gallery in Oak Bluffs has Children’s Artsweekdays from 2 to 5 PM. There is also Children’s Art daily at the Stone Gallery in West Tisbury. The Vineyard Playhouse’s Summer Stars Theater and Art Camp in Vineyard Haven is a favorite of 9 -14 year olds, and The Yard in Chilmark offers Creative Theater, Music and Movement. And don’t forget the MV Adventure Camp or tennis lessons at theVineyard Tennis Center. I could go on and on.

So don’t let a little drizzle put a damper on your family vacation. By the time the sun comes out again, you and the kids will be totally exhausted from all these activities and ready for a lazy day on the beach 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

Fed up with the rain? Me too! I am hard-pressed to remember a spring so chilly and dank. Looking in my closet for yet another sweater to wear, I wonder if the sundresses and sandals will see the light of day this year. But then I gaze out my windows, and if I can force myself to focus beyond the moss growing on the deck railing, I can’t help but notice that the yard has rarely looked so lush and healthy. And so it is all over Martha’s Vineyard. So instead of moping around indoors, letting mildew accumulate behind your ears, pull on your wellingtons, grab an umbrella, spit back in Mother Nature’s face, and treat yourself to a Vineyard getaway to admire just what she has brought us.

Although I’d be flattered to have you drive by my modest plot of land and comment on how lovely the peonies and roses are, many more satisfying vistas are available to you. First, put yourself in nature’s beauty at the Polly Hill Arboretum in West Tisbury. Feeling gloomy while surrounded by 20 acres of magical plants, trees, and shrubs is nearly impossible. They are open daily from 9:30 AM to 4 PM, and offer tours at 2 PM.

For a peaceful afternoon, hop aboard the On Time Ferry in Edgartown and head to Chappaquiddick, where you will find Mytoi, a delightful Japanese-style garden nestled within an open pine forest. I guarantee you’ll feel your blood pressure drop while strolling around this gem of tranquility. It is open daily, sunrise to sunset.

And since you are already enjoying Chappy’s gifts, linger a little longer and visit the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge or Wasque, both havens of indigenous seashore growths of the northeast. Just driving place to place, you will notice the extra lushness and height of the seagrass and bountiful white and magenta blooms weighing down the rosa rugosa.

By this time, you’ll be pretty damp and ready for a mug of hot cocoa or, better yet, a hot toddy. Park the car back in Edgartown, and on your stroll to the nearest pub, notice the profusion of cottage roses beginning to pop and the abundant, heavy buds on the hydrangeas that will follow close behind. Yes, it is going to be a gorgeous summer (eventually), and you will not only have cheered yourself up, but also have gotten a very special preview of what’s right around some dryer corner.

Image courtesy of The Trustees of Reservations

 

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