Martha’s Vineyard is a place I have kept in the back of my head that I wanted to visit. I finally got the chance to go and realized I didn’t know all too much about it. Now that I have gone I definitely want to pass on some things to know before you go. This especially holds true if you go in off-season. Hopefully this will help you when planning your trip!
Location- In case you didn’t realize, Martha’s Vineyard is an island located off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It can only be reached by airplane or taking a ferry.
Ferry – There are a few different ferries that run during the summer months (peak season.) From my understanding that can be caught from New York, Rhode Island, and the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts. There is only one ferry that runs year around and that is Steamship Authority. They also take cars and trucks so if you decide to bring yours you can!
Steamship Authority – When going off-season they only leave from Woods Hole, MA and dock at Vineyard Haven in Martha’s Vineyard. They say it takes about 45 minutes, but it was more like 30 to 35 minutes. A roundtrip ticket is $17 per person. Depending on the season and type of car will depend how much it costs to bring it with you. You can leave it in a parking lot in Woods Hole which is about $12 a day and take the free shuttle over to the ferry. Whatever you do a reservation is best, especially in peak season. For more information visit their site!
Car v No Car – I have heard conflicting things. Bringing a car on the island can be a pain for parking reasons. Some people will leave their car or fly in and opt to rent one once on the island. The island also has many bikes paths and buses so you can get around with our a car. Uber is also an option. However especially in the off-season I would recommend a car. Finding parking is a breeze and in the long run it financially makes more sense for us to do so. Plus you have the freedom of movement whenever to wherever.
Driving – There are no traffic lights on the island. The only thing you will find are stop and yield signs. You must also stop for pedestrians. Some roads are also very dark at night because there are no lights so that is something to keep in mind while driving. It is also very easy to find your way around while driving. There are signs all over directing you from town to town.
Public Transportation- There are 6 towns. The fare is $1.25 per town including the town of origin. They can be purchased on the bus or at Steamship Authority. There are also day passes etc. While there on 4 different days I may have seen about 7 or 8 buses go by. May have been because it was off-season or something.
Off Season- I asked a few locals on the island and they said peak season is the summer for obvious reasons. However they said the best time to go into the ocean is July and August because even in June the water is cold. Many businesses are also not open in the off-season. Some where actually opening up a week after leaving. It is also important to call some of the businesses before going to them to see if they are even open. Even then some would have recordings saying they were, but they weren’t. Although many businesses are closed and not many tourists around this is also a great thing. It is almost like having the island to yourself.
Dry Island – Looking for the ultimate turn up? This isn’t really the place. There are no actual nightclubs. Also unless you go to Oak Bluffs or Edgartown you won’t be purchasing alcohol or have it served to you. You will have to go to one of those towns so if you get a hotel or Airbnb elsewhere then purchase your alcohol in those towns before heading back.
Seafood- You can’t go to Martha’s Vineyard and not eat seafood. That is a crime and just blasphemy. There are so many places to get some good seafood. Clam chowder, lobster rolls, and more should be on your list. If seafood isn’t your thing then there are plenty of other tasty things to eat. See all the delicious places we ate!
Franchises- Besides their own dedicated franchise around the island like Vineyard Vines (started in of course Martha’s Vineyard), Sharky’s, a couple of Stop and Shops, a Dairy Queen, and such there are no other big franchises on the island. I saw no Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks (you will be ok), Wendy’s, etc.
I am personally looking forward to going back to Martha’s Vineyard and getting more acquainted with it. It is a beautiful and peaceful place that was greatly enjoyed. I will definitely check it out during peak season.
Have you ever been to Martha’s Vineyard?