The problem with Martha’s Vineyard is that it becomes very familiar very quickly. From the very first moment you set foot on the island, you know you have come to a sort of heaven on earth, where everybody is friendly, the houses seem to have come out of a 1950s movies and the seafood can’t get any fresher.
We just spent a week into one of the most wonderful islands in the States: Martha’s Vineyard. And let me tell you: we LOVED it.
In this post, you will find my top five of things to do on the island, and a bonus consideration at the end – which made me and Mr. Brit laugh out loud one night, while we were on the little terrace of our house, looking at the ocean, with a beer in hand.
- STAY IN OAK BLUFFS
There are about 6 towns on Martha’s Vineyard. I say “about” because really two of them are the ones you want to visit and enjoy during your stay. I’m talking about Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, the first one definitely being my favorite. Oak Bluffs is a little gem of a coastal town, with a wide array of things to see and do, and a high street that sports many restaurants, bars and little shops. Residents refer to it as the honky-tonk town, the more rowdy of the two (Oak Bluffs VS Edgartown that is) — and I have to admit, with the nightlife scene and the colorful gingerbread houses, Oak Bluffs definitely deserves to be called that. The major thing to do is to visit the Camp Meeting Association, a conglomerate of houses that are referred to as “the gingerbread houses” because they do look like one. Take a stroll down the little alleyways and get your camera ready: you won’t be disappointed.
2. VISIT EDGARTOWN
Edgartown is the more polished of the two towns. The vibe is different. Everybody seems extremely rich and wealthy, and out of one of those American tv shows, where they all gather to have cocktails at the Country Club (in fact, there are a couple of Country Clubs on the island, where the Clintons and the Obamas go.) This difference is mainly due to the fact that while Oak Bluffs was home to the servants of the wealthier people living in the Cape, Edgartown was where the richer whaler captains established themselves. The houses are all white and shiny, the gardens very much manicured. The town definitely is worth a visit and a drink, but be ready to pay premium prices for what will seem to be a very glossy-magazine, almost fake experience (which will also leave you wonder why you actually didn’t dress up a bit to go for this stroll.)
3. THE FOOD MUST-HAVES: BACK DOOR DONUTS AND LOBSTER ROLLS
When in Martha’s Vineyard, one absolutely can’t miss the lobster roll. Amazingly delicious, served warm or cold, on a very buttery bun, with a side of cole slaw. We had one at Nancy’s, in Oak Bluff, and one at Noman’s, on the way from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown. It really doesn’t get any fresher than that.
The other must-have food to have (if you don’t count the lobster ice cream, which we decided we didn’t actually have the stomach for…) is a donut from Back Door Donuts in Oak Bluffs. The peculiarity of this place is that on Wednesdays night (7PM-11PM) they open the back door of the bakery and they sell freshly fried donuts to a very long line of people waiting (and salivating.) Basically it seemed like the whole island population was there that night. We got the Boston Cream and the Apple Cinnamon Sugar ones, and they were to die for.
4. TAKE A SWIM ON SOUTH BEACH AND A DIVE ONTO THE “JAWS” BRIDGE
Being an island jammed packed with tourists (all wearing masks though!) during the summer, you really can’t go wrong with any beach you choose to frequent. However, for a spectacular, relaxing and amazing experience, head to South Beach, which sports miles and miles of white sand and clean, crisp and a touch cold water. The funny part is that this beach is also home to a couple of seals, which sometimes bobble their heads up while you are swimming, making you think that “Oh My God it’s a shark I’m going to die now.” Yes, because the other thing about Martha’s Vineyard is that it was the set of Steven Spielberg acclaimed movie “Jaws.”
You can imagine how that made me feel — i.e. I went into the water just enough to get a refresher, and not more than that, especially after we had the brilliant idea to watch the movie while we were on holiday (because “We watched Casablanca while in Casablanca drinking a Casablanca beer, we need to watch Jaws in Martha’s Vineyard while drinking a Narragansett beer” ordered Mr. Brit.) One thing was for sure: I was never going to jump off the Jaws bridge anyway, like all the teenagers seemed to be doing over and over again. Not even if they’d paid me a million dollars.
5. TAKE A WALK IN NATURE
There are plenty of state forests and parks on the island for whomever is not a beach goer and more of a nature lover. We walked all the trails (and when I say ALL, I do mean ALL) of the Caroline Tuthill Wildlife Preserve, to get a bit of a break from the sun and breathe some fresh, forest-y like air. If you feel a bit more adventurous, try the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, which I’d recommend it’s something you don’t do on your own and not in the dark, because it’s basically, umm, a forest. Like, a real one. Where you can get lost very easily.
BONUS CONSIDERATION: As I was saying, the last night of our holiday, Mr. Brit and I were chatting on our terrace and we conveyed that we absolutely loved Martha’s Vineyard. We also conveyed that we loved it so much because it looked like a European town. Four thousand kilometers, a car, a ferry and a little walk later, just to be sitting there, longing for good ol’ Europe.
[Amused looks, little laugh, hands to foreheads. Camera panning out. Cut. Close. The end.]