Here is a run down of the top beaches on Martha’s Vineyard, take your pick, they are all amazing. Edgartown and Oak Bluffs have the most accessible public beaches, if you are planning your vacay and want to be near the beach, plan to stay in one of these two towns.
The best all around beach on Martha’s Vineyard is South Beach, 3 miles outside of Edgartown. South beach is accessible by both bus and bike route. It is a beautiful white sand beach with moderate waves. Classic New England and one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. There is a one mile stretch of the beach (along Atlantic Drive), that has lifeguards and facilities (port-a-potties). You can access additional (less crowded) parts of the beach, if you buy an oversand permit for your SUV. The waves and currents can be strong at south beach, so this is not always the best beach for young kids. We usually bring a big shovel and dig a mini kiddie pool up from the shore break to give our toddlers a place to play in the water. For bigger kids, bring the boogie boards, the waves are awesome. There are no places to buy food/beverages near the beach, so stock up on picnic supplies at the Katama General Store on your way out, or visit the Right Fork Diner for lunch and watch the old planes take off and land (about 1 mile away on Herring Creek Road).
The best beach for families with young children is State Beach. The 2 mile stretch between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs is known as State Beach. The mild “waves” make State Beach a fan favorite of the young kids. There is a lifeguard stand at the “bend in the road” near Edgartown, but otherwise, there are no lifeguards or bathrooms on the rest of the beach. For the older kids, try jumping off the JAWS Bridge (the bridge closer to Edgartown). This is also where the bus drops off and often there is a small food truck here selling ice cream, chips, and drinks and renting kayaks. Otherwise there is no place to buy food/refreshments at the beach, so pick something up in town before you go; In Edgartown, try Humphreys for classic sandwiches or Rosewater for more gourmet sandwiches/salads. In Oak Bluffs, try Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches for great classic sandwiches (on Circuit Ave).
Cape Pogue Beach
As part of the Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge, this beach is a little harder to get to (and thus not very crowded). This beach is an extension of South Beach, but on the Chappaquiddick side; as such, it is a beautiful white sand beach with larger waves/stronger current. The sand is larger grain sand, so not great for building sand castles (ours kept collapsing), but great for playing games, searching for shells or Wampum, and spending an afternoon enjoying the sun. This beach also offers great fishing opportunities. To get to Cape Pogue, take the ferry to Chappaquiddick from Edgartown (a fun experience for most kids in and of itself) and drive/bike the four miles to the Cape Pogue Parking lot. Be warned the walk to the beach from the parking lot is almost half a mile, it doesn’t seem that far when you are walking it, but if you have young kids (or too much beach stuff) it may be more challenging. There are no places on Chappaquiddick to buy food, so get picnic supplies in Edgartown, before taking the ferry over. Bonus: Take a side trip to Mytoi (a relaxing Japanese style garden half a mile before the beach parking lot) or take a guided tour to the Cape Pogue Lighthouse (more info on the Trustees website).
Fuller Street Beach & Edgartown Lighthouse
Just North of the main part of Edgartown, Fuller Street Beach is super convenient if you are staying in town (walk out the path in front of the Harborview Hotel, or walk to the end of Fuller Street to access the beach). The waves are calm and it doesn’t tend to get too crowded, but the beach/water can be a little rocky, so bring your water shoes. There are no lifeguards or bathrooms at this beach. Bonus: Check out the views of the harbor from the lighthouse when you are done in the sun. (Open from 10AM-5PM $5 for adults)
Aquinnah Public Beach
At the foot of the Gay Head Cliffs, Aquinnah beach is stunningly beautiful. If you are looking to get away from the crowds, Aquinnah is the place to go. Aquinnah is “Up Island”, which is a good drive from any of the major towns, and as such, it is much less crowded. Bathrooms are available at the parking lot; you can pick up some lunch supplies at the Aquinnah Cliffs lookout. If you are looking for the best spot on the island for a sunset stroll, this is it. Bonus: Checkout the views from the lighthouse when you are done in the sun.
Also Up Island is the Menemsha Town Beach; Menemsha is a small peaceful little fishing town and the beach is equally peaceful. Listening to the gentle bell ringing of the boat buoys and watching the fishing boats enter and leave the dock is the big attraction here. The beach itself is lovely, but relatively small and the water is super rocky, so bring water shoes for your comfort. The beach has lifeguards, bathrooms, and is a short walk from lunch options. For lunch check out The Galley for one of the best lobster rolls on the island (an entire claw in each roll, no mayo!), they have a great back deck that you can watch the fishing boats from or try Beetlebung for your morning caffeine fix.
Oak Bluffs Town Beach
Right next to downtown Oak Bluffs in front of the Band Stand Park; the Town Beach is super convenient if you just took the ferry over for a day trip and don’t have a car. Watch the ferry coming in and out and enjoy the easy access to town for grabbing lunch or a quick ride on the Flying Horses when you have had too much sun. This beach has mild waves and lifeguards, but is pretty small, so can get crowded.
There are some other smaller public beaches on the vineyard (ie. Lobsterville, Lake Tashmoo, etc.), but the above ones, are the the best public beaches that Martha’s Vineyard has to choose from. There are also some “resident only” beaches like Lambert’s Cove and Lucy Vincent that are magnificent. If you have access to those, congrats! Have a great trip and please share any of your favs in the comments!
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