Martha's Vineyard Photo Contest, Christmas in Edgartown

The island of Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful island with so much to see and do it’s no wonder it is a popular destination. 

Have you ever wondered why it’s called Martha’s Vineyard? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Hy-Line has a long history ferrying to the island, and we know a bit about its history. Martha’s Vineyard was named so in 1602 when British sailor Bartholomew Gosnold arrived and named it after his daughter Martha and the abundance of viny overgrowth that took over the island. Sadly, there are no Vineyards on the island, and Martha Gosnold never actually lived on Martha’s Vineyard. Originally, it was inhabited by the Wampanoag Native American people who named it “Noepe” or “land between the streams.” 

Read on to answer all your other burning MV questions.

Where is Martha’s Vineyard?

Simply called The Vineyard by locals and frequent visitors, Martha’s Vineyard is 40 miles off the southern coast of Cape Cod. Only an hour away on our high-speed ferry, Martha’s Vineyard is twice the size of her sister island, Nantucket, at almost 100 square miles. Where Nantucket is mostly flat and sandy, Martha’s Vineyard has woods, fields, hillsides, and the breathtaking Aquinnah Cliffs. Along with its natural beauty, the island also boasts delicious, fresh seafood, hundreds of great shops, farmers markets, and local events galore. Getting 40 miles out to see might just lead to the perfect trip!

How do you get to Martha’s Vineyard?

By boat! Martha’s Vineyard is only accessible by sea or by air. We are the only mid-cape departure, and we can get you to the Vineyard from Nantucket, too! Visit our Martha’s Vineyard Ferry Schedule page to book your reservation and cruise on over. We can’t wait to take you there!

Where to stay on Martha’s Vineyard

To answer that, we should first explain the layout of the island. Martha’s Vineyard is a larger island, consisting of six towns with magnificent coastlines. The six towns of the island retain their own character and style. The “down island” towns of Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown are shopping havens with attractions and restaurants to suit every taste. The “up island” towns of Menemsha, Chilmark and Aquinnah are quaint, quiet places reminiscent of the island’s maritime past. 

In each town there are plenty of options including hotels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, vacation rentals, and even houseboat rentals for those looking for a really unique experience. A really good resource for an extensive list of options is the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber website where you can search by type of accommodation and also by town. 

Where you stay is really dependent on what type of trip you’re looking to take, but there is definitely something to suit everyone’s tastes on this amazing island!

What to do on Martha’s Vineyard

The question really is what isn’t there to do?!? If you’re staying for a few nights, you’ll want to take the time to really explore every town and its unique atmosphere and attractions. All of them have amazing natural beauty, wonderful food, and fun things to do. The beaches on Martha’s Vineyard are unmatched, and there is amazing shopping, history and fun for all ages around every corner. 

If you’re coming for the day, there is plenty to do within a short walking distance from the boat. Oak Bluffs, the town our ferry docks in, offers colorful gingerbread cottages and the tabernacle of Camp Meeting Association, the serenity of Ocean Park with views of the Atlantic Ocean, and a busy main street full of restaurants, ice cream and candy stores, and shops full of anything you could possibly want or need. The town is also home to the Flying Horses Carousel, the oldest working platform carousel in the country, which is a must-see. Try your luck at grabbing the brass ring for a free ride!

For more suggestions check out our blog post 5 Martha’s Vineyard Must Dos