Frequently Asked Questions for a Trip to Martha’s Vineyard

Are you planning a visit to Martha’s Vineyard soon? We hope so! There is so much to see and do on this spectacular island making it a great place for anyone to visit. From pristine beaches and wildlife areas to lots of local shopping, fabulous restaurants, and lots of sights to take in you definitely won’t be bored! Take a day trip to the town we dock our ferry in, Oak Bluffs, or venture further into the island and visit any of the 6 towns, they’re all amazing!

Martha's Vineyard BeachAbout Martha’s Vineyard

A little history on the island – The island, originally settled by the Wampanoag native people, was purchased by Thomas Mayhew in 1642 and settled into its colonial era. He was kind to the Wampanoag and careful to honor their land rights. The first settlement on the island was created and named Great Harbor (now Edgartown) in the same year.

Martha’s Vineyard was brought to prominence in the 19th century by the whaling industry, during which ships were sent around the world to hunt whales for their oil and blubber.  After the Old Colony railroad came to mainland Woods Hole in 1872, summer residences began to develop on the island. Although the island struggled financially through the Great Depression, its reputation as a resort for tourists and the wealthy continued to grow. From the 20th century, and continuing through to today, Martha’s Vineyard is mainly a tourism-based economy, a haven for the rich and famous, and a spectacular place to visit!

Black, Deaf, and Native History

There is still a substantial Wampanoag population on the Vineyard, mainly located in the town of Aquinnah. Martha’s Vineyard’s past is steeped in black, deaf, and native history. Edgartown Harbor was named an Underground Railroad site in 2020 by the National Park Service, after The African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard was founded on the island. Their mission is to “continue to research and publish previously undocumented history and to involve the Island community in the identification and celebration of the contributions made by people of color to the island of Martha’s Vineyard.”

Martha’s Vineyard was known as an “everyone signed” community for several hundred years, and many deaf people view Martha’s Vineyard as a utopia. Vineyarders even had their own version of sign language that was used commonly by both deaf and hearing people until the mid-20th century. No language barrier created a smooth communication environment for all the residents on the Island.

Now that you know a little bit about the place you’re visiting, what about some answers to your burning questions about your trip?

How long will the trip to Martha’s Vineyard take? What is the ride like?

On our high-speed ferries, the ride will take about an hour from Hyannis to Oak Bluffs. Our comfortable vessels Lady Martha and Vineyard Lady will whisk you away in style. There is a snack bar onboard, open-air seating if you wish to sit outside, and beautiful views of the ocean and harbors as you cruise from one port to the other.

What are 5 things I should not miss on the island?

  • If you are staying in Oak Bluffs for a day trip, then here are our 5 must-do’s:
  • Gingerbread Cottages in Martha's Vineyard
  • Take a bus tour – these 2-3 hour tours allow you to see all 6 towns and really get a better feel for the layout and vibe of the island.
  • Visit Ocean Park – just steps away from our dock, Ocean Park offers beautiful views of the ocean, is encircled by Victorian-style homes, and is a green grassy area to eat lunch, play games, or just relax.
  • Visit the Camp Meeting Associations Gingerbread Cottages and Tabernacle! It’s iconic.
  • Eat, shop and sightsee your way down the main drag of Oak Bluffs. Circuit Ave is the busy main throughway of Oak Bluffs, and is beautiful to walk and explore!

How should I get around MV?

Well – that depends on where you want to go. On foot, you will probably only get through Oak Bluffs, and the close surrounding beaches. You can bring your bike with you for a nominal fee, or rent one on the island and see much more! Also – you could rent a car or take the very thorough public transportation system they have on the island. Day passes for the Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) are very reasonably priced.

We hope you have found a little bit more information here that you need to help you plan your trip to the Vineyard and learned a little bit more about the island itself.


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