A Day Trip to the Island of Martha’s Vineyard

A trip to Cape Cod wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard. The island is actually much larger than most tourists think, so it is necessary to plan your adventure ahead of time!

Getting to Martha’s Vineyard 

If you are staying in or near Woods Hole, the Steamship Authority ferry is the easiest way to travel to the Vineyard. Hop aboard the ferry for an enjoyable 45-minute boat ride to the island. Bikes are welcome for an additional fee and pets travel free of charge.

If you plan on extending your stay on the island and wish to explore it at your own pace, you can bring your car on the ferry for around $200, depending on the size of your vehicle. Spots must be reserved so be sure to inquire about transporting your vehicle by contacting the ferry service prior to your trip. The ferry travels to Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. Travelers must plan their itinerary around their port destination. With only one day to spend, it’s important to prioritize your activities, sights to see and dining spots! 

The Island Queen Ferry, located in Falmouth Harbor on Falmouth Heights Road, provides the most convenient service for visitors staying in the downtown area or greater East Falmouth area. This seasonal ferry brings passengers to the Oak Bluffs Harbor only. Bikes are welcome for an additional $8 fee roundtrip and pets travel free of charge.

Oak Bluffs 

Upon arrival in Oak Bluffs, visitors can stroll down Circuit Avenue to eat, shop and enjoy a ride on the famous Flying Horses Carousel. This carousel, which was originally located in Coney Island, was moved to the Vineyard in 1884 and is now the oldest platform carousel still running in the United States. After the ride, meander through the delightful village of ornate 19th century gingerbread cottages. Be sure to stop by the Offshore Ale Company for lunch and a tasty craft beer.

Regardless of whether the whole day is spent in Oak Bluffs or it is the jumping-off point for your next adventure, don’t forget to indulge in an ice cream cone from Mad Martha’s before returning to the mainland.



For the more adventurous traveler, jeeps and bicycles are available to rent near the Oak Bluffs ferry terminal. Cycling enthusiasts can ride to Edgartown on the beautiful Beach Road bike path connecting Oak Bluffs to Edgartown. This paved six-mile long bike path is entirely flat so it will appeal to cyclists of all levels, including families.

Reenergize with an invigorating dip in the ocean at State Beach, adjacent to the bike path. Once in Edgartown, visitors can choose to explore the shops and eateries of the downtown area or enjoy lunch at the Harbor View Hotel, followed by a walk along the trail to the Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse. A refreshing swim at Lighthouse Beach will prepare you for the biking journey back to Oak Bluffs. 

Vineyard Haven

The Steamship Authority ferry from Woods Hole also brings passengers to Vineyard Haven. Upon arrival to the island, drop by the famous Black Dog Tavern before setting out on your day-long adventure. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner year-round at its beautiful waterfront location. There are several things for visitors to do in town, including the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Founded in 1922, the museum has worked to document the island’s maritime legacy and role in American history. 

Another enjoyable nearby activity is a hike along West Chop Lighthouse, a station located at the entrance of Vineyard Haven Harbor, a few miles from town. There are a variety of trails and beautiful vistas surrounding this historical lighthouse. 

Visitors to Vineyard Haven can catch a public bus to Menemsha to explore Menemsha Hills nature preserve. Hike through wetlands, woods, dunes, and rocky cliffs. Enjoy the stunning panoramic views from the 308-foot Prospect Hill.

Aquinnah Cliffs and Lighthouse

The Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority runs public buses from Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven for sightseers who wish to explore the other side of the island, including the beautiful Aquinnah Cliffs and historic Gay Head Light. These multi-colored clay cliffs, carved by glaciers millions of years ago, will impress even the most seasoned traveler. Explore the lower beach to see the cliffs up close or hike the trails along the top of the cliffs to catch scenic views of the Elizabeth Islands.

Some Additional Adventures to Consider

Manuel F. Correllus State Forest has miles of flat, paved bike trails, accessible by bike paths that connect from Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, or Edgartown. Katama Loop to South Beach, located just outside of Edgartown, is a flat five-mile paved bike path that passes by open fields, wildflowers, farms, and South Beach. 

There are several spectacular beaches located on the southwest side of the island, including Lucy Vincent Beach and Squibnocket Beach. Gaining access to these beaches is nearly impossible, so visitors intent on visiting these special spots must plan a trip in spring or fall. 

Whichever adventure you choose, a day on the island of Martha’s Vineyard offers a variety of activities to please every member of your family!