Both islands are beautiful places to visit with rich history and an array of fancy unique inns, shops, and eateries. When making calls you’ll find they share the same area codes. It gets a bit amusing when you discover that most New Englanders vacation either on Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. Very rarely both. A rivalry of sorts.
They have fierce feelings about which is best.
If you’re not a regular, how do you decide which island is best for you? Lets talk size
Nantucket is mostly flat and about 14 miles long, 3½ miles wide, with a year round population of 12,000 and a 55,000 person population come the summer months
Martha’s Vineyard measures 25 miles long , 9 miles wide. It’s larger size means it takes more time to get around be it by foot, bike, car, or bus, there’s just a lot more terrain to explore. The year round population of Martha’s Vineyard 15,000 with approximately 115,000 during the summer months.
Nantucket has one main town, covered with cobbled roads and designated a National Historical District. Its loaded with restaurants and speciality shops. Get a true taste of history from the beautifully kept historic buildings.
It’s also known as The Whaling Capital of the World.
Martha’s Vineyard, has six historical distinct towns, including Aquinnah at the westernmost tip, which houses Gay Head Cliffs, Gay Head Lighthouse and the Lands of the Wampanoag
Oak Bluffs, famous for its Methodist Campground, composed of confetti colored gingerbread cottages. Vineyard Haven is packed with eateries, shops, lovely gardens, houses and is the island’s primary ferry port.
Nantucket 30 miles across the water, is a one hour ferry ride from Cape Cod. Martha’s Vineyard is only a 7 mile 35 minute cruise. Both islands have airports. Cape Air is a great option. Nantucket’s distance gives visitors a sense of isolation and it gets fewer day trippers than Martha’s Vineyard.
Cap Air – Reserve Here –
A trip to Martha’s Vineyard is not complete without a visit to one or more of of its beautiful beaches. There’s a beach for everyone’s taste. Want to surf, windsurf, kiteboard, dip your toes, take your kids, swim, lay on the beach, The island has it all.
The majority of the beaches are near the island towns. Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown are public. They have easy access. There are also Shuttle Buses that can drop you off. Get the perfect accommodations and you can even walk to the ocean’s edge.
Most of the beaches up-island – West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah -are either privately owned or are for the specific town residents. These beaches require permits and/or beach stickers. If you are a renter in one of these towns mentioned, you can apply for a permit at the town halls. Call the Town Hall in the town you are interested in, to get the requirements. West Tisbury, 508-696-0147; Chilmark, 508-645-2100; or Aquinnah, 508-645-2300. The cost is $50 for your entire stay.
Lets look at the public beaches
VINEYARD HAVEN – PUBLIC:
Owen Park Beach – In town off Main St, on the harbor close to the ferry terminal. Great for kids, or an impromptu picnics while waiting for the ferry, and very calm seas for those wanting to take one last dip. An added treat are views of the ferries coming and going as well as several private sailboats and yachts. There are also a few iconic sailing vessels moored in the harbor. Limited parking.
OAK BLUFFS – PUBLIC:
Eastville Point Beach: Located on the Oak Bluffs side of the drawbridge on Beach Rd. Small sandy beach with views of the ferries coming and going from both Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. Great beach to stop at on your bike. Great fishing. No amenities. Limited parking.
Oak Bluffs Town Beach. You can walk to the beach from Town or the ferry port. Sandy beach with calm waters. Great for families. Begins by the Steamship Dock. Back in the day, local children and young tourist alike would dive for coins’ as the people came off the ferry and walked up the dock. The last little strip of beach you can walk towards Edgartown its called Inkwell Beach.
Joseph A. Sylvia State Beach – Public
This is where the motion picture JAWS was filmed
Joseph A. Sylvia State Beach Edgartown. One of the most popular beaches on the Island. The beach is shared by both Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. It has gentle waves, great for families, sunning and swimming.
Public Nantucket Beaches
An easy walk or bike ride from town make it a popular summer spot.
Relaxing family oriented beach with plenty of amusements for the kids. Volleyball nets, Tennis Courts, a Playground, Sailing and Swimming Lessons, and a Skate Park.
It is also great for families with children, the water is shallow and calm and there are changing rooms with showers.
Beach chair and umbrellas rentals are available.
Located in town and across from Steamboat Wharf.
During the summer months, you’ll find family friendly activities like Dance and Yoga for children, Tie-Dye Classes, and a Concert Series.
As the name suggests, shallow harbor waters make this beach perfect for young children.
It’s the island’s most wave free beach.
Walking distance from town.
A nice place to relax and watch the boats passing through the harbor.
No lifeguards on duty with heavy water boat traffic, makes swimming something not recommended.
Artists painting the Brant Point Lighthouse and couples can be found admiring the views.
Don’t forget your camera. The lighthouse is one of the most photographed sites on the island.
After a big storm, experienced surfers on the island rush to Cisco Beach Rip currents can be very strong.
Cisco has a loyal following and is popular with young adults and surfers. It’s also the home to Nantucket’s Best Surf School. Surfboards, Wetsuits, and Stand Up Paddleboards are available to rent.
Open to the Atlantic Ocean, these beaches have large waves and strong currents.This charming beach is a little more difficult to get to than most beaches on the island, hence a very mellow atmosphere.
Early risers looking to catch the gorgeous sunrise are never disappointed.
One of the few places on island where you can see seals.
The pristine beach and Great Point Lighthouse also known as Nantucket Lighthouse, make the long journey worthwhile. The lighthouse sits on the end of a seven-mile strip of sand overlooking the gap between Nantucket and Monomoy Island.
Fishermen all agree Great Point is home to the island’s best fishing.
A beach permit and four-wheel drive are required. A Must See!
We have stayed at The White Elephant Village Residences & Inn several times and can highly recommend a visit. I know with it’s average $1000 a night cost it really doesn’t fit in with the GoCheepNow concept, its definitely worth talking about though.
From the forest of blue hydrangea bushes scattered about, its proximity to Children’s Beach, is just a quarter-mile away, and the private outdoor pool serving up summer snacks like fruit skewers is a thrill of it’s own
For something new, try Greydon House, nicknamed Grey Lady.
It opened last August 2018. It’s a 20-room boutique hotel with overgrown gardens of sea roses and cocktails in copper pineapples. This lovely property averages $350 a Night
Now back to the GoCheepNow Concept. The lowest prices are not found calling the properties directly. They actually, we found are quite a bit lower in most cases, if you reserve through Hotels.com or TripAdvisor
Links Can Be Found Below
Accommodations In Martha’s Vineyard
Our family has stayed in two hotels in Martha’s Vineyard and can highly recommend both establishments. Once again they are not in The GoCheeNow mindset but are beautiful and average $150 to $350 per night
Now back to The GoCheepNow Concept. As stated earlier we found going through TripAdvisor or Hotels.com was quite a bit cheaper than contacting the hotels and inns directly.
The Links Can Be Found Below