Martha’s Vineyard has about 125 miles of shoreline, but not all of its beaches are accessible to visitors. Some of the best are only open to community residents – nice if you can afford to rent a summer home in Chilmark or West Tisbury. Your best bet? Aquinnah Public Beach (also called Moshup Beach) a ten-minute walk from the parking lot at Gay Head. Given the $15 daily parking fee in summer, it’s better to arrive by bike.
Hundreds of preserved acres encompassing forest, field, and shore offer a feast for hikers – literally. In season, join in the blueberry and huckleberry picking at Fulling Mill Brook Preserve at Chilmark and at the Caroline Tuthill Wildlife Preserve in Edgartown. For a look at the natural New England of times past, head for the Cedar Creek Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in West Tisbury, where marked trails lead through about 250 acres of woodland, complete with ponds and streams, to a beach with a view of the Elizabeth Islands.
A stroll along the sidewalks of Edgartown leads visitors back in time, past homes and churches dating to the mid-1800s, when prosperous whaling captains built the stately houses that have since been captured in architecture textbooks. Some of these Greek Revival, Colonial, and Federal-style structures, including the Old Whaling Church and the Fisher House, are owned by the island’s preservation trust and are open for tours.