Island Information

Martha's Vineyard

is a roughly 100 square mile (259 km²) island off the southern coast of Cape Cod, and is often known simply as "the Vineyard". Located in the state of Massachusetts, the Vineyard makes up most of County of Dukes County, Massachusetts (the rest of the county consists of Cuttyhunk and the Elizabeth Islands). It was home to one of the earliest known deaf communities, and consequently a special dialect of sign language, Martha's Vineyard Sign Language, developed on the island. The island is now primarily known as a summer colony, but seems to be growing as a year-round community.

Political Geography

Martha's Vineyard is made up of six towns (see below for profiles and official web sites):

  • Tisbury, also known as Vineyard Haven.
  • Edgartown, which includes Chappaquiddick Island.
  • Oak Bluffs, often mistakenly referred to as Oaks Bluff.
  • West Tisbury.
  • Chilmark, including the fishing village of Menemsha.
  • Aquinnah, formerly known as Gay Head.

Tisbury, MA

Tisbury was settled by the English in the mid-sixteen hundreds. Its' ample harbor lies nestled between two small peninsulas, or "chops", thus creating the year-round port and village of Vineyard Haven, once called "Holmes Hole". The harbor is home to several shipyards and marinas, in addition to the Steamship Authority terminal. It remains to this day a "dry" town. The nightlife tends to be more low key, the better to enjoy many fine restaurants, shops, galleries, and theatres. Bike and walking paths are found on and off the road, and leisurely strolls along the harbor or side streets are full of local history and architecture. Web site: http://tisburygov.org

Oak Bluffs, MA

Since the mid 1800's, Oak Bluffs has been a vacation destination for a diverse group of visitors, and has retained its character as a charming Victorian seaside community that is especially family friendly. It is home to colorful gingerbread cottages, a beautiful town park and a long stretch of calm, sandy beach. The bustling harbor and downtown area offer many restaurants, shops, galleries and ice cream parlors, two vintage movie theaters and the Flying Horses, the oldest carousel in the nation. Annual summer events include Illumination Night, weekly band concerts and sing-a-longs, a monster shark tournament, and an evening of fabulous fireworks at Ocean Park, signaling the end of summer. Web site: http://oakbluffs-ma.gov

Edgartown, MA

Edgartown was the Island's first colonial settlement. It was a major whaling port in the eighteenth century, and the stately Greek Revival houses built by the whaling captains still line the streets of the downtown area. The Whaling Church is the venue for many events. The charming Edgartown lighthouse overlooks the harbor, world renowned as a great yachting center. Web site: http://www.edgartown-ma.us