In our new “social distancing” reality, this is the year to go “off the beaten path” and try some new activities that take you away from the crowds. Make this the year you try new something new and see parts of the island you’ve never seen before. We’ll be adding new activities to this page with ideas for you to try. When you stay with us, we’ll have a printed list where you can check off your new adventures. We challenge you to see how many you can do while you’re visiting with us!
To the Water’s Edge
While some of these places lack the sand or the space you’d get at the beach, there are places where you can reach the water’s edge and avoid the crowds.
Caroline Tuttle Preserve
Located down the street from the Triangle in Edgartown, it’s short hike to get to the shores of Sengekontacket Pond. Best to go at low tide if you want to hang by the water. It’s a great place to bring kids with dip nets to explore. There are a number of trails should you want to take a longer hike. There’s also a winding trail that’s a favorite with mountain bike fans. (Granted, it’s not mountainous, but it’s still fun).
Located on the Lagoon in Oak Bluffs, the Sailing Camp is a very busy place during the day, but for a late afternoon stroll, you can walk the water’s edge. Go past the hiking trail parking lot and park by the camp building (again, go after the camp is done for the day). The actual beach they use is a public beach down the hill. Bring a chair and enjoy the sun sinking behind Hough Neck across the water.
Kayak or Paddleboard
Exploring by kayak or paddleboard is a great way to see some of Martha’s Vineyard’s hidden spaces. There are a number of large saltwater ponds to explore. Here’s where you can launch your adventure.
Tisbury Great Pond
This saltwater pond has a number of interesting coves to explore. Seppeissa (Land Bank) has a kayak launch about halfway down the property and a full boat launch at the end. It’s located in West Tisbury off of New Lane just after the State Forest on Edgartown/West Tisbury Road. Parking is limited
This one is right down the street-literally. Once you paddle through the opening, Fuller Street Beach and Edgartown Lighthouse are to the left, Cow Bay (right before State Beach) is to the left. To get there, take a left on Peases Point Way and then a right at the end of the street. Parking on the road.
Not only can you access all of Katama Bay from this launch, but you can paddle across to Norton Point Beach. It’s located on Edgartown Bay Road. There’s lots of parking here, but it goes fast.
There are two boat launches that take you to beaches only accessible by boat:
Edgartown Great Pond
Off Meetinghouse Road in Edgartown, this is another of the island’s “great ponds” that’s fun to explore. To the south, there’s a beach owned by the Land Bank, but be forewarned, it’s not a short trip. But if you’re an avid boater, it’s definitely worth the paddle. Access is on an unmarked dirt road diagonally across from 145 Meetinghouse Road. Parking is limited
Chilmark Pond (Land Bank) is a long narrow pond with beach access 300 yards across and to the left of the pier. It’s a much shorter paddle to the beach than Edgartown Great Pond. It’s located on South Road across from the cemetery. Parking is limited so go early or after peak beach hours.
Sure, there aren’t any shops or restaurants on Chappaquiddick, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Here are a few things to add to your “to do” list.
Poucha Pond/Cross Chappy Trail (Land Bank)
Did you know you can hike straight across Chappaquiddick on the Cross Chappy Trail? It’s 12 miles from start to finish (so 24 if you don’t have a ride back to the start). Not looking for that level of activity? The trail is actually a series of smaller properties that abut each other, and there are a few worth visiting. Poucha Pond is a small property with a glorious view of the pond, Leeland Beach and the Atlantic beyond. Walk down the hill to the salt marsh overlook. From there, you can follow the Salt Marsh Trail to a few more scenic spots around the pond.
Wasque Reservation (Trustees of the Reservation)
Like a lot of the “off the beaten path” beaches, the parking lots at Wasque are small. If you are looking for a day at the beach, you’ll want to go early or later in the afternoon to get a spot. The reward is space to spread out. There are two places with access. The first, to the right, brings you to the corner of Katama Bay, a great place to explore with the kids. Be sure to bring a dip net! Also a great place to launch your kayak or paddleboard. Stay to the left to go to Wasque Beach. If you’re a swimmer, this is not the beach for you. Two opposing currents meet here and the pull is very strong. But if you like shore casting, there’s no better place on the island to wet a line. There’s also a path that links both these areas. It meanders near the edge of a bluff and the views are fantastic.
East Beach and Cape Poge (Trustees of the Reservation)
East Beach is part of the Cape Poge reservation. It has a small parking area and there is a fee to go to the beach here. Plus there’s a bit of a walk over the bridge and across the dunes. But you’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautiful spot. It’s a great beach for swimming. Be sure to check the Trustees’ website before going. Piping Plovers sometimes nest here and that can result in the beach being closed for the birds’ protection. If you have a 4X4 vehicle, you can purchase an oversand sticker to drive onto Cape Poge and enjoy miles of uncrowded beaches and beautiful dune trails. (We highly advise you ask the attendants about proper tire inflation.)
North Neck Highlands Preserve (Land Bank)
A fantastic spot to see the geography of the top of Chappaquiddick. There are two short trails here with one bringing you to a staircase that takes you down to Cape Poge pond. It’s a bit rocky, but has great views across the pond of the dunes of Cape Poge Reservation. The other trial leads up a hill to an overlook where you can get a birds eye view of Cape Poge, The Gut (the inlet to Cape Poge pond) and Edgartown. If you’re a bird watcher, there’s no better place to catch migrating birds in the late summer/early fall.
Mytoi (Trustees of the Reservation)
On the way to East Beach, you’ll pass this seemingly non-descript garden on the right. Drive by it and you’ll miss this Japanese-inspired slice of heaven. This peaceful garden has winding paths that lead you past beautiful plants and trees and around a pond stocked with Koi.
There are more trails and sites to see on Chappy. We suggest purchasing a copy of the “Walking Trails of Martha’s Vineyard” available at bookstores on the island, or going to The Land Bank and Trustees of the Reservation for more information so you can “Be Happy on Chappy.”