Hiking on Martha's Vineyard Beaches
There are a number of beaches that are not suitable for a beach day, but offer exceptional views, interesting geology, and shore fishing access, making for great hiking destinations. Much of the land on Martha's Vineyard is protected land with hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Sheriff's Meadow, The Trustees, and the Land Bank manage many of the island's trails. A fantastic resource for finding and navigating the many trails on-Island is the TrailsMV app. Some of our favorite hiking trails that also offer beach access include Menemsha Hills, Great Rock Bight Preserve and Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary.
Martha's Vineyard Beach Access
If there's one thing we can tell you about accessing Martha's Vineyard beaches in the summer, it's get there early. Things are pretty relaxed on Martha's Vineyard, and things wind down fairly early in the towns at night. This makes for a lot of early birds so expect beach parking to be limited after 10 AM just about anywhere you go in season. Don't get discouraged if you can't find a spot right away, there is plenty to do on the island, and you can always check back in a bit, as people come and go all day long.
One important thing to remember before planning your trip to the beach on Martha's Vineyard is, not all beaches are public. There are a handful of “town” beaches, which simply means you must be a town resident and have a pass to access these beaches. These beaches include:
These are all great beaches, some of our best in fact, and many rentals in these towns come with beach passes. Note that even if you have a beach pass you are not guaranteed a spot at the beach. Parking at all is limited and even passholders can be turned away due to capacity restraints.
In the summer season these beaches are staffed with lifeguards as well as parking lot attendants to ensure compliance during the season. If you are on the island in the winter, you can enjoy a stroll on almost any of the Island's beaches, and that alone is enough of a reason to plan a Martha's Vineyard winter getaway.
It's also important to note that many of the Trustees' managed beaches require permits, or may have closures because of erosion, or migratory birds. If you are visiting a Trustees property, it is always wise to check the Trustees' website, as well as their social media for current conditions and information.
Martha's Vineyard Beach Amenities
Many of the beaches on the island offer very limited facilities if there are any at all. There has been considerable effort over the years to maintain the rural character of the island. This only adds to the beauty of the place, and many people are seeking desolate beaches, but it can leave you feeling a bit stranded if you are not prepared.
Be sure to pack plenty of sunblock, snacks, water, and anything else you may need throughout your day. There are plenty of options in the down-island towns to stock up on supplies before you head to the beach, but options become more limited up-island and also on Chappaquiddick. Additionally most island beaches are carry-in carry-out so be prepared to take all of your trash and belongings back with you, to help ensure the beauty of Martha's Vineyard beaches for generations to come.