I had a rare mid week day off while working in the Newport, RI area. It's a beautiful part of the country to find yourself in during the summer months. Having spent many days during previous visits exploring and enjoying Newport, I decided to venture out. My hotel for two nights, the TownePlace Suites in North Kingstown, RI is very close to Quonset Point. I discovered a Ferry company ran from Quonset Point to Martha's Vineyard. Unfortunately, the sailing times didn't fit my needs. The next best choice was New Bedford, MA. The Ferry out of New Bedford was a 55 minute drive from the hotel. So....off I went. As I arrived at the ferry terminal, I noticed a beautifully landscaped, new looking Fairfield Inn and Suites. That place looked sharp!
It's always exciting visiting a place that you can't reach by car. A ferry ride can get your vacation juices flowing. There's just something different when you step off that boat and realize both the isolation of the island and the commonality of the people. The mood of anticipation is heavy for all the passengers. Very cool. This particular journey was on a perfect weather day. The trip across the water was about 50 minutes. Our vessel was named the Seastreak.
Martha's Vineyard 100 square miles is divided into 6 towns. We arrived in Oak Bluffs and the ferry would later depart from the neighboring town of Vineyard Haven (also called Tisbury). The other major town is Edgartown. These three towns are home to 3/4 of the year round population. The other three towns are West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah. Each town has it's own personality. My day trip included visits to the big three and West Tisbury. Public transportation on the island is provided by the VTA (Vineyard Trans. Auth.). The buses run frequently during the summer. You can get from Edgartown on the SE edge to Aquinnah on the SW edge in about an hour by bus. Aquinnah is home to the Gay Head Cliffs. Many folks recommended a visit to the cliffs, but it didn't fit into my one day schedule.
Starting in Oak Bluffs, I strolled along the main drag to window shop at many of the local businesses. It was refreshing to see local shops. I can't recall seeing many national or regional chains of any sort. Halfway down the main street, you turn through an archway and walk back to the gingerbread houses. There are about 300 of these little cottages. They are spectacular. They're part of the Camp Meeting Association. The grounds around the Gingerbreads were formerly used for Methodist church group retreats. These dwellings were built back in the 1800's. Some are available as weekly or seasonal rentals. The center of the neighborhood is The Trinity United Methodist Church (1878). Next to the church is the Tabernacle. It's like a large open-sided tent that has seating for 3000.
I hopped on the bus and headed down to Edgartown for lunch. Edgartown was known as the whaling center. I took a few pictures of the Old Whaling Church....quite a structure. This town also has many wonderful local restaurants and shops. I dined on a Lobster Roll and coleslaw (pronounced Labsta'...) DELISH!! The marina area was amazing with all type of water craft. Chappaquiddick is a short ferry ride from the main harbor area. I passed on that ride, but would like to return and visit "Chappy".
After lunch and another stroll, I hopped on the VTA and was off to West Tisbury. There wasn't much there for the day tourist, but I did find a nice general store. Back on the bus!! Now, I was off to Vineyard Haven. I had about two hours to burn before boarding the ferry for the return to the mainland. Vineyard Haven is home to many nice shops and the original Black Dog. I loaded up with souvenirs and a fruit smoothie. The perfect beverage after a day of sight seeing.
Overall, I discovered a new place on Martha's Vineyard that will be added to the list of future vacation destinations. I could see a long weekend to a full week of relaxing seaside adventures. Sorry, no Marriott properties on the island, but plenty of lodging choices.