I’ve gone to Martha’s Vineyard for 26 summers (read: every year of my life), and it’s comfortingly familiar every time: Killer breakfasts, relaxing beaches, quaint colonial homes with bursting gardens, lighthouses, sailboats gliding along smooth harbor waters. But, even after knowing this tiny island so well, it still manages to surprise me in little ways. Here are 6 things that might surprise you, too.
1. You’ll see the sun set over the ocean—on the East Coast.
Pack a finger-food picnic dinner and a bottle of cold rosé and head over to Menemsha, one of the westernmost beaches on the island. Families flock there during the day for sun and surf, but stay to watch the sun go down over the Vineyard Sound. Okay, so it’s not technically the open ocean, but it’s a rare sight to see the sun sink into the water in Massachusetts.
2. The best lobstah rolls? Ones you make yourself.
If you’re in a rental house—which is the best way to do Martha’s Vineyard with all its amazing local fish and produce to cook with—skip the expensive restaurant lobster rolls and make them yourself. Lots of seafood shops offer ready-to-eat lobster meat, but I particularly like Edgartown Seafood for their perfectly cooked tails and claws. A little mayo, a spritz of lemon, some celery, a split-top hotdog bun, and a couple pounds of pre-cooked and shelled lobster, and you’ve got a feast for eight. Chips and potato salad required.
3. You’ll never get sick of seeing lighthouses.
Martha’s Vineyard is home to five lighthouses. Given the reef-filled, choppy waters surrounding the island, these lights were crucial for directing ships to safe port. They also make for a pretty epic Instagram.
4. You’ll eat ice cream every single night.
There are so many amazing ice cream places in both Edgartown and Oak Bluffs that you won’t be able to resist a scoop or three every night. Just accept it, and make sure you give me a taste of whatever you get.
5. You’ll indulge at the local brewery.
Bad Martha is relatively new to the island, but it’s going to remain a staple to its daytime and nighttime drinking scene. With about a dozen beers on tap—all brewed locally—it makes for the ultimate post-beach or pre-dinner hangout. It’s also got an outdoor space with a vibe that feels like your best friend’s cookout.
6. You’ll wake up bright and early for a beach walk every single morning.
No matter how much local beer you drank the night before, morning walks on South Beach with an iced coffee are worth the groggy wake-up call. The south-facing beach has some of the largest waves you can find on the island, and the crashing surf is insanely soothing—especially since you’ll have the beach all to yourself if you go before 9 a.m.
Want more? Check out our guide to Martha’s Vineyard!