Nantucket and Martha's Vinyard Questions

My sister wants to go to one of these islands sometime. I know nothing about them beyong that they have a repution of where rich snots go. So do ordinary people vacation there? Is there any difference between the two? It seems fantastically expensive to bring a car there, so is it worthwhile just to see what’s within walking distance of the ferry? Or is there some shuttle service other than municipal buses, which I avoid at all costs. Cute touristy towns and beaches the main draw? Is there fast food on the islands?

I know I’ve been asking for a lot of travel advice lately, I’m just trying to get a couple of trip ideas to maybe do now or maybe in years to come.

Only been to the Vineyard. Yes, extremely expensive to stay there in high season, but if you can get there in, say, September/ October, or April, May, its really beautiful uncrowded, and reasona
bly affordable, of course I know thats relative. You do need to bring your car or rent one if you really want to explore.
Only fast food I’m aware of is the DQ in Edgartown. They somehow got an exemptionfrom the fast food/chain ban, I guess.
Have a great time if you go! :slight_smile:

Plenty of ordinary people go to Nantucket. There are plenty of B&B’s to stay in as well as house rentals. You can walk to get around most of the downtown area. You can also rent cars and mopeds, bicycles, and the like. You can put a car on the ferry but it costs a lot more than passenger tickets.

There are some rich snots there. You are somewhat rich if you live there in the first place. But that’s new money. The Vineyard is more of an old money place. The tourists seem to outnumber the natives during the season, and they seem to be mostly a younger crowd. I have friends with a B&B there, but I’m not sure if they’re operating now because of family issues. Many places allow pets and many people bring their dogs with them. My best friend wasn’t thrilled with the ferry ride though.

If you’re in driving range the parking on Cape Cod for the ferry was very reasonable. You can also catch a small plane from the Cape. Major airline service seemed incredibly expensive and inconvenient when I last checked.

There’s a decent bus service between the big towns on the Vineyard. You can also rent a bike or moped. I used to walk between towns when I was a kid, though that takes some time. If it were me, I’d rent a bike, and bike out to one of the beaches. There’s a decent system of bike-paths and the islands pretty flat, so even if your out of shape it wouldn’t be too hard to do.

Driving is a PITA, even apart from getting the car over on the ferry, so I’d avoid it if you can.

The draw is mainly seafood, beaches, beach towns and boat related activities. Most of the “rich snots” live up island, the towns are about as expensive as most other tourism dependent islands.

Nantucket is smaller and further from the mainland than Martha’s Vineyard. It’s more islandish. My experience is about 33 years ago, but at least at that time the island of Nantucket was very convenient and pleasant by bicycle, and the town of Nantucket was convenient and pleasant by foot.

We would be renting a car in Boston as this is part of a larger idea to explore Cape Cod, and possibly get back to Boston and/or Newport. So the question is a matter of do I leave it at the ferry terminal on the mainland or take it with. Seems renting a car on the island is extremely expensive as is taking it abourd the ferry. And unfortunately my sister doesn’t really know how to ride a bike, but maybe we could practice over the summer if we go next fall as I’d like her to learn so we can go biking in Acadia too some time.

Also, if you bring a car to the island, you will have a harder time finding a place to stay. And it better be a small car if you want to make your way around the narrow streets and slender parking spots. I don’t have any clear memory of it, but I do think there is a tour bus that will take you around the spots out of town worth seeing.

If nothing else, there’s a guy named Antonio who drives a cab.

We wouldn’t be staying overnight on the islands but it does sound like leaving the car and taking a tour bus would be the way to go. I normally pass on organized tours but it sounds like it’s the best way to do things.

You will need reservations well in advance to take a car, you might already be out of luck for weekends. Unless you are going for an extended trip don’t bring a car. It’s also very expensive.

Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket really try to discourage bringing cars to the islands. Because they’re smallish islands, the cost of transporting gasoline there, the impact on the old narrow roads, summer crowdedness, environmental concerns and other things all contribute to the promotion of bike or moped rentals, walking, or public transportation. Leave the car parked on the mainland. You’ll be doing everyone a favor.

Nantucket has a very walkable downtown right by the ferry landing. My wife and I are ordinary folks and very much enjoyed our short honeymoon there in September fifteen nears ago.

On your way between Cape Cod and Newport, please visit my hometown, Fairhaven, MA.

I’m the guy in charge of tourism promotion there and we were written up in last week’s Boston Globe:

I spent a day on Nantucket once. We drove to the ferry, left our car there, and spent the day on Nantucket on foot. We saw plenty of pleasant sights, ate touristy food, and had a great time. Then ferried back, got in the car, and returned to our hotel. Nothing was horribly expensive, just the usual “tourist trap surcharge” that you’d expect at any crowded popular location.

Other than the quaint atmosphere, what I remember most was the whaling museum. This was over ten years ago, so I can’t guarantee it’s still there, but I enjoyed it and recommend it.

The other thing I remember most was reciting ribald limericks to myself.

We probably would go through Fairhaven. I always stay at Wyndham properties (Super 8, Days Inn / Baymont Inn) or HI Expresses and I stayed at Super 8 in the Providence area that I liked and would go back to. I did a little reseach and all the properties closer to the Cape and the Islands are much more expensive and/or have bad reviews.

That’s a joke right? :slight_smile: Is it the one in Attleboro?

It was still there as of February.

The public transportation on MV is not decent, it’s excellent. Very reliable and reasonably priced. The only problem that you might have is the #13 bus from Edgartown to Oak Bluffs. That’s a very popular and crowded bus, and you might have a problem getting on.

You can get a day pass for $7. Otherwise it’s a dollar per town, including the town of origin. VH to OB is $2, VH to ED is $3. Since you’ll only be there for a day, you might not have time to go anywhere other than VH and OB, so a pass is likely to be a loss for you.

And I must say, the “rich snots” thing is really not true. Everyone there is very nice, and it’s a defacto rule that the rich don’t get (or want to be) treated differently than anyone else. It’s a very egalitarian place. In fact I bet that you won’t be able to tell anyone’s income level from how they dress or how they act.

There’s only a few rich of the snotty variety there. I think now, most of the rich on the island weren’t rich some years back, but became so because of the inflation of the value of the property they own. The Yacht Club is the only place where people deliberately try to look rich and snotty that I’ve seen. Otherwise it would be a chance encounter. And those are probably going to be people who would be snotty whether or not they were rich.

Is that the yacht club in ED, near the Mad Max boat? I can see that. But I’ve been going there for 15 years and I have yet to encounter Thurston Howle III. I did bump into Mike Wallace once, but we didn’t say hi. Ex-GF rented his car for a week, though.

Mdcastleman, I forgot to mention – the buses I refer to above are not tour buses, they’re regular city buses. They don’t do tours, they get you where you want to go. I know nothing about the tour buses.

I haven’t been for years, but we always did summer vacations on MV when I was a kid. We never bothered with a car, took the ferry over and spent the week in Edgartown/Katama. We had bikes or walked. We usually stayed close enough to town and the beach that a car was not needed.

My family is middle class and this was our one family vacation a year.

Take the ferry over. Figure out what you want to see before you get to the island and map out the day using public transportation.

Thanks for this thread.
I’ve lived in the greater Boston area for over 15 years now, and I’ve never been to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. I really should go. Maybe I’ll plan an October trip.


Oak Bluffs. See the Flying Horses and the gingerbread houses. Take a walk up Circuit Ave. Eat at the Lookout Tavern, Sharkey’s Cantina, or Giordano’s.

Visit the art galleries in Edgartown. Eat at the Seafood Shanty.

I can’t think of much to recommend about Vineyard Haven, but I love it there. I spend most of my times there. A trip to the Black Dog is always worth it.

If you’re going to go to the beach, go to Gay Head. It’s a pain in the ass to get to, but so worth it. It’s made out of unicorns and magic. Fair warning, some people there don’t feel inclined to follow the rule “Bathing suits must be worn at all times.” Some also don’t heed the rule not to play on the cliffs. I happen to strongly agree with the second one. Body art at the expense of massive beach erosion is not cool.

I saw a lot of day trippers going from Gay Head to Menemsha this year. There’s a special bus (#12) for that.

And please, do not sound like a tourist! It’s vin-yard, not vine-yard. It’s Edgartown, not Edgarton. And it’s Oak Bluffs, not Oak’s Bluff. Those drove me crazy this year!

I’ll just stay with Helen, thanks.