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Martha’s Vineyard is an island in the United States of America, situated eight miles off the Cape Cod Peninsula of Massachusetts. With a permanent population of roughly 15,000, it is a longstanding summer colony.
New England’s largest island is primarily populated by the wealthy, celebrities and relaxed holidaymakers, earning it the nickname ‘Hollywood East’. Affluent as it is, Martha’s Vineyard is relatively untouched in terms of commercial development, boasting a supremely beautiful and natural landscape. Taking the place of chain restaurants and cafes are sweeping beaches adorned with lighthouses, lush farmlands, small inns and charming cottages.
Becoming a popular tourist haunt due to its pleasant summer weather and sandy shoreline, the island was first and foremost a pioneer for the American whaling industry during the 19th Century. A few centuries prior saw English colonies on the country’s east coast; Martha’s Vineyard was bought by Thomas Mayhew who, notably, maintained a friendly relationship with the indigenous Wampanoags, establishing the first settlement at Great Harbor in 1642, which was to become Edgartown soon after.
Divided into six towns, it has something to suit every mood, taste and budget. Edgartown, the most populous, specialises in exquisite dining and was the main shooting location for the 1975 movie ‘Jaws’. Head over to Oak Bluffs to experience the iconic ‘gingerbread cottages’ and excellently-preserved 19th Century buildings, as well as classic fun in the sun frolics like riding carousels and sampling local ice cream along the beach. Vineyard Haven, sitting on the very eastern tip, is the main port and commercial hub, which actually falls within the town of Tisbury.
As there are no bridges from mainland Massachusetts, the ferry services to Martha’s Vineyard are regular and reliable. With multiple crossings provided every day, you can reach the island from Hyannis in under an hour, while sailings from the neighbouring island of Nantucket last a little longer, both arriving at the port of Oak Bluffs.