kayaks at Menemsha Pond

The 7 Best Ponds For When You Want To Kayak Martha’s Vineyard as a Family

With outdoor adventure around every corner, Martha’s Vineyard is a world-class destination for water sports and activities. Kayaking is one of the most popular activities on the island, and families are spoiled for choice when it comes to picturesque ponds and lakes. This list provides the 7 best ponds for when you want to kayak Martha’s Vineyard with a mixed-ability group. We also tell you the two kayak rental Martha’s Vineyard options.

Kayaking on Martha’s Vineyard

Obviously, kayaking Martha’s Vineyard has two options – on one of the ponds or on the sea. For this list, we picked the 7 best ponds for safely kayaking with a mixed-ability group.

We suggest leaving sea kayaking for seasoned enthusiasts because sea kayaking requires more ability to manoeuvre currents and boats/ferries. We have yet to go sea kayaking with kids, except when we have launched a kayak off the side of a boat. Our teens have kayaked in the area outside Vineyard Harbor under our watchful eye.

kayaks in the water by a house
Kayak Martha’s Vineyard easily on one of its calm ponds

Martha’s Vineyard ponds are excellent for birdwatching and wildlife viewing, while others teem with fresh clams and oysters. Adventurous paddlers can even explore the small inlets and hidden coves that jet out from the ponds. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, these Martha’s Vineyard ponds have something the whole family can enjoy!

Kayak Safety  Remember to take some precautions so that you enjoy kayaking Martha’s Vineyard safely. Some tips to keep in mind:

  • stay together as a group
  • wear a life jacket
  • remain clear of other boats
  • wear water shoes to protect your feet in shallow waters

Kayaking Martha’s Vineyard: Down Island

There are several great options for the down island areas of Martha’s Vineyard – Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. We like Edgartown Great Pond, Poucha Pond, Sengekontacket Pond and Lagoon Pond Martha’s Vineyard.

NB!  You can kayak Lake Tashmoo in Vineyard Haven but there is an outlet to Vineyard Sound which has strong currents. Similarly, Katama Bay and Cape Poge Bay also lead out to the sea.
We may be overly cautious but my husband and I personally have had a hair-rising experience of being caught in a strong tide in a kayak heading for the Atlantic Ocean. It’s been 20+ years but we still have no desire to repeat that experience.

 

Edgartown Great Pond

Spreading across the southern coast of Martha’s Vineyard is Edgartown Great Pond. With 15 miles of shoreline and multiple rocky coves to explore, it’s a great destination for a family kayaking trip. It’s common to spot otters, swans, herons, and even ospreys hanging out around the shores or marshes.

Note that you can’t stop off at the beaches on the ocean side which are private. In reality, so long as you aren’t creating a ruckus, you can probably stop off for a small break.

Where To Launch: An unmarked dirt road on Meetinghouse Way – this dirt road is Wilson’s Landing right before Hotchkiss Lane which appears to the left if you are driving down Meetinghouse Way from the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road). Take the dirt road to the end – as hard as it is to find – there is major amounts of parking at the kayak launch because this is the Meshacket Neck Cove Park nature reserve.

Poucha Pond

One of the region’s most overlooked gems is Poucha Pond Chappaquidcick. Situated on the northern side of Chappy next to the Nantucket Sound, Poucha Pond is known for its soft-shell clam and bay scallop nurseries. As you paddle through the eelgrass beds and salt marshes, you’ll also find an abundance of waterfowl and other birds.

Since no homes or buildings line the coast, Poucha Pond is a great destination where you and your family can enjoy a quiet and relaxing afternoon kayaking near Martha’s Vineyard.

Where To Launch: Dyke Bridge (yes, that Dyke Bridge made famous by the Edward Kennedy incident)

Kayaks by Poucha Pond Chappaquidick
Kayaks by Poucha Pond Chappaquidick

Sengekontacket Pond

Covering over 725-acres, Sengekontacket Pond is a fascinating pond to explore if you’re kayaking on Martha’s Vineyard. The pond’s depth is only 3-feet deep (although the interior channels can extend up to 8-feet), which makes it ideal for families and first-time kayakers.

Spend the morning paddling around the small islands dotted throughout the pond before docking along the shoreline for an afternoon picnic. If you’re looking for a bit more action during your trip, it’s also possible to go scalloping, clamming, or windsurfing on Sengekontacket Pond.

Tip!  Beach at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary for a chance to stretch your legs.

Where to Launch: Park on State Road and launch onto Senge from one of its shallow beaches.

Lagoon Pond Martha’s Vineyard

Centrally located between the towns of Tisbury and Oaks Bluffs is the saltwater estuary of Lagoon Pond. Ideal for beginner or intermediate kayakers, Lagoon Pond is a perfect option for a family outing.

Although the waters are mostly calm, there can be a light breeze, which means sailing and swimming are also popular. In fact, our kids have gone to sailing camp held here at Lagoon Pond.

As you kayak down the narrow inlet, you’ll see a multitude of amateur and commercial anglers looking for clams, scallops, and striped bass raised in the pond.

NB If you kayak far enough, you can cross under the Beach Road bridge and find yourself in Vineyard Sound.  There are several miles of water on Lagoon Pond itself.

Where to Launch: We have launched off from the Sailing Camp park. The kayak launch is technically Eastville Point Beach but that’s under the shadow of the Beach Road bridge and too close to Vineyard Sound for our paranoid selves.

Kayaking Martha’s Vineyard: Up Island

The up island town of West Tisbury and Chilmark has huge ponds wonderful for kayaking, namely Tisbury Great Pond, Chilmark Pond and Menemsha Pond.

Note! There is also Squibnocket Pond which is not included on this list. Squibby is a private beach and so you can only park after hours during the summer or off-season. The kayak launch is right next to the parking lot for Squibby beach. Moreover, the access to Squibby is through long grass which our children did not like to navigate. Thanks to the wetland nature expect lots of biting insects! The sand dunes on one side of Squibby Pond are part of the Kennedy estate and patrolled regularly for trespassers.

Tisbury Great Pond

Compared to other ponds on Martha’s Vineyard, the Tisbury Great Pond is one of the healthiest, making it the ideal breeding ground for clams and oysters. Tisbury Great pond itself covers only 3.8 acres. Tisbury Great Pond connects through a small passageway directly into the sea when a breach is opened in late summer cycling water to help the shellfish industry’s programs.

There are several narrow coves to explore by kayak, including Tiah’s Cove, Sepiessa Cove, Deep Bottom Cove, and Thumb Cove. You can also dock your kayak and walk along Tisbury Great Pond Beach.

Where To Launch: Sepiessa Point Reservation

Colorful kayaks line a Martha’s Vineyard Pond
Colorful kayaks lying by one of Martha’s Vineyard ponds

Chilmark Pond

The shallow Chilmark Pond is a safe but fascinating pond that the whole family will enjoy paddling around. Its remote location is only accessible by canoe or kayak, which means you’ll rarely bump into any other visitors or tourists. The pond backs onto Lucy Vincent Beach.

Without too many trees or shrubs blocking the way, you should have a panoramic view of the landscape and dozens of migratory birds that nest in the area.

Launch point: Chilmark Pond Preserve at Abel’s Hill

Menemsha Pond

Menemsha Pond is located on the southern end of Martha’s Vineyard, between Aquinnah and Chilmark. Connected by the Menemsha Creek, this pond leads directly into the Vineyard Sound.

Compared to other ponds on the island, Menemsha Pond is relatively empty, despite a few commercial fishing vessels casting their nets. However, there are quite a few facilities around the Menemsha harbor to keep you occupied during your visit, including seafood restaurants and kayak rental shops. 

Launch point: Besides Home Port Restaurant and by the Life Guard station.

kayaks at Menemsha Pond
Menemsha Pond is a great place for kayaking Martha’s Vineyard

Kayak Rental Martha’s Vineyard

In terms of kayaking rental Martha’s Vineyard makes it easy. We have use both these companies – Winds Up Martha’s Vineyard and Island Spirit Kayak..

Winds Up Martha’s Vineyard

Winds Up MV is located on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven fronting onto Lagoon Pond. You can rent a single or double kayak for a couple of hours or by the day, the weekend or the week. A stores sells accessories that you may want.

Winds Up Martha’s Vineyard offers kayaking lessons both for a group and on a private basis.

Location: 199 Beach Road, Vineyard Haven. Open daily in July and August and limited hours otherwise. Check the Winds Up website for exact information.

Island Spirit Kayak Martha’s Vineyard

Island Spirit Kayak is located by Little Bridge on State Beach connecting Oak Bluffs and Edgartown (not the one that people jump off which is Big Bridge, aka Jaws Bridge).

two kids kayaking Sengekontacket Pond Martha’s Vineyard
On Sengekontacket Pond, kids using rental kayaks from Island Spirit Kayak Martha’s Vineyard.

At Island Spirit Kayak Martha’s Vineyard, kayakers usually paddle around Senge but the company can deliver kayaks elsewhere if you would like to go elsewhere. For example, we took a You can rent single or double kayaks in 3 hours slots, or up to 7 days. Book online through the website, we know from experience, these kayaks go quickly.

Island Spirit also run kayak camps for kids from the ages of 7-14. Your kids can join either for a weekly session or for individual days. Our children have done individual days at kayak camp which they enjoyed.

You can do kayak tours with Island Spirit which is highly useful if you have a large group. For example, with five families and assorted children age wise, we have done a sunset kayak tour in Chilmark. Thanks to there being a designated leader, no one adult had to be the ‘bad guy’ herding everyone in the same direction at the same time. We all got to relax and to enjoy a well-organised evening. The highlight for the children was seeing the bioluminescent plankton in the pond on the paddle back.

Location: Little Bridge, Edgartown Oak Bluffs Road, Oak Bluffs

Kayak Martha’s Vineyard: Map


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two kayakers at sunset on water with the text Martha’s Vineyard Kayaking For Families
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