The beaches in Martha’s Vineyard are one of the best things to do in Martha’s Vineyard. There are Martha’s Vineyard beaches for every type of traveller, from the teen scene at Martha’s Vineyard South Beach, African Americans at Inkwell Beach, the surfers at Squibnocket Beach Martha’s Vineyard and the families at State Beach Martha’s Vineyard. Go fishing at Lobsterville Beach, clamming at Tashmoo Beach and sunset viewing at Menemsha Beach. There’s a reason Martha’s Vineyard is a bucket list New England item and one of the best places to visit in Massachusetts. We show you the best beaches in Martha’s Vineyard for whatever suits your beach going pleasure.
Martha’s Vineyard Beaches
Unlike Nantucket where all the beaches are public, there are three types of beaches in Martha’s Vineyard: private beaches, town beaches and public beaches.
The private beaches – you guessed it – are private.
A town beach is open only specifically for residents of whichever of the 6 Vineyard towns it belongs to. You need a beach sticker (or a walk-on permit) to access a town beach. You get the beach sticker with either paperwork saying you own/rent in that particular town.
The Martha’s Vineyard public beaches are open to anyone on the island.
These beaches are mostly public beaches but there are some town beaches too. Off season, all the beaches in Martha’s Vineyard are open without restriction.
As you would expect, the water in the ocean-facing beaches can get chilly if refreshing. Cold ocean water is a quintessential New England summer beach experience!
Here are our pick of the best beaches in Martha’s Vineyard:
Martha’s Vineyard Public Beaches
These Martha’s Vineyard beaches are all open to anyone who rocks up but be aware that parking may be an issue.
Although Owen Park Beach or Tisbury Town Beach in Vineyard Haven are both Martha’s Vineyard Public Beaches, they are too close to the busy Vineyard Haven harbor to rate being one of the best beaches in Martha’s Vineyard.
There’s also Eastville Point Beach on the Oak Bluffs side near the drawbridge connecting Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs. It’s got limited parking and there are better options for your Martha’s Vineyard beach day.
Moshup Beach Martha’s Vineyard
Down the road from the Aquinnah light house, Moshup Beach Martha’s Vineyard is a charming beach wedged between the Aquinnah cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to its location, it’s also known as Aquinnah Public Beach. The Atlantic Ocean waves makes this a popular surf beach.
There’s limited paid parking. After hours and off-season, parking is free. The parking lot is a 10 minute walk on a paved trail lined with beach plums to Moshup Beach.
Keep heading for the Aquinnah cliffs at Moshup Beach, and you’ll find a Martha’s Vineyard nude beach.
The Menemsha Public Beach is not the best beach on the island in terms of sand, width or parking.
Yet Menemsha Beach is super popular so parking may be an issue.
Why? The sunsets at Menemsha are epic! People come in the evenings with picnic blankets and eat their dinner while watching the sunset. This ritual is one of our favourite budget things to do in Martha’s Vineyard.
The water is calm and its easy for kids to play in the sand and water. There are rocks nearby as well that my kids love to clamber over.
Menemsha Beach is right near the fishing village of Menemsha and its charming little harbor. The cutesy fishing village charm of Menemsha Martha’s Vineyard is memorialised in the movie, Jaws.
We love Lobsterville Beach because it’s rarely crowded and beautiful. Of course, Lobsterville Beach is in an out of the way place up-island and has limited parking.
With its soft white sand, Lobsterville Beach faces the calm waters of Vineyard Sound and is great for families. It’s also a popular place for fisherman.
Long Point Wildlife Refuge
My kids adore Long Point Wildlife Refuge which is owned by the Trustees of the Reservations. On the one side, you’ve got a calm pond perfect for wading quite far out even for little kids.
There’s a sandy beach which is also good for building endless sandcastles and marinas. There are also little fish that are super fast but can provide entertainment for hours trying to catch with kiddie fishing nets.
On the other side of Long Point Beach separated by dunes, you’ve got the Atlantic Ocean with its big waves perfect for more adventurous kids.
You can rent kayaks and stand up paddle boards at Long Point Wildlife Refuge.
Parking is limited and so on a good beach day all the parking will be taken by 11 AM. But people leave by the afternoon and parking is once again open by 4AM.
State Beach Martha’s Vineyard
State Beach Martha’s Vineyard runs from near Edgartown to Oak Bluffs. It’s easy to get to State Beach from the bicycle path. There’s also good parking facilities on Beach Road Martha’s Vineyard.
On one side, you’ve got Nantucket Sound and on the other side, there is Sengekontacket Pond. There is wind-surfing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding available on Senge. You can rent kayaks from Island Spirit Kayaks by Little Bridge on Beach Road.
One part of State Beach where Beach Road Martha’s Vineyard is known as Bend in the Road Beach – Edgartown is the nearest town. It’s got shallow water and small waves. We used to take our children there all the time when they were younger because it’s perfect for playing beach games as well as shallow wading.
Now that my kids are teens they insist on going to the other end near Jaws Bridge where the waves are bigger and they occasionally jump off the bridge. Jaws Bridge (named because it appears in a pivotal scene in the movie, Jaws) is a popular spot to jump into the water.
No dogs are allowed on either State beach or the pondside beach from April 1st to August 31st because this area has protected wildlife.
South Beach Martha’s Vineyard
South Beach Martha’s Vineyard is a wide sand beach that stretches for about 3 miles. Located in the Katama section of Edgartown, it’s sometimes referred to as Katama Beach. It’s got good surf, easy parking and is a popular beach.
The undertow at South Beach Martha’s Vineyard can be fierce. When our children were younger, they preferred Katama Bay which is a protected salt pond. The Katama Bay side of South Beach has gentler water for playing.
Martha’s Vineyard South Beach is the best beach on Martha’s Vineyard for teenagers and college kids to see and to be seen. There is plenty of street Parking on Atlantic Avenue as well as a parking lot for Martha’s Vineyard South Beach. Only 3 miles from downtown Edgartown, lots of people also cycle to South Beach on their bikes.
When the beach is in place that connects South Beach to Wasque in Chappaquiddick, this portion of the beach is known as Norton Point Beach. It was only 2007 when a major storm caused a breach in the barrier beach making Chappaquiddick an island for a few years.
Over sand vehicles are allowed on Norton Point Beach with permits. Norton Point is run by the Trustees of Reservations.
We love the Chappaquiddick beaches owned by the Trustees of the Reservations on Chappaquidick. (Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge and Wasque Reservation).
If you are a morning person, Chappy Martha’s Vineyard has beautiful sunrises.
Cape Poge is where the infamous Kennedy Chappaquidick incident happened.
Cape Poge is wide, sandy and generally uncrowded. There are jeep tours where you can go out to see the Cape Poge lighthouse. You can also get a beach permit to take your car onto the sand.
For kids, one of the big pluses of visiting a Chappaquiddick beach is taking the Chappy Ferry across the harbor from Edgartown.
You can’t swim at Wasque because of its ferocious currents. Next door though is East Beach Chappaquiddick with six miles of coastline. East Beach is not as easy to reach as Cape Poge. One year we had to swim with kids and coolers to the beach from where we parked.
One of the Chappaquiddick beahes not part of the Trustees is the North Neck Highlands Preserve. It’s scenic and good for hiking and fishing if you get tired of the beach. Watch out for biting insects!!
Lake Tashmoo Town Beach
We went to this beach years ago when we rented a house in Vineyard Haven.
They told us it was a bumpy road but they didn’t tell us how bumpy!! I seriously did not think our mini-van would make it. I had visions of strapping two babies onto Baby Bjorns and walking to get help.
The beach itself is nice but you do need a 4 wheel drive to get there comfortably. Thanks to its remote location, this beach is nice and uncrowded.
Clamming on Tashmoo Beach is allowed with a permit. It is also popular for fisherman.
Inkwell Beach Martha’s Vineyard is part of the town beach of Oak Bluffs. The name of Inkwell Beach started as a pejorative description because it was frequented by African American visitors to Martha’s Vineyard. They were the servants to the white visitors to Martha’s Vineyard but eventually started purchasing property of their own. By the 1920’s Oak Bluffs Martha’s Vineyard was a resort destination for African Americans in the Northeast.
And, the visitors gathered at Inkwell Beach to see and be seen and to enjoy the sun, sea and the sand. Besides, the beach next door to Inkwell Beach was a pay beach and why spend money for the exact same thing! As times have changed, Inkwell Beach is a name worn with pride and even has a 1994 famous coming-of-age movie named after it.
Nowadays, the whole of the beach from the Steamship Authority dock to State Beach is technically the Oak Bluffs town beach. Inkwell Beach is the bit by Tuckerneck Avenue.
Fuller Street Beach/Lighthouse Beach
There is limited parking at Fuller Street for Fuller Street Beach. Park near the Harbor View hotel for access to Edgartown Lighthouse and Lighthouse Beach. Or, ride a bike to either beach which is conveniently located in-town Edgartown.
Lighthouse beach has always been there but there was time in the recent beach when storms washed out Fuller Street Beach.
5 Great Permit Needed Beaches Martha’s Vineyard
Think you can sneak onto a town beach during the summer season when they are limited to town residents? Good luck with that. They are fiercely guarded by teens who are paid to check for beach permits.
We met a teenager who is an occasional parking attendant at Lucy Vincent Beach. He has told us hilarious stories of people who try to lie and cheat their way onto the beaches.
For example, “I took a wrong turn and I’m simply going to turn around” leads to a quick park, a run for the beach and a chase by a young lifeguard.
Lambert’s Cove Beach Martha’s Vineyard
Lambert’s Cove Beach is a West Tisbury town beach. It’s a gem of a beach bordering the Vineyard Sound with good sand and clear waters. It’s got amazing sunsets which get a lot less crowded than the Menemsha Town Beach sunsets.
Many people consider Lambert’s Cove Beach Martha’s Vineyard to be the best North Shore island on the beach.
Lucy Vincent Beach Martha’s Vineyard
Lucy Vincent Beach Martha’s Vineyard is a town beach for Chilmark. It’s a firm favourite with teenagers for its big Atlantic waves great for surfing and bodyboarding.
When you visit Lucy Vincent, if you head left from the parking lot and keep going at a certain point you will find one of the Martha’s Vineyard nude beaches. We’ve never felt the need to visit the nudist beach Martha’s Vineyard scene.
Squibnocket Beach Martha’s Vineyard
Squibnocket Beach Martha’s Vineyard is a town beach for Chilmark. Squibby as it’s locally known is a beautiful location and great for surfing. Non-Chilmark residents are allowed at Squibby before 9AM and after 5PM. There is easy beach parking right near the beach.
We love going in the evenings when anyone can visit. It’s usually empty and the sunsets are fabulous. Menemsha Beach may have better sunsets (arguably) but a whole lot more people.
Zack’s Cliffs is an Aquinnah public beach for Aquinnah residents. You get that isolated Robinson Crusoe feeling because, yes, you are pretty much in the middle of nowhere.
Philbin Beach is another Martha’s Vineyard beach in Aquinnah with parking for Aquinnah residents only. You can park elsewhere though and walk down to Philbin Beach. Head left and you will find a Martha’s Vineyard nude beach sandwiched between Philbin Beach and Moshup Beach.
Other Martha’s Vineyard Beaches
Are you ready to put in some effort to find an isolated Martha’s Vineyard beach?
My kids used to love hiking Great Rock Bight Preserve to get to the beach on the trail. It’s empty and has great stones for skipping. It’s neighbored on both sides by private beaches and whopping giant stone in the front Parking is limited and bring water shoes for playing in the sand and water. It’s also a great place to watch the sunset far from the madding crowd.
Part of the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary is also another hike to a beautiful beach. This beach though doesn’t allow swimming so less incentive for the kids to do it. It’s also got a giant rock in the water but much closer to the shore than at Great Rock Bight Reserve.
Alternatively, kayak or canoe down to one of the Land Bank beaches of the great ponds. Edgartown Great Pond Beach is a land bank beach reached via water from Turkeyland Neck. Same thing goes for Tisbury Great Pond Beach reachable from Quansoo Reserve and Sepiessa Point.
Don’t forget about the beaches at the small ponds, too. When they were toddler, my children couldn’t get enough of the freshwater beach at Seth’s Pond. Recently the beach at Seth’s Pond is gone but, like other beaches on the island, it is bound to come back again.
What to Wear on Martha’s Vineyard Beaches
Don’t bother packing beach towels because most rental homes in the Vineyard provide them. Besides you can pick them relatively cheaply on Martha’s Vineyard (see below about the Black Dog which does a good sturdy range of beach towels).
We have ideas on what to pack for kids for a Martha’s Vineyard vacation (as well as what to wear on Martha’s Vineyard when you are not at the beach) in a separate post.
Remember a sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses and a coverup – the sun can get really hot. The days of baking yourself (and resultant skin cancer) should be left in the 1970’s.
1. Coolibar UPF 50+ Women’s Avery Raffia Fedora 2. Melissa Odabash Pareo/ Sardegna Bikini 3. Maui Jim Hanapaa Square Sunglasses 4. Coolibar UPF 50+ Oceanside Tunic Dress 5. Vineyard Vines Shell Tankini Top & Bikini Bottom 6. Vineyard Vines Triangle Top 7. Havaianas Women’s Flip Flop Sandals 8. Lands’ End Open Top Canvas Tote Bag 9. Okabashi Maui Flip Flop Sandals
Some thoughts on the above list of items for a Martha’s Vineyard vacation.
- As far long as I can remember, The Black Dog stores give out a free canvas tote bag at a certain purchase level that you will probably meet. We use those tote bags for everything but they are not as good as the Land’s End Canvas tote bag noted above which has compartments on the inside to keep life organised.
- We love Minnesota brand, Coolibar, which takes sun protection to your clothes, including for kids. Despite being lightweight, Coolibar clothes are actually very sturdy.
- If you are looking for Oka, Reef or other sandals you can probably find them at Boneyard, swim and surf shop in Edgartown or Island Outfitters in Oak Bluffs. My daughter lives in her Havianas but I prefer the support of a sturdier flip flop.
- Obviously there are Vineyard Vines stores in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown too.
- Check out Summer Shades in Edgartown for sunglasses. We love Maui Jim for their polarised sun protection on the beach.
Map of the Best Beaches Martha’s Vineyard
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