Martha’s Vineyard is a lovely resort island that lies south of Cape Cod in the state of Massachusetts. Because no bridge connects it with the mainland, it is only accessible by air and by boat. Its pleasant weather, beautiful beaches, quaint historic towns, and unforgettable scenery have made it a popular summer tourist destination. Among the many possible recreational activities are swimming, sunbathing, fishing, cycling, and golfing. Here are some of the top locations for vacation rentals on Martha’s Vineyard.

1. Tisbury/Vineyard Haven

cruise ship and boats
Source: Flickr / Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

The beautiful harbor at Vineyard Haven has the main port for ferries and other boats that bring visitors to the island. The town is an excellent place to stroll and shop, and its restaurants offer fine dining experiences. At Owens Park Beach, you can sunbathe and watch the boats arriving and departing in the harbor. The Old Schoolhouse Museum highlights local history.

2. Tisbury/West Chop

couple getting out the lighthouse
Source: Flickr / Charles W. Bash

The residential community of West Chop is on a peninsula at the extreme northern tip of Martha’s Vineyard. Its lighthouse, constructed in 1891, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearby Mink Meadows Golf Club offers a unique playing experience with its rolling hills and spectacular ocean views. Lake Tashmoo is a large picturesque coastal pond with an ocean entrance that offers safe harbor for fishing and pleasure boats. From the shore, you can observe abundant swans, ducks, geese, and ospreys.

3. Oak Bluffs

colorful flowers near the gazebo
Source: Flickr / Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

The harbor at Oak Bluffs is another popular entry point for tourists to Martha’s Vineyard. The small harbor is popular with recreational and fishing boats, and its fishing pier is a great place to drop your line. Four public beaches around the town provide ample opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The town is known for its brightly painted wooden cottages known as gingerbread cottages. Nearby is Farm Neck Golf Club, an enormous course that includes varied topography such as woodlands, meadows, and salt marshes.

4. Oak Bluffs/East Chop

large sailboat
Source: Flickr / Putneypics

East Chop is a residential area that lies on a peninsula between Vineyard Haven Harbor and Vineyard Sound. Its beautiful white lighthouse, which stands at the extreme end of the peninsula, is open for tours. Nearby is Crystal Lake, a shallow pond that’s ideal for kayaking, canoeing, bird watching, and wildlife observation. Around the lake are trails for hiking and cycling.

5. Edgartown

boats near the lighthouse
Source: Flickr / Bob P. B.

Edgartown is a former whaling port, and it still retains its historic ambiance due to the restoration of the old Whaling Church and residences of whaling captains. The town was one of the main shooting sites for Steven Spielberg’s thriller Jaws, and you can still see many of the buildings that appeared in the film. Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Edgartown features exhibits on the history of the island. Edgartown Harbor Light lies at the harbor entrance surrounded by a barrier beach. On the north side of town, Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary has four miles of walking trails through woodlands, meadows, and salt marsh. The family-friendly facility features butterfly and bird gardens, kayak tours, and interactive exhibits with live animals.

6. Chappaquiddick Island

cars parked at the beach
Source: Flickr / Waywuwei

Chappaquiddick Island, which is often connected to the main island of Martha’s Vineyard by a barrier sand bar, is famous for its beautiful beaches and opportunities for hiking, cycling, and bird watching. Its diverse ecology includes red cedar woodlands, salt marshes, meadows, and ponds. Wasque Point at its southern tip is a great place to fish for species such as striped bass and bluefish. Mytoi Gardens is a lovely haven featuring a trail with a footbridge that leads to a small island.

7. Katama

groups of people celebrating at the seaside
Source: Flickr / John Piekos

The residential area of Katama lies in the southeast portion of Martha’s Vineyard. Katama Bay, a saltwater area enclosed by the main island, Chappaquiddick Island, and a long barrier beach, is a popular location for windsurfing, kayaking, and kiteboarding. South Beach State Park offers three miles of sandy beach that is ideal for sunbathing, sandcastle building, and surfing. The FARM Institute at historic Katama Farm has walking trails throughout the farm complex and programs that provide children with opportunities to help out and learn about farm life.

8. West Tisbury

Source: Flickr / patrol office at the dock
Source: Flickr / Josefina Casals

The town of West Tisbury is in an agricultural area on the south side of Martha’s Vineyard. Vast ponds surrounded by forested areas dominate its landscape. Long Point Wildlife Refuge is a vast 600-acre area of dunes, beaches, and woodlands where you can swim, sunbathe, and go kayaking, paddle boarding, and bird watching. Manuel F. Correllus State Forest is an inland reserve with trails for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. At Polly Hill Arboretum, you can admire hundreds of plant species from around the world.

9. Chilmark

creative rock formations at the beach
Source: Flickr / mgstanton

Chilmark is a town of pastoral beauty on the western side of Martha’s Vineyard. On the north side of town is Peaked Hill, which is the highest point on the island and has magnificent views. To the south is the Atlantic Ocean coastline, where tall cliffs give way to gorgeous sandy beaches. Fulling Mill Brook Conservation Area offers trails and footbridges where you can hike, cycle, ride horseback, and observe wildlife.

10. Menemsha

houses and boats
Source: Flickr / Jef Nickerson

Menemsha is a picturesque fishing village on the northwest corner of Martha’s Vineyard. Its restaurants specialize in freshly caught and cooked seafood. A public beach near the harbor is a great place for sunbathing and water play. From its small harbor, you can charter a boat to go ocean fishing or tour the nearby Elizabeth Islands. Some of these small islands are privately owned summer residences, while others are uninhabited except by seals and seabirds.

11. Aquinnah

people walking at the seaside
Source: Flickr / Bob P. B.

The town of Aquinnah is at the westernmost tip of Martha’s Vineyard. It’s famous for its lovely clay cliffs and pristine beaches. Part of the town center is a historic district that includes an old schoolhouse, town hall, post office, Baptist church, and other buildings. The Aquinnah Cultural Center highlights local Native American history and culture. The Gay Head Light, which is open for tours, was the first lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard.