A Guide to the Best Beaches on Martha’s Vineyard

a guide to the best beaches on martha's vineyard

What is an island, if not a great beach destination? The beaches on Martha’s Vineyard have a unique charm and unspoiled beauty that draw visitors from around the world. The island offers a perimeter of 124 miles of pristine coastline and a diverse selection of beaches ranging from calm, shallow stretches on the island’s northern and eastern shores to popular surf destinations on the south side. Many Vineyard beaches are open to the public, while others are resident-only and require a permit (information about beach parking and permits can be found on town websites).

Best Beaches on Martha’s Vineyard “Up-Island”

Let’s start the guide to the best of the beaches on Martha’s Vineyard “up island” in Aquinnah, located on the island’s far west side. Moshup Beach, also known as Aquinnah Public Beach, stretches out for a mile along the Vineyard Sound. The white sand is super-fine– perfect for skimboarding and walking. It is a bit of a hike from the parking lot, about a ten-minute walk, but the stunning

a guide to the best beaches on martha's vineyard
Gay Head Cliffs, Aquinnah

Gay Head Cliffs, a National Landmark, and one of the best places on the island to catch a sunset make the walk worthwhile. Visitors should know that some consider the very far end of the beach to be the Vineyard’s “un-official” clothing-optional area. Moshup Beach is open to the public, and parking is $15.

a guide to the best beaches on martha's vineyard
Lobsterville Beach

Also in Aquinnah is Lobsterville Beach, two miles of dunes and beachgrass with calm waters perfect for fishing or snorkeling. There is limited parking available, so get there early. Parking on Lobsterville Road is prohibited.

Also, up island is the lovely town of Chilmark, with its rolling fields punctuated by ancient stone walls, farm stands, and breathtaking ocean views. Lucy Vincent Beach (a favorite of locals, celebrities, and politicians – think Jake Gyllenhaal and the Obama’s) is resident-only and features soaring bluffs and great surf.

Next to the picturesque Menemsha Harbor, with its collection of working fishing boats docked next to glamorous sailing yachts, is Menemsha Public Beach featuring the clear, calm water typical of the Vineyard’s North Shore. This beach is perfect for families; parking is close to shore, clean restrooms, and an excellent variety of seafood and sandwich shops are all within walking distance.

Traveling to Beaches in the South of Martha’s Vineyard

If you want to catch some of the Vineyard’s south side surf, Katama Beach (or South Beach) is the place to go. And, if you have small children in tow or friends who prefer the calm, Katama beach is the best of both worlds. Three miles of barrier beach with the potential for rugged surf on one side and a protected salt pond on the other. The beach is open to all, but only strong swimmers should attempt to ride the waves when the surf is strong.

Popular Beaches on the East Side

best beaches 5
Chappaquiddick Island

On the island’s eastern side is Edgartown, a charming historic seaport where the winding streets are dotted with rose-covered cottages, ice cream shops, and beachy clothing boutiques. Edgartown is also home to some of the most popular beaches of Martha’s Vineyard. East Beach, located on Chappaquiddick Island, is a uniquely beautiful serene seven-mile stretch that features a red-wood cedar grove, salt marshes, sand dunes, and a lighthouse. Grab your bike, pack a lunch and take the Chappy Ferry over for the day or the afternoon. East Beach is three miles from the ferry landing. The small island is perfect for cycling. East Beach is part of the Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge and Wasque Reservation and is maintained by the Trustees of the Reservation

If you want to catch some of the Vineyard’s south side surf, Katama Beach (or South Beach) is the place to go. And, if you have small children in tow or friends who prefer the calm, Katama beach is the best of both worlds. Three miles of barrier beach with the potential for rugged surf on one side and a protected salt pond on the other. The beach is open to all, but only strong swimmers should attempt to ride the waves when the surf is strong. 

The only Martha’s Vineyard beach permitting over-sand driving is also in Edgartown. Norton Point Beach, A popular destination for surf casters and a vital nesting ground for shorebirds, is a barrier beach between Katama Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Access to this beach is by permit only. No public restrooms or other amenities are available, but it can be the perfect four-wheeling destination for those who hope to escape the crowds.

Hitting the Beaches for the day, off the Ferry

Among the many sights and activities that Oak Bluffs offers, it is also the perfect beach destination for those visiting Martha’s Vineyard for the day. The Oak Bluffs Town Beach, also known as Inkwell Beach, is a short walk from the Steamship Authority dock.

a guide to the best beaches on martha's vineyard
Inkwell Beach

This family-friendly beach features lifeguards, calm, clean water for swimming, and a perfect spot to watch the boats or catch a sunset.

You need only cross the street to stroll through gorgeous Ocean Park with its Victorian homes, lush lawn, and gazebo bandstand. The Flying Horses carousel and a diverse selection of shops and cafes are all within walking distance. There is ample parking for those who need it and a convenient Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority (MVTA) stop right at Ocean Park that will take you anywhere on the island for an $8 one-day pass.

Just a ten-minute ride down Beach Road is the Joseph Sylvia State Beach (State Beach), another clear, mild beach on the way to Edgartown. The iconic American Legion Memorial Bridge (or “Jaws Bridge,” so named because it was featured in the movie Jaws, filmed on the island in 1975) is on State Beach, which straddles Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. The bridge is a “must-see” spot for kids and adults who win bragging rights by jumping from the railings to the cheers of onlookers and fellow jumpers. Jumping from Jaws bridge is an easy part of a beach day trip to the Vineyard because of the convenience of the MVTA.

In Vineyard Haven, the beaches are scenic and tranquil. Lake Tashmoo Town Beach is open to all and a little gem of a beach at the end of Herring Creek Road. It is off the beaten path and popular with families, kayakers, and snorkelers. Children enjoy the shallow water, watching the boats, and exploring the marsh. Owen Park Beach is a harbor beach near the center of town

a guide to the best beaches on martha's vineyard

and the Steamship Authority. A perfect spot to take in the sights of the harbor, visit the famous Black Dog Tavern for lunch (and a sweatshirt), or wait to board your ferry home. Another calm and quaint Vineyard Haven Beach is Tisbury Town Beach at the end of Owen Little Way. Tisbury Town Beach is a popular spot for paddleboarders offering unique views of boat traffic and the tall ships owned by the Black Dog. Note that there is minimal parking.

Making Beach Plans Ahead

West Tisbury is home to two of the most beautiful beaches on Martha’s Vineyard. However, enjoying a visit to The Long Point Wildlife Refuge Beach or Lambert’s Cove requires a bit of planning or a bit of luck. Long Point Wildlife Refuge is open to all, but due to high demand, as of June of 2022, visitors must purchase a pass in advance. This beach is worth the extra planning and extra effort. The Long Point Wildlife Refuge has it all. Part of the 600-acre Long Point Wildlife Refuge, it is a barrier beach with surf for the adventurous on the side facing the Atlantic Ocean and warm salt and freshwater ponds on the other for children kayakers and paddleboarders. Beyond the beach, visitors can enjoy hiking trails through the reservation, bird watching, and a collection of rare native plants to discover. requires a bit of planning or a bit of luck. Long Point Wildlife Refuge is open to all, but due to high demand, as of June of 2022, visitors must purchase a pass in advance. This beach is worth the extra planning and extra effort. The Long Point Wildlife Refuge has it all. Part of the 600-acre Long Point Wildlife Refuge, it is a barrier beach with surf for the adventurous on the side facing the Atlantic Ocean and warm salt and freshwater ponds on the other for children kayakers and paddleboarders. Beyond the beaches on Martha’s Vineyard, visitors can enjoy hiking trails through the reservation, bird watching, and a collection of rare native plants to discover.

Lucky West Tisbury residents and renters can enjoy Lambert’s Cove, arguably one of the most pristine and beautiful beaches on Martha’s Vineyard. The sand at Lambert’s Cove is as fine as sugar, a guide to the best beaches on martha's vineyardand the crystal sea sparkles in the sun surrounded by rolling green hills and dunes. While a resident-only permit is required to park at the beach, for those curious to see if it lives up to its dreamy reputation, there is always the shoulder season. Beach permits are not required before June 15th or after September 15th, and any devotee of the Cape and Islands will tell you that September is an enchanting month to plan a visit. The crowds begin to dwindle, the days are still warm and sunny, and the best resident-only beaches on Martha’s Vineyard are open to all.

There is something transformative about time spent on an island. It takes a little extra effort to get there; however, as many of us know, extra effort often brings an extra reward. Martha’s Vineyard may be a favorite destination for celebrities, artists, authors, world leaders, and captains of industry, but the best beaches on Martha’s Vineyard are there for all of us to enjoy.

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