advertisement

Bird-Watching

Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Edgartown (tel. 508/627-4850; www.massaudubon.org), is an easy 2-mile bike ride from Edgartown. A Massachusetts Audubon Property, it has a complete visitor center staffed by naturalists who lead bird-watching walks, among other activities. You'll see osprey nests on your right on the way to the center. Pick up a trail map at the center before heading out. Several of the trails pass Sengekontacket Pond, and the orange trail leads to Waterfowl Pond, which has an observation deck with bird-sighting information. While managed by the conservation group Sheriff's Meadow Foundation, the 300-acre Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary, in Tisbury, was acquired with the assistance of Massachusetts Audubon Society. There are several trails, but you'll eventually arrive out on a picturesque bluff overlooking Vineyard Sound and the Elizabeth Islands. Check out the map posted at the parking lot for an overview of the property. The range of terrain here -- ponds, fields, woods, and bog -- provides diverse opportunities for sightings. The Sanctuary is on State Road. Follow State to Indian Hill Road, then to Obed Daggett Road, and follow signs (www.sheriffsmeadow.org). Wasque Reservation, on Chappaquiddick, a sanctuary owned by the Trustees of Reservations and located on the easternmost reaches of the island, can be accessed by bike or four-wheel-drive vehicle. The hundreds of untouched acres here draw flocks of nesting shorebirds, including egrets, herons, terns, and Piping Plovers.

Fishing

For shellfishing you'll need to get information and a permit from the appropriate town hall. Popular spots for surf-casting (requires a $10 license available at town halls) include Wasque Point (Wasque Reservation), on Chappaquiddick. Deep-sea excursions can be arranged aboard North Shore Charters (tel. 508/645-2993; www.bassnblue.com), out of Menemsha, locus of the island's commercial fishing fleet (you may recognize this weathered port from the movie Jaws). Charter costs are about $650 for a half-day.

Cooper Gilkes III, proprietor of Coop's Bait & Tackle, at 147 W. Tisbury Rd., in Edgartown (tel. 508/627-3909; www.coopsbaitandtackle.com), which offers rentals as well as supplies, is another acknowledged authority. He's available as an instructor or charter guide and is even amenable to sharing hard-won pointers on local hot spots.

Fitness

Gym addicts can get their workout fix at the Health Club at the Mansion House Inn, at 9 Main St., in Vineyard Haven (tel. 508/693-7400; www.mvmansionhouse.com), which accepts visitors for a $15 fee.

Golf

The 9-hole Mink Meadows Golf Course, at 320 Golf Club Rd., off Franklin Street, in Vineyard Haven (tel. 508/693-0600; www.minkmeadowsgc.com), despite occupying a top-dollar chunk of real estate, is open to the general public. There is also the semiprivate, championship-level 18-hole Farm Neck Golf Club, off Farm Neck Way, in Oak Bluffs (tel. 508/693-3057). The Cafe at Farm Neck serves a wonderful lunch overlooking the manicured greens. In season greens fees at Mink Meadows are $55 for 9 holes and $80 for 18 holes; at Farm Neck, it's $150 (including cart) for 18 holes.

Ice-Skating

The Martha's Vineyard Ice Arena, on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Vineyard Haven (tel. 508/693-4438; www.mvarena.com), offers public skating for $5 from mid-July to mid-April; call for details.

Nature Trails

About a fifth of the Vineyard's landmass has been set aside for conservation, and much of it is accessible to energetic bikers and hikers. The West Chop Woods, off Franklin Street in Vineyard Haven, comprise 85 acres with marked walking trails. Midway between Vineyard Haven and Edgartown, the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary includes a 6-mile network of trails over varying terrain, from woodland to beach. Accessible by ferry from Edgartown, quiet Chappaquiddick is home to two sizable preserves. The Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge and Wasque Reservation (www.thetrustees.org), covering much of the island's eastern barrier beach, have 709 acres that draw flocks of nesting or resting shorebirds. Also on the island, 3 miles east on Dyke Road, is another Trustees of Reservations property, the distinctly poetic and alluring Mytoi, a 14-acre Japanese garden that is an oasis of textures and flora and fauna.

The 633-acre Long Point Wildlife Refuge, off Waldron's Bottom Road, in West Tisbury (gatehouse tel. 508/693-7392; www.thetrustees.org), offers heath and dunes, freshwater ponds, a popular family-oriented beach, and interpretive nature walks for children. In season the Trustees of Reservations charges a $10 parking fee, plus $3 per person ages 16 and older. The 4,000-acre Manuel F. Correllus State Forest (www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/southeast/corr.htm) occupies a sizable, if not especially scenic, chunk mid-island; it's riddled with mountain-bike paths and riding trails. This sanctuary was created in 1908 to try to save the endangered heath hen, a species now extinct. In season there are free interpretive and birding walks.

Up-island, along the sound, the Menemsha Hills Reservation, off North Road, in Chilmark (tel. 508/693-7662), encompasses 210 acres of rocks and bluffs, with steep paths, lovely views, and even a public beach. The Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary, off Indian Hill Road, southwest of Vineyard Haven (tel. 508/693-5207), offers some 300 forested acres that end in a stony beach (alas, swimming and sunbathing are prohibited). It's still a refreshing retreat.

Some remarkable botanical surprises can be found at the 20-acre Polly Hill Arboretum, 809 State Rd., West Tisbury (tel. 508/693-9426; www.pollyhillarboretum.org). Horticulturist Polly Hill developed this property over the past 40 years and allows the public to wander the grounds daily from sunrise until sunset. There are guided tours at 2pm. The visitors center and plant sale are open 9:30am to 4:30pm. This is a magical place, particularly mid-June to July when the Dogwood Allee is in bloom. Wanderers will pass old stone walls on the way to the Tunnel of Love, an arbor of bleached hornbeam. There are also witch hazels, camellias, magnolias, and rhododendrons. To get there from Vineyard Haven, go south on State Road, bearing left at the junction of North Road. The arboretum entrance is about a half-mile down on the right. There is a requested donation of $5 for adults.

Tennis

Public courts typically charge a small fee and can be reserved in person a day in advance. You'll find clay courts on Church Street, in Vineyard Haven, and nonclay in Oak Bluffs' Niantic Park; West Tisbury's grammar school, on Old County Road; and the Chilmark Community Center, on South Road. Three public courts -- plus a basketball court, softball field, and children's playground -- are located at the Edgartown Recreation Area, on Robinson Road. You can also book a court (1 day in advance only) at a semiprivate club in Oak Bluffs: the Farm Neck Tennis Club (tel. 508/693-9728). In season expect to pay $32 per hour for singles for court time.

Watersports

Wind's Up, 199 Beach Rd., Vineyard Haven (tel. 508/693-4252; www.windsupmv.com), rents out canoes, kayaks, and various sailing craft, including sailboards, and offers instruction on-site, on a placid pond; it also rents surfboards and boogie boards. Canoes and kayaks rent for $16 per hour, $35 for a half-day, and $55 for a full day.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.