The down-island towns of Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown are fairly compact, and if your inn is located in the heart of one of these small towns, you will be within walking distance of shopping, beaches, and attractions in town. Frequent shuttle buses can whisk you to the other down-island towns and beaches in 5 to 15 minutes. To explore the up-island towns, you will need to bike; it's possible to tour the entire island -- 60-some-odd miles -- in 1 day. In season you can also take the shuttle bus up-island. Otherwise you will have to take a cab.
You shouldn’t leave without exploring the Vineyard on two wheels, even if only for a couple of hours. There’s a little of everything for cyclists, from paved paths to hilly country roads, and you don’t have to be an expert rider to enjoy yourself. Plus, biking is a relatively hassle-free way to get around the island.
What’s unique about biking on Martha’s Vineyard is that you’ll find not only the smooth, well-maintained paths indigenous to the Cape, but also long stretches of road with virtually no traffic that, while rough in spots, pass through breathtaking country landscapes with sweeping ocean views. It is only a few miles but a very scenic ride between Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs. A few more miles gets you to Edgartown along a nice flat bike path.
Bike rental operations are ubiquitous near the ferry landings in Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs, and there are also a few outfits in Edgartown. Bike rentals cost about $28 to $38 a day. In Vineyard Haven, try Martha’s Bike Rentals, Lagoon Pond Road (tel. 800/559-0312 or 508/693-6593). In Oak Bluffs, there’s Anderson’s, Circuit Avenue Extension (tel. 508/693-9346), which rents bikes only; and Sun ‘n’ Fun, 26 Lake Ave. (tel. 508/693-5457). In Edgartown you’ll find bikes at R. W. Cutler Edgartown Bike Rentals, 1 Main St. (tel. 800/627-2763); and Wheel Happy, with two locations, at 204 Upper Main St. and 8 S. Water St., both in Edgartown (tel. 508/627-5928).
The chamber of commerce has a great bike map available at its office on Beach Road, in Vineyard Haven.
The number of accidents involving mopeds seems to rise every year, and many islanders are opposed to these vehicles. If you rent one, be aware they are considered quite dangerous on the island’s busy, narrow, winding, sandy roads. Moped renting is banned in Edgartown, and there is a movement to ban mopeds on the island entirely. To rent a moped, try Adventure Rentals, Beach Road (tel. 508/693-1959). In Oak Bluffs, there’s Sun ‘n’ Fun, 26 Lake Ave. (tel. 508/693-5457).
If you’re coming to the Vineyard for a few days and you’re going to stick to the down-island towns, it’s best to leave your car at home—traffic and parking can be brutal in summer. If you’re staying longer or want to explore up-island, bring your car or rent one on the island (my favorite way to tour the Vineyard is by Jeep). Keep in mind that car rental rates soar during peak season and gas is expensive. All the national car rental chains have desks at the airport and offices in Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs. Local agencies also operate out of all three port towns; in Vineyard Haven, you’ll find Adventure Rentals, Beach Road (tel. 508/693-1959), where a regular car costs about $140 per day; a Jeep will run you about $199 to $249 per day in season. In Edgartown, try AAA Island Rentals, 31 Circuit Ave. (tel. 508/627-6800); they’re also at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven (tel. 508/696-5300).
By Shuttle Bus & Trolley
The Martha’s Vineyard Regional Transit Authority (tel. 508/693-9440) operates shuttle buses year-round on about a dozen routes around the island. The buses, which are white with purple logos, cost about $2 to $5 depending on distance. The formula is $1 per town. For example, Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs is $2, but Vineyard Haven to Edgartown (passing through Oak Bluffs) is $3. A 1-day pass is $7, and a 3-day pass is $15. The main down-island stops are Vineyard Haven (near the ferry terminal), Oak Bluffs (near the Civil War statue, in Ocean Park), and Edgartown (Church Street, near the Old Whaling Church). From late June to early September, they run frequently—from 6am to midnight, every 15 minutes or half-hour. Hours are reduced in spring and fall.
In Edgartown, there’s a Downtown Shuttle that circles throughout town, and South Beach buses circle that head out to South Beach every 20 minutes in season. Both stop at the free parking lots just north of the town center, which means you won’t waste your time circling downtown Edgartown vainly searching for a parking spot. Buses also go out to Aquinnah year-round (via the airport, West Tisbury, and Chilmark), leaving every couple of hours from down-island towns and looping about every hour through up-island towns. The trip from one of the down island towns to Aquinnah is $5 to $6.25, depending on which town.
Upon arrival, you’ll find taxis at all ferry terminals and at the airport, and there are permanent taxi stands in Oak Bluffs (at the Flying Horses Carousel) and Edgartown (next to the Town Wharf). Most taxi outfits operate cars as well as vans for larger groups and travelers with bikes. Cab companies on the island include AdamCab (tel. 800/360-8629 or 508/627-4462), Martha’s Vineyard Taxi (tel. 508/693-8660), and Atlantic Taxi (tel. 508/693-7110). Rates from town to town in summer are generally flat fees based on where you’re headed and the number of passengers on board. A trip from Vineyard Haven to Edgartown would probably cost around $23 for two people. Late-night revelers should keep in mind that rates double after midnight until 7am.
The Chappaquiddick Ferry
The On-Time ferry (tel. 508/627-9427) runs the 5-minute trip from Memorial Wharf, on Dock Street in Edgartown, to Chappaquiddick Island (a distance of about 500 ft.) from June to mid-October daily, every 5 minutes from 6:45am to midnight. Passengers, bikes, mopeds, dogs, and cars (3 at a time) are all welcome. A round-trip is $3 per person, $10 for one car/one driver, $6 for one bike/one person.
For a 2 1/2-hour bus tour of the island, call Martha’s Vineyard Sightseeing Bus Tours (tel. 508/627-8687). The buses are stationed at the ferry terminals in Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs from late May to the end of September. Tours are $33 per person.
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.