Just in time for the start of summer… here are our favorite public beaches that you need to check out while on the island!
Joseph Sylvia State Beach
Two miles of beautiful, sandy beach located between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, Joseph Sylvia State Beach, often just called State Beach is a summer favorite. On one side is the beach, with mild shallow waves, while on the other side of the dunes lies Sengekontacket Pond where calm conditions provide the perfect place for tots and young kids to go crab fishing, or paddle boarding for the older kids. State Beach is also home to the famous Jaws Bridge, where on sunny days you can catch droves of people of all ages driving off, providing the perfect photo opportunity. During the high summer months and weekends, parking spaces located along the beach can fill up fast. Luckily, the location of State Beach means it is a short bike ride from both Edgartown and from Oak Bluffs. So this summer, ditch the car and strap a floaty and a picnic basket to the back of your bike and hit the beach, island style!
South Beach, often referred to as Katama Beach is a popular spot during the summer months, due to its white sand and surf. Plus, there is plentiful parking and on-duty lifeguards. If you are traveling with very young children, the saltwater pond on the other side of the dunes provides a sheltered beach, sans crashing waves. If you are looking for a very Vineyard experience, deflate your car tires and drive out along the beach up to Norton Point. Bring along a barbecue and a group of friends for the quintessential summer cookout feet from the waves. If you are planning on driving out to Norton Point, just be sure to pick up a permit with the The Trustees.
South beach is also host to the annual Edgartown Board of Trade Sand Sculpture Contest, where families or groups of friends can engage in a little friendly competition to see who can build the most creative and well-constructed sand castle. The contest, happening on August 3rd this year, features prizes for winners and honorable mentions. Be sure to check out the website for more information! South Beach is a short drive from Main Street Edgartown, or a 20-minute bike ride if you fancy a cruise along the paved bike path down to Katama.
Moshup Beach, also known as Gay Head Beach is located up-island in Aquinnah on the western side of Martha’s Vineyard. Moshup can be found between Philbin Beach and Gay Head Cliffs. Gay Head is known for its soft white sand and startling clear water. While Moshup is still a popular, its location further away from most major ports of entry to the island means that it is often more secluded from the heavy crowds that are characteristic during the summer months. And for the exhibitionists among us, part of Moshup is historically known for being clothing optional! Even if a beach day is not on the schedule, a trip up to Aquinnah is well-worth the drive if only to get a glimpse of the gorgeous Gay Head Cliffs, known for the photogenic multicolored clays, and which are listed as an Endangered National Landmark. Moshup has restroom facilities and parking is $15.
Located up-island in Chilmark, the charming fishing village of Menemsha and Menemsha Beach is another beautiful Vineyard spot. While the beach is rockier than its down-island counterparts, the surf is milder, making it perfect for youngsters. Plus, it’s really the views that make this spot special. The northern facing beach looks out into Vineyard Sound and provides views of the Elizabeth Islands. The beaches’ proximity to the casual restaurants of Menemsha is another thing that makes it the perfect spot for a beach day. Beach goers can walk into town and get fresh and delicious seafood to sustain them for the day. And while sunshine makes a beach day, it is actually the sunset that draws the crowds here. Menemsha is one of the best spots on the island to see the sunset, and is one of the few places on the East Coast where you can see the sun set over the water. So be sure to bring your camera on your next Menemsha Beach day! And during the summer months, once the sun sets the fun is only getting started! The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival screens thought-provoking movies and documentaries on the beach, so be sure to check their schedule online for ticket and event info. On-duty lifeguards and parking are provided in the summer, but as space is limited it is a good idea to get there early, or take public transportation.