Travel to Martha’s Vineyard the Rhody Way

Maximize a summer visit with RI Fast Ferry service from Quonset to Oak Bluffs


Motivated by our annual July watching of Jaws, a few summers ago my best friend and I decided to take a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Assuming our options were either New Bedford or Woods Hole, MA, we opted for the latter and set out very early. Once we arrived, we parked the car in one of the lots and boarded a shuttle bus for the ferry. All went smoothly, except for the ride home where we briefly panicked because we hadn’t thought to note our parking lot, but I digress. We enjoyed our day on the vineyard, followed by the ferry ride, shuttle bus, and 90-minute drive home.

Fast-forward to discovering Rhode Island Fast Ferry. Located at Quonset Point, the high-speed ferry operates from late-May through August and is a day-tripper’s dream. There is a five-acre parking lot and once aboard, the trip takes approximately 95-105 minutes. For seating, there’s a sundeck, or sit comfortably inside where it’s air conditioned. There are also snacks, beverages, and a full bar. It’s the perfect time to map out where you want to go. (Pro-tip: bring cash for the lot and make advance reservations at

To the uninitiated, Martha’s Vineyard is an island off the coast of Massachusetts; it’s 125 square miles in total and has six towns: Aquinnah (formerly known as Gay Head), Chilmark, Edgartown, Vineyard Haven, West Tisbury, and Oak Bluffs – which is where the fast ferry arrives and departs. The island has a convenient and inexpensive bus system, which is a great way to explore the island without a car. Consider making the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) your first stop and purchase a day pass. Be mindful of travel times as you plot your day, as a cross-island trek may include a transfer and take some time, but can be worth the immersive experience. Uber and Lyft are available but note surge pricing.

Since discovering Rhode Island Fast Ferry, I aim to visit Martha’s Vineyard every summer, each time pinpointing a different area to explore. Some of my personal favorites have been shopping home goods (even taking a workshop) at the beautiful Morrice Florist in Vineyard Haven; wandering the colorful cottages known for their gingerbread architectural details at Oak Bluffs Campground (a former Methodist retreat, not a camping area) and visiting its Cottage Museum; enjoying sandwiches while hoping to spot celebs at Chilmark General Store (the goal was Jake Gyllenhaal; alas, we saw Alan Dershowitz); discovering the quiet charms of Menemsha fishing village; being surrounded by the scent of honeysuckle while taking in stunning views on the cliffs of Aquinnah; and seeking locations from Jaws. Some jaunts have been overnights, and always include lobster rolls (unless it’s the Salmon BLT at The Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven, or Edgartown for smash burgers at Wicked Burger, or lobster bisque at Alchemy), ice cream, unique shopping like Martha’s Vineyard Made for a range of goods made locally, and galleries. If timed just right, the ferry ride home offers the perfect sunset while reviewing the countless photos snapped of a great time. For more ideas of things to do, visit the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce online at


Vineyard Gem: Island Alpaca

Tours, walks, workshops, and yoga are among the offerings at Island Alpaca, a farm nestled in Vineyard Haven boasting over 50 Huacaya alpaca.
Pre-game your visit by checking the Alpaca Cam at


Shore Things

For the most current list of must-dos, Marnely Murray and Angela Prout, of MV-based marketing firm Shored Up Digital, offered some best bets.

  • From the ferry in Oak Bluffs, head to Aalia’s for lunch and coffee (try their Iced Cardamom Mocha), Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company for a lobster roll with bacon and preserved lemon, and Offshore Ale for local brews. Book a tour with the MV African-American Heritage Trail and explore island history.
  • Take the bus into Edgartown and visit Edgartown Books, take a walk down to the Edgartown Lighthouse, or visit the Carnegie Heritage Center for a look into the history of the island. Grab a Fisherman’s Platter at Town Bar & Grill, and enjoy the gorgeous hydrangeas.
  • Jump on the bus again and head to Vineyard Haven, where you can get delicious burgers and lobster rolls at The Attic, Mad Martha’s Ice Cream, and great shopping at locally owned stores like Conrado and Rainy Day.


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