This was my first time up island!! Past visits to Martha's Vineyard always brought me to the down island hustle of Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. The remote towns of Chilmark and Aquinnah provide an entirely different Martha's Vineyard experience. They are quiet and calming with sprawling farmlands and headlands leading to some of the most gorgeous beaches I've ever encountered. Seriously!
Menemsha is a dreamy little fishing village in the town of Chilmark. No matter where the days adventures take you, everyone gathers at Mememsha Beach for the epic cotton candy sunsets with lobster dinners from the neighboring fish markets. People swear by the seafood at Larsen's, but we ended up at Menemsha Fish Market simply to avoid a long line. Their raw bar and all things lobster: bisque, whole steamed + the hot lobster roll were terrific. I wouldn't hesitate to head there if Larsen's has a crowd. Seafood doesn't get any fresher than a dockside fish market so as long as you hit one up you're doing Menemsha right!
We stayed at The Menemsha Inn. Based on the impeccable website and the hefty midweek price tag ($340/night and we picked the least expensive room at the Teahouse), we expected more. On the positive side, the inn itself is lovely with grounds and gardens that are peaceful and well maintained. It is conveniently walkable to the harbor beach via a winding path that slopes down the hill and opens up to a beautiful marsh. They serve lemonade and fresh baked cookies daily. Our plush king size bed was super comfy. On the contrary - the bathroom ceiling paint peeling off in large chunks and the cushions on our patio furniture steeped with mold felt like they overlooked some key details. Our room came with wine glasses but not a wine opener - I had to sign my life away at the front desk to borrow one (easy win for the inn: provide each room a wine key). Nowhere on the website did it mention bike rentals were extra ($10/day) but the bikes are old, rickety and rusty so they didn't charge us, which was fair.
Essentially, if this were a $200/night hotel I might not blink at any of these annoyances (because we had such an amazing time) but this room was expensive; I felt it was only fair to note for those looking to plan a trip. Expectations can be everything.
The Mememsha Inn's sister property The Beach Plum Inn has a picturesque restaurant that serves breakfast from 7:30 - 10:30am. Whether you are a guest a the property or not, I'd recommend stopping in for their breakfast with a view - my Portuguese Bread French Toast and Bob's Pastrami Eggs Benedict were really tasty.
Staying at The Menamsha Inn gives you access to Chilmark's renowned Lucy Vincent or Squibnocket beaches. A big deal was made to take the walk on pass though ("THIS IS A $100 PASS, DO NOT LOOSE IT." Okay, okay, I got it!) I quickly came to realize this pass is a big deal as you cannot walk onto the beach or park in their lot without one. LVB is also known for her nude sunbathing section. I've been to beaches all over and I'm telling you, Lucy Vincent is unparalleled. The shoreline is breathtaking with cliffs outstretched on one end, a classic dunescape reaching towards the other and the water is pure comfort - warm yet refreshing and crystal clear with the perfect waves to drift around on or bodysurf.
If you do not bring a car on island the VTA Transit system has you covered. With 13 routes the buses are reliable even though the schedule can be tricky to navigate from one side of the island to the other. From Oak Bluffs to Menemsha for example it is three buses and will take you over an hour. (It's about 45 minutes with a car, I believe.) If you were up island for longer than two days you'd probably want to bring or rent a car. Also, many of the roads in Chilmark are NOT bike friendly. There are dangerous blind turns which we were warned when checking in that bikers have no business being on. I didn't expect this. So even though it's remote, there are just a few main roads that see plenty of car traffic.
And the final big tip if you are headed up Island: These are all dry towns so plan accordingly! (This means there are no liquor stores and the restaurants do not serve alcohol. Most are BYOB.) We packed our Yeti cooler with about 15 cans of beer, two bottles of wine (1 Sancerre, 1 Rosé), and 2 flasks of gin, plus a tonic water. It basically went like this - a couple cans of beer on the beach each day, gin+tonics for happy hour at the inn or the harbor docks in town, and a bottle of wine with dinner each night!
I have a lot more MV vacation fun and recommendations that I hope to get around to soon! I hope you all are having a wonderful summer and enjoying the heat wave!