Our day trip to Martha’s Vineyard had its ups and downs. Our plan was to take the ferry and then rent bikes to do our exploring. In the end it was fun, but extremely exhausting.
We got up late – as usual. If you know us, you know we are not morning people! Fortunately, we made it to Woods Hole in plenty of time to buy our tickets and find a place in line to board the 10:45 ferry. After a short wait, we boarded the ferry and found a spot on the top deck to take in the sights.
We arrived at the Vineyard Haven port on the island around 11:30 a.m. After letting the crowds disembark, we made our way off the ferry. We took the short three-minute walk to Martha’s Bike Rentals so we could finally get the day started. They offer a few different options for bike rentals, but we opted for two hybrid style bikes at $27.50 for the day which includes a helmet, basket, and lock.
We thought the staff at the bike rental place was a little too casual, and not particularly helpful. The woman who checked us in sketched out a recommended route on the novelty map of the island. It looked like a nice little ride down to South Beach State Park on the south east end of the island. We headed to Oak Bluffs first. Unfortunately, you have to start the ride be jumping right into traffic, so it is a little stressful to start, especially for anyone who doesn’t ride regularly like us.
After finding the bike path, the trip to Oak Bluffs wasn’t too bad. We missed a turn to see the East Chop Lighthouse, so we took a slight detour back to see it. The lighthouse is a white tower in a residential neighborhood. There were a handful of other visitors, including a family laying out for a nap. After taking some pictures and having a quick snack, we headed back down to the village.
In Oak Bluffs, we parked the bikes and walked around the town for a while. We stopped in some of the shops, walked around the “gingerbread houses” – a fairy tale-like area lined with pastel colored cottages with dainty trimmings – and ate lunch at Big Dipper Café. After lunch, we headed back out on the bike path.
We rode past some beautiful scenery. First beaches and marshes, then pastures and wooded areas. As we rode on, it became apparent that the map was not to scale, and we were going much farther than we had anticipated. The route wasn’t quite the “nice little ride” the lady at the rental place made it out to be. We had thought about stopping at one of the beaches we passed along the way, but we didn’t see anywhere to change into our swimming suits, so we kept on our path, determined to make it through Edgartown and down to South Beach State Park. By the time we got there, we were tired, kind of cranky, and definitely ready to relax.
We sat on the beach for about an hour. I ventured into the ocean for a few minutes, but it was too cold to stay in for long. We were supposed to be back to the rental place by 6:00 p.m. when it closed, so we left the beach to head back. By 5:30, we realized there was no way we would make it back, so we called and made arrangements to lock the bike up outside the shop when got back to Vineyard Haven.
At that point, we were both totally exhausted and sore. Luckily, we would pass right by a Mexican Restaurant called Sharky’s, so we stopped in to replenish. The food and service were good and there was a brewery called Bad Martha’s right next door. We stopped in the brewery after dinner and tried a flight of their beer. The relaxing atmosphere of the patio was just what we needed.
We reluctantly got back on our bikes, since we really had no other choice. We considered taking the bus, but it required exact change and we didn’t have it. It seriously felt like we rode uphill the whole way back! (We checked Google Maps later, and we ended up riding about 24 miles that day, mostly on an incline!) We did see some cool things on that trip back to the bike rental place. The presidential motorcade went by us! We also saw some wild turkeys, which I thought was pretty cool.
We made it back to the Martha’s Bike Rental just as the sun was setting and the street lights were starting to come on. We locked up the bikes and had just one goal in mind – to find ice cream. We stopped in a shop to buy some postcards and asked the clerk for her recommendation. We ended up at Mad Martha’s Ice Cream Shop. Mike said it was the best mint ice cream he ever had and my pistachio cone was pretty amazing too.
We had just enough time to eat our cones before getting in line for the 8:45 p.m. ferry back to Woods Hole. We mostly stayed inside on the way back, but at the very end of the ride, we went outside on the deck to see the clear night sky and a big bright orange moon. The perfect way to end the trip.
Martha’s Vineyard is known for being a playground for the affluent, a place where the president vacations, and where the movie Jaws was filmed. We will remember it as the beautiful island off the coast Massachusetts where we exhausted ourselves on rental bikes!