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Martha’s Vineyard History: What You Need to Know

Martha's Vineyard HistoryThere are many things that make Martha’s Vineyard so special to those who live on or visit the island. The island is home to lovely towns, picturesque beaches, wonderful restaurants and more. Martha’s Vineyard history is another thing that intrigues and interests visitors and residents alike. The rich history of the Vineyard is well known and many historic buildings still exist today. So, we’re here to teach you just a little bit about Martha’s Vineyard history so you’ll know some background information the next time you visit!

Early Exploration

The original inhabitants of Martha’s Vineyard were the Wampanoag, who called the island “Noepe” in their language. This means “land amid the streams.” At one point, there were almost three thousand Wampanoag on the island but their numbers dwindled down to about three hundred in the 1700s. The island’s name came from the English explorer, Bartholomew Gosnold, who actually christened a smaller island to the south Martha’s Vineyard in 1602. It is thought that he named the island this in honor of his mother-in-law or his daughter, who were both named Martha. The name eventually transferred to the larger island.

English Settlement

In 1642, Thomas Mayhew began the first English settlement on Martha’s Vineyard at Great Harbor. As he settled the island, Mayhew converted many of the Native American neighbors, the Hiacoomes, to Christianity. This included the spiritual and political leaders of the tribe. Eventually, the settlement was put under the jurisdiction of the Province of New York and incorporated into Dukes County, which was subsequently transferred to the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Still today Martha’s Vineyard is located in Dukes County, Massachusetts.

The 19th Century

Like the neighboring island of Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard came to prominence in the 19th century because o the whaling industry. Ships traveled to hunt whales for oil and blubber. However, the industry almost collapsed in 1870 because of the discovery of less expensive petroleum in the state of Pennsylvania. This meant the costly oil derived from the whales was no longer needed to light lamps. Summer residences began to develop on the island starting in 1872 when the Old Colony railroad came to the mainland of Massachusetts at Woods Hole. It was then that Martha’s Vineyard history and the island’s reputation became that of a resort community for tourists and the wealthy.


Today Martha’s Vineyard is well known for being the perfect getaway destination. With quaint towns and beautiful beaches, it’s easy to see why so many people flock to the island to enjoy some time away from their everyday lives. And enjoying Martha’s Vineyard history can be a great part of that experience. For instance, a visit to the Old Whaling Church is a good way to take in some history. And the Martha’s Vineyard Museum is always worth a visit.

When you want to have a wonderful Martha’s Vineyard experience, then you should consider one of the many Sandpiper Rentals properties on the island. We have vacation homes all over the Vineyard, so you can be near all of the attractions you want to be near. Or, you can find a property that is a bit more isolated for some serious rest and relaxation. The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to finding the ideal place to call your home-away-from-home while you’re on Martha’s Vineyard. We can’t wait to see you soon!

6 Great Reasons to Visit Oak Bluffs MA Soon

Oak Bluffs MAThere are many great places on Martha’s Vineyard to explore. Quaint towns, beautiful coastline, and pristine landscapes beckon visitors from far and wide. One place you need to make time to visit is Oak Bluffs MA. This Martha’s Vineyard town is full of old fashioned charm and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. Oak Bluffs is home to several impressive points of interest as well as one of the best beaches on Martha’s Vineyard. So,  during your Martha’s Vineyard getaway, be sure to plan a visit to Oak Bluffs MA for some great fun!

1. Oak Bluffs Campground

One of the first things that comes to mind when people think of Oak Bluffs MA is Oak Bluffs Campground and the charming and whimsical gingerbread cottages found there. These 19th Century buildings make you feel like you’ve stepped back into another place and time. The atmosphere at the campground is serene and utterly relaxing. There is no hustle and bustle here. Oak Bluffs Campground is the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll while you admire the colorful and intricate details of these cottages. You’ll be hard pressed to pick just one favorite!

2. Ocean Park

Ocean Park is another must-see location in Oak Bluffs MA. The park is beautifully kept and makes the perfect backdrop for leisurely walks, bike rides, and general enjoyment of the Martha’s Vineyard scenery. It’s right on the water, so there are amazing views of the ocean.

3. East Chop Lighthouse

One of several iconic Martha’s Vineyard lighthouses, East Chop Lighthouse in Oak Bluffs MA is a great site to visit. There is plenty of space to walk around and get pictures of the light and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

4. Joseph Sylvia State Beach

Joseph Sylvia State Beach is one of the best beaches on Martha’s Vineyard. With a clean sandy shoreline, gentle surf, and serene atmosphere, it’s the perfect beach to visit when you want to spend some time relaxing and soaking up some sun.

5. Island Alpaca Company

For a unique Martha’s Vineyard experience, head to the Island Alpaca Company. You can visit with these unusual looking yet adorable creatures and learn more about them. They even have an annual shearing day where you can see the Alpacas be shorn and have their fleece collected to make garments and other items!

6. Flying Horses Carousel

The Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs MA is the oldest operating platform carousel in the nation. It has been named a national landmark by the Department of the interior. The carousel was built in 1876 by Charles Dare and originally started out as a Coney Island, NY ride. This picturesque carousel is a delight to both children and adults with its handcrafted horses and decorations.

No matter what you decide to do in Oak Bluffs MA, you’ll have a great visit to Martha’s Vineyard when you choose one of Sandpiper Rentals‘ gorgeous properties. With houses all over the island, you can choose to stay near whichever town or beach you want to. All of the houses are unique in their own way, but they’ll all provide you with a comfortable stay and wonderful memories. Our Martha’s Vineyard rental properties will make all the difference in your time on the island. We can’t wait to hear from you soon!

Photo: Barry Peters via Flickr on Creative Commons

4 Fun Things to Do on Martha’s Vineyard

Things to Do on Martha's VineyardThere are many reasons why Martha’s Vineyard has become one of the top vacation destinations in the country. People are drawn to the quaint towns, beautiful beaches, picturesque landscape, and island living in general. Another reason the island is so popular is that there are so many things to do on Martha’s Vineyard. Whether you want to experience fine dining, lounge on the beach, see the sights, or take a tour, you’ll never run out of things to do on Martha’s Vineyard.

Visit Area Beaches

One of the best things to do on Martha’s Vineyard is to visit one of the island’s many beaches. Martha’s Vineyard beaches are diverse in their sizes and features, so everyone has a favorite. Joseph A. Sylvia State Beach is great for swimming and also has a bike path. Katama Beach is another popular beach where you’ll find sweeping dunes, nice waves, and plenty of parking. For a more isolated beach going experience, you might want to head to Moshup Beach or East Beach for some solitude.

Enjoy Fine Dining

Another of the great things to do on Martha’s Vineyard is to dine at one of the amazing restaurants on the island. No matter what kind of food you’re in the mood for, there will be at least one establishment that will fulfill your appetite. The Red Cat Kitchen is a great restaurant in Oak Bluffs with a Contemporary American menu and great seafood.  If you’re up-island, then State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury is the place to go. In Edgartown, L’etoile gets rave reviews for its French and American cuisine. There are stellar restaurants in other areas of the island as well.

Visit the Island’s Lighthouses

Lighthouses are an iconic part of the Martha’s Vineyard landscape. It only makes sense that one of the popular things to do on Martha’s Vineyard is to visit the area’s lighthouses. These lights have been a part of the island for centuries and luckily they’re still standing today. The five lighthouses on the island also represent on of the most diverse varieties of lighthouse types in such a contained area. So, find the perfect photo op and visit one of the following Martha’s Vineyard lighthouses!

  • Gay Head Lighthouse | Aquinnah
  • West Chop Lighthouse | Vineyard Haven
  • East Chop Lighthouse | Oak Bluffs
  • Edgartown Lighthouse | Edgartown
  • Cape Poge Lighthouse | Chappaquiddick

Take to The Water

A great way to explore the island is by sea. Whether you want to kayak or take a boat tour, there are many ways to enjoy Martha’s Vineyard from the water. Sailing charters are always a fun activity that gets you out on the water so you can see the beauty of Martha’s Vineyard’s coast. Mad Max Sailing Adventures‘ state-of-the-art Catamaran departs out of Edgartown twice every day and Martha’s Vineyard Leisure Boat Charters in Oak Bluffs has several different tours to choose from. There are also many other sailing charters you can take advantage of. If you’d rather see the coastline by kayak, then Martha’s Vineyard Eco Adventures or Island Spirit Kayak will guide you on unforgettable trips!

No matter which of these things to do on Martha’s Vineyard you decide to take part in, you can be sure your time on the island is both comfortable and memorable when you choose to stay at a Sandpiper Rentals property. Our vacation homes feature luxurious accommodations in prized locations, so you can stay in style anywhere on the island. We know that you’ll have a great getaway to The Vineyard during your stay in with Sandpiper Rentals!