Tag Archives: things to do on marthas vineyard

Why is the Gay Head Light So Famous?

Gay Head Light

If you’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard, you’ve probably heard someone mention the Gay Head Light.  This 170-foot tall lighthouse, located in Aquinnah, first opened in 1799.  A few years before, in 1796, Senator Peleg Coffin requested the lighthouse be built to guide ships past a dangerous range of underwater rocks known as “The Devil’s Bridge.”  They undertook a study to determine its necessity and found that more than 80,000 ships passed that particular area every year.  In 1798, the United States Congress under President John Adams (a Massachusetts native!) approved the lighthouse’s construction.

The Gay Head Light almost met its ruin in the 1970s and 1980s.  The U.S. Coast Guard, the group charged with maintaining the lighthouses, designated the Gay Head Light for destruction (along with two other Martha’s Vineyard lighthouses: East Chop and the Edgartown Harbor Light).  Lighthouses, it seems, are expensive to maintain – and thanks to the increasing prevalence of satellite navigation systems, they’re also largely surplus to requirements these days.  Thankfully, people took notice of its impending destruction and stood up to save this beautiful structure.

Saving the Gay Head Light

The Vineyard Environmental Research Institute (VERI) petitioned the government to obtain control of the lighthouses.  In 1985, the U.S. Coast Guard transferred control of all three lighthouses (Gay Head, East Chop, and Edgartown Harbor Light) to VERI, who took control of management and maintenance.  This marked the first time in American history that the government has transferred control of an active lighthouse to a private institution.  In 1994, VERI transferred the light to the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society (now known as the Martha’s Vineyard Museum).

In 1985 (before it transferred to the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society), VERI and a litany of private donors set about restoring the lighthouse: replacing broken glass, removing toxic mold, fixing issues with the bricks, and so on.  Since then, the lighthouse has hosted a number of famous visitors, the most notable being the Obamas, who received a guided tour in August of 2009 (making Barack Obama the second president, after Calvin Coolidge, to tour the Gay Head Light).  Other famous visitors include comedian, Dennis Miller; Senator Ted Kennedy and his daughter, Caroline Kennedy; singer/songwriter, Carly Simon; and many more.

In mid-2015, the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee worked with the town of Aquinnah to relocate the lighthouse 129 feet from its original location.  Its current location is a safe distance from the eroding cliffs (180 feet), and geologists estimate it won’t be threatened again until the 2160s.

Visiting the Gay Head Light

The Gay Head Light has been open to the public since it opened.  Today, the lighthouse gives guided tours during the summer months (July – October 12th, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., and some Thursday evenings).  Tickets are $5 for adults.  Museum members and children get in free.  To learn more about the Gay Head Light, visit the Martha’s Vineyard Museum website.

If you’re heading this way, give the Sandpiper Rentals website a thorough look.  We offer outstanding property rentals across Martha’s Vineyard.  Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve probably got it.  If you need help with your search, don’t hesitate to send us an email.  We’ll be more than happy to assist you!

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!

Where is Martha’s Vineyard and Why Should I Visit?

Where is Martha's VineyardMartha’s Vineyard has long been a popular getaway destination and for good reason. It has everything you could want in a vacation spot: beautiful beaches, scenic vistas, quaint towns, and delectable dining. But, if you’ve never been to the Vineyard before or you aren’t familiar with the area, you may be asking the question, “Where is Martha’s Vineyard?” Well, we here at Sandpiper Rentals are here to answer that question and give you some insight into why you should visit this amazing place.

Where is Martha’s Vineyard?

Martha’s Vineyard is an island off the coast of Massachusetts, seven miles south of Cape Cod. It’s well known as a summer colony. The Vineyard measures about 100 square miles in area and is the third largest island on the East Coast of the United States. The island is only accessible by boat or air from the mainland. Though it is primarily known as a summer destination, with the population growing to almost 100,000 people during the season, the year-round population of the island has grown in recent years. The island includes Chappaquiddick, which is sometimes separated from the main island by storms, but is currently linked.

Places on Martha’s Vineyard

Now that you know the answer to the question, “Where is Martha’s Vineyard?” you may want to know a  bit more about the island. Martha’s Vineyard can be separated into six towns. Each town has its own unique atmosphere and features, but all of the towns boast that signature Martha’s Vineyard aesthetic and feeling that vacationers have come to love.

  • Tisbury: Located at the top of the island, most people come to Martha’s Vineyard through Tisbury or Oak Bluffs. Vineyard Haven is the main village in Tisbury.
  • Edgartown: Edgartown includes the island of Chappaquiddick as well as Katama. This is the largest town on the island and has a rich whaling history.
  • Oak Bluffs: Known for the gingerbread cottages and open harbor, Oak Bluffs has a reputation for having a vibrant nightlife.
  • West Tisbury: Martha’s Vineyard’s agricultural center, West Tisbury hosts the annual Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair each year in August.
  • Chilmark: Chilmark is one the island’s more rural towns and has a beautiful hilly terrain.
  • Aquinnah: The westernmost town on the island, Aquinnah is home to the famous Gay Head Lighthouse and the Aquinnah Cliffs. This is the ancestral home of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head.

Staying on Martha’s Vineyard

Whatever your plans on Martha’s Vineyard entail, your time on the island will be enhanced by a stay at one of our gorgeous rental properties. We have rentals in Aquinnah, Chappaquiddick, Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and West Tisbury. So, whether you want to be in the middle of the action in Downtown Edgartown or a bit more isolated in the secluded Aquinnah area, we have your needs covered.  With both new construction and splendidly kept classic houses, Sandpiper Rentals’ properties include features like open floor plan kitchens, luxurious bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, decks perfect for sunning and taking in the sites, and even swimming pools. And with many properties being in waterfront locations, you’ll never be too far from all the fun that the Atlantic Ocean promises during the summer. We look forward to seeing you soon!