Don’t Make A Fuss, Just Get On The Bus, to Up-Island!!!

Posted on June 18, 2024

Exploring Martha’s Vineyard: A Bus Journey to West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah from Oak Bluffs

Martha’s Vineyard, with its charming towns and picturesque landscapes, offers a delightful escape for travelers. One of the best ways to explore this New England gem is by taking the bus from Oak Bluffs to the quaint towns of West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah. Here’s a comprehensive guide to making the most of your journey, complete with bus routes and things to do in each destination.

Starting Point: Oak Bluffs

Oak Bluffs is a vibrant town known for its colorful gingerbread cottages, beautiful beaches, and the historic Flying Horses Carousel. Before hopping on the bus, take a stroll through the town center, visit the carousel, and maybe grab a coffee or a bite at one of the local cafes.

The Bus Ride

Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) operates reliable bus services across the island. The VTA bus routes from Oak Bluffs to West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah offer a scenic and convenient way to explore these towns. Below are the specific bus routes you’ll need:

  • Route 13: Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven (not West Tisbury)
  • Route 3: Vineyard Haven to West Tisbury
  • Route 5: Chilmark to Aquinnah,
  • Route 4: to Menemsha

Check the VTA website for the latest schedules and fares. The bus ride itself is an experience, providing glimpses of the island’s lush landscapes and coastal views.

Bathroom Stops

During your journey, here are convenient spots for bathroom breaks:

  • Vineyard Haven Steamship Authority: Upon arrival in Vineyard Haven, you can use the facilities at the Steamship Authority terminal, which is a major transportation hub on the island.
  • West Tisbury Library: While exploring West Tisbury, visit the library where facilities are available for public use.
  • Gay Head Lighthouse: At Gay Head Lighthouse, facilities may be available depending on the season and operating hours. It’s advisable to check ahead.
  • Menemsha: In Menemsha, facilities are available near the harbor area, including at Larsen’s Fish Market or nearby establishments. Check the Menemsha webcam for live views and current weather conditions.
    West Tisbury Library
    Aquinnah Bathroom
    Menemsha Bathroom

MV-Innsider Tips

Before heading “up-island” (to West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah), check the webcams to see if it’s foggy. Martha’s Vineyard is known for its microclimates, and fog can sometimes roll in unexpectedly, especially along the cliffs and coastal areas of Aquinnah. Checking webcams can give you a better idea of current weather conditions and visibility.

First Stop: West Tisbury

West Tisbury is a charming, rural town that embodies the serene beauty of Martha’s Vineyard.

Things to Do in West Tisbury:

  1. Alley’s General Store: Known as the oldest operating retailer on the island, this store is a must-visit for unique souvenirs and local products.
  2. West Tisbury Farmers’ Market: If you’re visiting on a Wednesday or Saturday, don’t miss the farmers’ market at the Grange Hall. Here, you can find fresh produce, local crafts, and delicious treats.
  3. Polly Hill Arboretum: Explore this 70-acre arboretum featuring a diverse collection of plants and trees. It’s a perfect spot for a peaceful walk and a bit of nature photography.
  4. Field Gallery: This outdoor sculpture garden and indoor gallery is a delightful spot for art enthusiasts. The gallery features whimsical sculptures by local artists, offering a unique and enjoyable experience.
  5. Vineyard Artisans Festivals: If your visit coincides with one of their events, the Vineyard Artisans Festivals are a must-see. These festivals showcase the work of local artists and craftsmen, offering everything from handmade jewelry to fine art.
    Alley’s General Store
    Field Gallery

Next Stop: Chilmark

Chilmark is known for its rolling hills, stone walls, and beautiful coastline.

Things to Do in Chilmark:

  1. Menemsha: This small fishing village offers stunning views, especially at sunset. Enjoy fresh seafood at the Menemsha Fish Market or Larsen’s Fish Market, and take a stroll along the docks.
  2. Chilmark General Store: A great place to stop for a snack or a meal, this store has a variety of local goods and delicious prepared foods.
  3. Great Rock Bight: This conservation area offers a beautiful and relatively secluded beach, perfect for hiking, swimming, and picnicking. The trail leading to the beach is scenic and provides stunning views of the Vineyard Sound.
  4. Chilmark Flea Market: Held by the Chilmark Community Church, this flea market is a beloved island tradition. It features a variety of vendors offering antiques, crafts, jewelry, and more. It’s a great place to find unique treasures and support the local community.

Final Stop: Aquinnah

Aquinnah, formerly known as Gay Head, is famous for its stunning clay cliffs and rich Native American heritage.

Things to Do in Aquinnah:

  1. Aquinnah Cliffs: These majestic cliffs are a must-see. There are viewing platforms that offer breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding area.
  2. Gay Head Lighthouse: Located near the cliffs, this historic lighthouse offers tours and has a small museum. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the island.
  3. Moshup Beach: A short walk from the cliffs, this beach is known for its clear waters and smooth, colorful stones. It’s a peaceful spot to relax and soak up the natural beauty.
    Aquinnah Cliffs

Practical Tips

  • Bus Schedule: Check the VTA schedule in advance and plan your trip accordingly. Buses may run less frequently during off-peak seasons.
  • Dress Comfortably: Wear comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for walking and exploring.
  • Bring Essentials: Carry water, snacks, sunscreen, and a camera to capture the scenic beauty.

Taking the bus from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven, West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah is a fantastic way to experience the diverse charm of Martha’s Vineyard. Each town has its unique attractions and offers a glimpse into the island’s rich history and natural splendor. So, hop on the bus and enjoy your journey through this enchanting island!

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We are on our way home after a 3 night stay at the Inn. We had a wonderful time and most of it thanks to our host Eric. He goes above and beyond for his patrons. Eric helped us maximize our trip by making recommendations and planning our day. I stupidly left my hat at a bar one night and Eric magically tracked it down and returned it to me while getting us to a ferry on time! I would love to stay here again and encourage you to do so. The atmosphere is welcoming and fun! You feel like family by the end of the trip.

Lisa Palotta Smith