Martha’s Vineyard has many beautiful public beaches to appeal to its summer visitors. We have previously written about the stunning up island beaches in Aquinnah and Menemsha. In this update, I will elaborate on the easily accessible down-island option of South Beach, which is located in the Katama section of Edgartown.
South beach is my third choice for a public beach to visit, because it beautiful, fun and easy to get to by public bus. There are lifeguards on duty in the season, but please keep in mind that since it is on the Atlantic side, the surf and undertow can be strong. Because of this, it is a good idea to check on local conditions before planning your day – esp. if everyone in your group isn’t a strong swimmer. Of course, the surf is what makes South Beach so much fun and a popular spot with “kids” of all ages. The sandy beach is wide, and if you don’t mind walking from the parking areas, there is lots of space to spread out.
Parking and Amenities at South Beach
If you are vacationing without a car, you can grab the #8 bus from Edgartown, which runs every 15 minutes on beach days in the summer. There is a paved bike route from Edgartown to the beach as well. There are no big hills along the way, but be warned that there is a good chance you will be fighting a head wind in at least one direction! If you don’t feel like pedaling back after a day on South Beach, you can put your bike on the rack mounted on the front of the V.T.A. buses, and relax on your way back into town.
Local Tip: The left and right “forks” are the two different roads that lead through Katama and end at the two most popular beach access points. If you are taking a car, head toward the “right fork” side of the beach where there is a lot more parking.
If you would like a break from the sun, the Right Fork Diner is just a couple of miles from the beach and a great spot for lunch or ice cream. Along with a full 3 meal menu, they have delicious Soho Micro Creamery ice cream, which in my opinion, makes it worth the stop alone! The diner is also a fun stop with the kids, where you can check out the planes coming and going from the small Katama Airfield. The airfield started during World War One as a training facility for Army pilots and has been used by civilian pilots ever since. In fact, while you’re at the beach, be sure to keep on the lookout for the 1940 Waco biplane!
If you plan to stay at the beach for more than a few hours, it’s a good idea to pack your snacks and drinks to take along, as there are no concession stands at the beach. There is a great “last stop” to grab your picnic items along the way, however. The Katama General Store has killer sandwiches, salads, & drinks as well as loads of fresh baked goods to tempt you into taking them home. Or, if you are too wiped out after a day of surf and sun to cook or go out for dinner, they offer delicious homemade dinners to go!
What’s your favorite part of a day at South Beach?