Getting a car to the island can be a challenging and expensive task that overwhelms potential visitors to Martha’s Vineyard before they have even started their trip planning! There is unnecessary angst around the logistics, however. With advance planning, a reservation for the ferry is not really difficult to obtain. But if the task seems daunting, you can circumvent it by leaving the car at home. In fact, if you are coming for a short visit in the height of season, we recommend leaving the car behind (or at least at a parking lot on the Cape!)
Once you are here, there are numerous transportation options to get you around Martha’s Vineyard.
Take a Bus
The public transportation system on Martha’s Vineyard is truely remarkable. The buses are clean, safe, and generally on time! And did we mention that it is inexpensive? It is $1/town for adults riding the Vineyard Transit Authority (V.T.A.), or you can get a multiple day pass which is even more economical.
Rent a Car
There is really no need to have a car when you are “down island”, because it is easy to get between the down island towns (Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, & Vineyard Haven) by bus, bike, or a short taxi ride. If you want the convenience and independence that a car offers when you explore, however, without the expense of bringing one to the island, sometimes it makes sense to rent a car for the day (or the whole week). We just recommend that you check to make sure that parking will be available where you are staying.
Bike to Town
If you would like to be environmentally while you are here, biking is a fun way to get around. It is only 3 miles between Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs, and an additional 5 miles to Edgartown. Martha’s Vineyard is bicycle friendly with over 44 miles of bikes paths around the island. If you are a less experienced bicyclist, you may want to combine the buses and biking, as the island is almost 100 square miles. Biking up-island to the towns of Aquinnah and Chilmark offer a challenge, for experienced bicyclists. Along with distance, these destinations offer the added challenges of hilly terrain, narrow shoulders on the roads, and so bike paths after you pass West Tisbury.
Take a Taxi
Taxis proliferate on Martha’s Vineyard and are always an option if you are in a hurry. Ask your hotel staff or realtor to recommend a service, as there are some great, reliable taxi companies on the island; but they are not all created equal. If you are looking for a taxi from the ferry, there are some meeting every ferry service. If you don’t want to share a taxi with a lot of strangers, however, you can call in advance and line-up a private taxi to meet you when you get off the boat, for the same price (highly recommended).
Bus and Van Tours
If you prefer to be guided around the island, there are many services available and friendly guides who are happy to oblige. Bus tours leave on a regular basis from Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven in the summer and can be a good way to get to see “Up-Island” (Aquinnah and the clay cliffs!). Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to stop along the way. A Van Tour is a pleasant way to get around if you would like a more personalized guided experience, and the ability to stop or create your own tour. (For groups of 4 or more, a van tour can be almost as inexpensive, or less, than a bus tour.)