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The best things to do on Martha’s Vineyard this summer, according to Boston.com readers

"Get the sand under your feet and the ocean in front of you, and the rest will figure itself out with absolutely no effort required."

EDGARTOWN, MA - 06/28/2019 Sean Winthrop, of Hopkington, MA, jumps off of Jaws Bridge in Martha's Vineyard. Winthrop was visiting the island with friends for the weekend. Erin Clark for The Boston Globe

Martha’s Vineyard holds a special place in many New Englanders’ hearts, but for author Sunny Hostin, the island holds historical importance that goes back for centuries.

Hostin, the co-host of “The View,” became a New York Times bestselling author for her latest book and the Boston.com Book Club‘s current read “Summer on the Bluffs.” Her book showcases the important history of Oak Bluffs as a haven for Black elite on Martha’s Vineyard, where the characters’ life-changing summer takes place. 

To understand what it is about Martha’s Vineyard that is cherished by so many, we asked Boston.com readers why they enjoy traveling to the New England destination in the summer months.

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“Getting on the ferry and leaving life behind! The feel of history combined with the peaceful nature of the island adds up to a special getaway,” one reader wrote. 

Ahead we feature our top reader recommendations for food, drinks, things to do, and upcoming events to enjoy this summer on the island.

Beaches to visit

“Get the sand under your feet and the ocean in front of you, and the rest will figure itself out with absolutely no effort required,” one reader wrote.

Bring your blankets and chairs to the Menemsha or Aquinnah public beaches for tranquil sunsets and beautiful views. One reader recommended having a meal at The Aquinnah Shop porch that overlooks the water and the Gay Head Cliffs. The family-owned restaurant is coined “the island’s best-kept secret.”

What to eat and drink

Readers try to eat all of the lobster they can while they’re on Martha’s Vineyard, from bisques to rolls. As Menemsha is known to be a quaint fishing village, it’s no surprise that people are finding the best buttery and delicious lobster at the Menemsha Fish Market. If you can’t make it to the market for seafood this summer, don’t worry, the family-owned and operated business will ship live seafood, soups, smoked fish, souvenirs, and more to any U.S. location.

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Larsen’s Fish Market also came highly recommended from a Boston.com reader. The market was founded in 1969 by an offshore fisherman to help support the local fishing community by offering fair prices to both the fishermen and the customers. 

For anyone with a sweet tooth, look no further than Back Door Donuts in Oak Bluffs. If you’re craving dessert to tie over dinner, Back Door Donuts is open until midnight during the week and 1 a.m. on the weekends. 

Looking for a caffeine fix for your morning walk? Head to Mocha Mott’s in Oak Bluffs or its second location in Vineyard Haven for organic, fair trade coffee and espresso drinks, homemade baked goods, and Cape Cod bagels. One reader recommended stopping by Ocean Park to sip your coffee and people-watch.

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Lastly, if you’re looking for a drink and some great laughs, head to the Barn Bowl & Bistro comedy lounge in Oak Bluffs. “Great club feel, hysterical comics and not the same old names and faces you get across the pond. Yummy food including Bang Bang Cauliflower!” one reader wrote.

Things to do

Biplane rides from Classic Aviators on the Katama Airfield in Edgartown will give you the ultimate overview of the island. Or another reader recommended seeing the Vineyard by bus, many tours are available as well as regular bus schedules from the Vineyard Transit Authority.

“It’s quaint, each town has a unique feel, people are happy and friendly,” one reader wrote. “Should be on everyone’s bucket list if they love the ocean and a small island experience.”

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Surfcasting, or fishing shore to shore, is another popular pastime on Martha’s Vineyard. One reader recommended Wasque Point on Chappaquiddick Island for finding the best catches.

Jumping off the “Jaws” Bridge in Edgartown and sailing along the island’s coastline also came highly recommended. For families, check out Pirate Adventures and let your kids find the missing treasure while you enjoy a beautiful cruise of the island on a custom-built pirate ship.

Upcoming Events

  • Legacy Week on the Vineyard was created to engage, empower, and highlight the bond and value of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Saturday, July 24 to Saturday, July 31; 11 Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs; Ticket prices vary; eventnoire.com.
  • Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival will feature 21 of the country’s leading authors, including our next Book Club moderator Deesha Philyaw on her debut short story collection, “The Secret Lives of the Church Ladies.” Thursday, Aug. 5 to Sunday, Aug. 8; 151 Lagoon Pond Rd., Tisbury; Ticket prices start at $125, live-streamed events are free; eventbrite.com.
  • Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society Livestock Show & Fair: Islanders of all ages gather to meet, drink, and eat while celebrating the Agricultural Society’s vision of uniting island farmers in the development and improvement of local agricultural resources. Thursday, Aug. 19 to Sunday, Aug. 22; 35 Panhandle Rd., West Tisbury; Ticket prices vary; gomarthasvineyard.com

Join our virtual Book Club discussion

Join the Boston.com Book Club Wednesday, July 28 at 6 p.m. for a virtual discussion with Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival featured author Deesha Philyaw featured guest Sunny Hostin on her novel, “Summer on the Bluffs.”

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Register to join Hostin and Philyaw on Wednesday, July 28 at 6 p.m.

Buy “Summer on the Bluffs” from: Bookshop | Bunch of Grapes

Learn more about the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival here.

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