It’s not nice to look down on people unless you are gazing from the cupola of The Mansion House in Martha’s Vineyard. When the waterfront restaurant we were referred to was closed for a private event, we had a pizza picnic with a bottle of wine on the rooftop. On the first of June it was our own private affair as the island is just waking up from its winter nap. The view is amazing of the island port where the Steamship Authority ferried us over from Woods Hole, Cape Cod along with a tractor-trailer, armored car, many more vehicles and ours. While The Mansion House advises to “leave your car in America” because of the efficiency of public transportation and limited parking, we loved zipping around the island loop on our own time clock as suggested by fifth generation Caitlyn in the breakfast room of The Mansion House.
Farm Neck Golf Club is the perfect start where Tim Sweet has worked since day one. Asked what dignitaries he has met there, he said, “Oh, presidents, kings and queens, all sorts of people.” The clubhouses and café are unpretentious with their shake cedar siding and well appointed with merchandise, great food and drinks. Groups line up at the first tee box but no one is in a hurry for there is a serenity that envelops the grounds. Tall oaks and pines line the first open fairway for an easy beginning. Hole three delivers the first water view. The accompanying ocean breeze was light until number 8 where a paddle boarder was working hard to stand still in the white capping water. We wondered if she realized that is where they filmed Jaws. Cue the music. By the time we made the green a kayaker was towing her to shore as a gaggle of logo geese looked on. An osprey dove for fish to feed its young in the nest high above the marsh. A few elevated holes, June blooms and more ocean views marked the outing on the iconic Farm Neck, a worthy check on the list of must plays.
We met Daniel Waters through his booklet “Vineyard Verses” in our room at The Mansion House and were impressed with his timing and rhyming describing the flavorful personality of the island from a local perspective. We found he is also well versed on the history of the island and committed to its preservation, now serving as the Director of Development at Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Edgartown where we tracked him down. The museum is currently featuring a special whaling history exhibit as well as the general history rooms that educate about the native people. Dan’s books may be found on www.indianhillpress.com a Wampanaug tribal outpost is operated in Aquinnah where the Gay Head Cliffs and lighthouse pose breathtaking views against the crashing Atlantic. Legend has it that Moshup, a benevolent giant, reddened the clay with whales’ blood when flinging them by the tail against the cliffs. Now that’s a whale of a tale. The shop sells wampum, gifts, seafood and homemade pies.
While the Kennedys put Martha’s Vineyard in national consciousness, visitors perpetuate the exploratory lore. It doesn’t hurt that Oprah’s yacht periodically docks with a helicopter aboard. Hiking and biking trails permeate the island. In Oak Bluffs ginger bread houses line streets reflecting the craftsmanship of the early settlers with scroll saws uniquely detailing the architecture. This is no cookie cutter neighborhood. It also boasts the oldest running carousel.
Martha’s Vineyard is featured in every travel media for good reasons. Steamship Authority ferries run frequently from morning to night for an easy day trip, overnight, weeklong, or forever with a real estate investment. Land taxes are surprisingly only 2 percent, such a deal! www.mvy.com.