Martha's Vineyard, or simply The Vineyard to the locals, is a 96 square mile island just south of Cape Cod.
The Vineyard is primarily known as a summer colony, and it is accessible only by boat and air. However, its year-round population has considerably increased since the 1960s. About 16,000 now live here permanently, but that rises to about 160,000 in the summer.
The Vineyard is a massive tourist destination with its beautiful beaches, warm summers, and delightful houses. However not many of those beaches are accessible to the general public. Much of the island is privately owned.
Originally many ex-whaling captains and Boston merchant sailors made their homes here - buying up huge tracts of land - but more recently many celebrities have followed suit; Gloria Swanson, the Kennedy clan, Lady Gaga, Meg Ryan, James Taylor, the Clintons, the Obamas, Spike Lee, Bill Murray to name but a few.
Luckily there are tough planning laws these days so these private land-owners can't exploit their land in just any way they want. No casinos - yet!
In fact its relatively small year-round population has led to a very activist citizenry who are highly involved in the island's day-to-day activities. Tourism, over-development, politics, and environmentalism are of keen interest to the community. Keeping the balance between the much needed tourist economy and the ecology and wildlife of the island is of paramount importance to residents.
To explore The Vineyard a bit further we three took a grand tour around the island. Our guide filled us in with lots of tit-bits about the six towns on the island, their people, and their community.
And here is a list of some of those tit-bits in no particular order:
Oak Bluffs is the only town with any green spaces - it has a park.
Edgartown is the most beautiful of the six towns.
The winter storms of 2015 amidst decimated the island.
Gloria Swanson's affair with Joe Kennedy was largely carried out on the island.
The lobsters here are the best in the world (!)
There are many beautiful lighthouses on the island including one called Gay Head.
John Kennedy fatally crashed his plane in the sea of The Vineyard.
Jackie Onassis's house and land is huge, hidden in the trees, and impenetrable to the paparazzi!
There is a large deaf community on the island.
The many rich residents are very generous to other local residents. They're need to be. The average house price here to twice the US average.
Jaws was filmed here.
The Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs is the oldest operating platform carousel in the USA.
Tipping your driver is customary (!)
After our tour we sat on the dock at Oak Bluffs nursing a beer and thinking over what we'd heard. A lovely island, a great place to have a summer home, but boy is it expensive!
In the evening we visited the local brewery house to sample the local ale and have a bite to eat. Tomorrow we leave, heading back to the mainland and round the Cape to Provincetown.