Anyone considering a visit to Martha's Vineyard needs to first acknowledge the realities of travel to this well-discovered island. First, costs are high; this will not be news to anyone. Second, numbers are high; the throngs of tourists walking around Edgartown in high season, the traffic jams at the island's major intersections, and the ridiculous and inefficient process of getting auto ferry tickets, are testimony to that. Is the Vineyard overrated and overdeveloped? Perhaps. But if you are still committed to visiting MV, and are looking for natural beauty and peace and quiet [most tourists think they are, but are not], then read on.
Chappaquiddick is an island within an island. It can only be reached by the "On Time" ferry, and it is a big place. The island has only one store, and the rest is almost entirely woods, fields, and marshes- scattered houses, many with incredible views, others hidden away in the woods. At the east and south ends of the islands are wonderful beaches. Be warned that they are polluted by the dozens of SUVs who pay very high prices to park on the beach. Money talks in the Vineyard. But if you're willing to walk you can get far, far away from them.
I rented a tiny house near Wasque. The mosquitoes were fierce, particularly in the evening, but the silence was overwhelming, the wind and the forest were beautiful, and I was reminded that there really was something to this obsession with Martha's Vineyard. I just couldn't see how the tourists sitting in traffic jams were experiencing it. But that was their problem. In the evenings I walked to the Wasque reservation or strolled along the roads.
The Vineyard is an intensely private place, and it has become more so because of the high visitor numbers. Islanders or long-time summer residents keep to themselves, and you might resent the endless driveways leading to beaches that you can't access (for the shoreline of Chappy is mostly private). But for all that, people are moderately friendly and you can always head into town to socialize.
Two Chappy bonuses (really three): the island is covered with a series of trails (the X-Chappy trail) that allow you to walk end to end. I did it, and *never* saw another person on the trail. The trail lets you see lots of landscapes (including other beaches) that you can't access from the car. It is also very easy to drive to the Chappy ferry, park for free, and head into Edgartown, or catch the MV bus on the other side to explore the rest of the island. In other words, the Vineyard is still more or less at your disposal, but the Chappy ferry is mostly keeping the tourist hordes OUT. That's the third bonus, of course.
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