Valerie Wilson Travel

Off-Season in Martha’s Vineyard

with Kathy Landers

My husband and I were able to visit Martha’s Vineyard again, March 24th through the 28th, and enjoyed reconnecting with the laidback island atmosphere! It had been five five years since our last visit, so we were interested to see what had changed and what remained of our favorite sites, restaurants, etc.

The last several times we visited Martha’s Vineyard, we stayed in Edgartown at both The Harbor View Hotel (recently extensively renovated), and The Charlotte Inn, a Relais & Chateaux property. Both are lovely and within easy walking distance of the shops, restaurants and sites of Edgartown.

This time we chose to stay in Vineyard Haven, where the Ferry comes in on a regular schedule from Woods Hole on the mainland. It’s very easy to make a reservation to bring your car, and I do suggest you do it as soon as possible as the ferries get full (especially in season)!

Our base on Martha’s Vineyard was the Nobnocket Boutique Inn, owned and operated by Annabelle and Simon Hunton. It really is a luxury B&B! Annabelle and Simon want you to treat the Inn as your own home, and the public areas are extremely comfortable, so you can curl up by the fireplace with a good book and enjoy an evening. There are options for reading throughout the inn and the individual rooms, plus, a selection of DVDs to choose from, as well as a variety of board games. Children over 16 are welcomed, but not pets.

Annabelle cooks breakfast each morning for the guests, and you are welcomed with a card noting the day’s offering. It could be anything from chocolate and banana French toast, to baked eggs with peppers and cheddar cheese, vanilla Greek yogurt with homemade granola and fresh strawberries, etc. Everything is excellent! Upon check-in you are asked your choice of coffee or tea, as well as which juice you wanted each morning. In the evening there are decanters of port, whiskey and brandy available for a late-night tipple, along with an ice bucket!

Sitting on almost two acres, the Nobnocket has lovely grounds and enough space for anyone. There are seven rooms available, and we chose the Luxury Grand room, which included its own gas fireplace (with remote) and a free-standing bathtub. All the finishes are to a very high standard and the room itself extremely comfortable.

After settling in to the Inn, we took a brief ride around Vineyard Haven and headed over to Edgartown for dinner at Rockfish where you can choose from a variety of options, whether you eat at the bar, or in the restaurant. Both locals and visitors are in abundance and it’s open year-round.

Our first full day on Martha’s Vineyard (Saturday) we enjoyed a driving tour of some of our favorite locations, including Aquinnah, with its iconic lighthouse. The views are stunning, even on an overcast day. We continued our excursion with visits to Menemsha (don’t miss the hot lobster roll), Oak Bluffs, Chilmark, West Tisbury and then back to Vineyard Haven where we wandered the main street for a bit and just enjoyed the atmosphere.

During our visit, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival was in full swing, and you could enjoy a variety of movies at several locations on the island, including at the theater in Vineyard Haven. This is an annual event and is frequented by celebrities, regular islanders and movie buffs from around the area.

Downtown Vineyard Haven has a vibrant restaurant scene, even in the off season. We enjoyed a great Asian meal at the Copper Anchor, with my husband Vin, enjoying a selection of sushi and I chose a Chinese option. Both were exceedingly generous and very good. Then back to the Inn for a DVD and rest before the next day of exploring.

On Sunday, we drove to Oak Bluffs and enjoyed looking at the stunning Victorian houses along the water. They are magnificent and anything from a two-bedroom cottage to a 8 bedroom mansion or larger are on show. We drove over the famous “Jaws” bridge between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. It is a summer ritual to jump off the bridge, even though it is posted not to jump off! The bridge’s nickname came because you see it in the movie “Jaws”, which was filmed extensively on the island in the 70’s. After watching the Chappy Ferry (which goes between Edgartown and Chappaquiddick Island) for a while, I can highly recommend the Edgartown Diner for a very good breakfast or lunch. We enjoyed lunch and just the fun old-time diner vibe!

We headed back to the Inn to relax and just enjoy the fireplace. I finished one of my books and started on one from the in-room bookcase. Dinner that evening was at the Black Dog Tavern which overlooks the Vineyard Haven Ferry Terminal, so you can enjoy watching arriving and departing visitors. This is walkable from the Inn, but it would be about a half mile uphill to get back, so we brought the car!

Our final full day on Martha’s Vineyard, was highlighted by a visit to Island Alpacas! We made arrangements for a walk with Alpacas, and they were fabulous. Mine was called Coco and Vin’s was Hot Shot. We had a great time walking the property with one of the guides and learning about these gentle creatures. We learned that they were going to be getting two llamas, as they are concerned about coyotes with the baby alpacas arriving in June, and llamas are very protective. Seeing the females and the current babies was also amazing. They have a live alpaca cam for you to check-in whenever you want. We hit the gift store and brought home some fun items.

We also drove to some of the private beaches on Martha’s Vineyard, which in-season are not open to the public. However, off-season some leave the gates open, and you can drive down some very twisty roads and come out to phenomenal, deserted beaches. Be sure to ask Simon where to go, and he can give you directions, which are very necessary!

Our final night we visited Oak Bluffs and enjoyed dinner at the Offshore Ale Company which is open year-round and has a great beer selection. The menu was fabulous and it is very popular with both locals and visitors. Parking can sometimes be tricky, but we lucked out and grabbed a spot right outside!

After another restful night, we had our final breakfast of Annabelle’s cooking and said our farewells to Simon. We will definitely be returning, as they make your stay so comfortable and are always available for dining, excursion and local site suggestions.

If you have never visited, I highly recommend taking an island tour with one of the local taxi drivers. They offer a variety of options, such as: celebrity residents (visiting John Belushi’s gravesite), historical locations, Jaws filming and background, foody experience, etc.

Martha’s Vineyard is about a four hour drive from the general New York/lower Hudson Valley area to Woods Hole, and then about a 45 minute ferry ride to the island. Be aware that July and August are peak season, and most accommodations are already sold out for those months. But, if you are willing to go during the off season, or shoulder season (May/June or September/October), most businesses and restaurants are open. The other months (November to April) are slower and less expensive, but some businesses close and you do have to double-check restaurants. I would go back in a heartbeat!

March 2023