Martha's Vineyard vs. Nantucket: What's the Diff?

By Andrea Sachs
Sunday, July 23, 2000

They share the same area code and reputation, but the tony Massachusetts islands really have two distinct personalities. Andrea Sachs uncovered the differences.

Martha's Vineyard


The 9-by-23-mile-long island is seven miles from the mainland (or "America," as islanders refer to it) and has 125 miles of shoreline -- about as big as the District and Arlington County combined. It has six towns: Vineyard Haven (or Tisbury), Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, Chilmark, West Tisbury and Gay Head, now called Aquinnah. In the summer, the population soars to 100,000. The towns have stoplights, gridlock and a smattering of fast-food restaurants. Info: Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, 508-693-0085,


Ferries leave from half a dozen Massachusetts/Cape Cod ports. In the summer, the Woods Hole boat departs every 15 minutes, takes 45 minutes and costs $5 one way. Planes leave regularly from Washington and other big-city hubs.


Rates for the more than 150 B&Bs, inns and hotels average around $125 a night, with some dipping to $80 and others climbing to more than $300. There's a wide range of accommodations, from single guest rooms to private home rentals. There is a campground for tents and RVs (508-693-3772; $32 per tent site for two, $90 per four-person cabin) and a youth hostel (508-693-2665; $18 a night).

Food/Drink Specialties

Oysters and blue-shell crabs are caught in the local ponds, and Menemsha clams pop up in the chowder and at many of the take-out stands in the fishing village. Chicama Vineyard produces the local wine, and Mad Martha's ice cream place is a sweet retreat.

Shopping Must-Haves

Visitors and residents are an eclectic bunch, from yachties to hippies, but most own at least something from the Black Dog Bakery Cafe, with its white-footed black Labrador gracing T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, even potholders.

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