Martha's Vineyard vs. Nantucket: What's the Diff?
They share the same area code and reputation, but the tony Massachusetts islands really have two distinct personalities. Andrea Sachs uncovered the differences.
LOCATION/ LAY OF THE LAND
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, www.mvy.com.
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).
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.
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.