Martha's vineyard by bicycle or moped
The down-island towns of Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown are fairly compact, and if your inn is located in the heart of one of these small towns, you will be within walking distance of shopping, beaches, and attractions in town. To explore the up-island towns, you will need to bike; it's possible to tour the entire island 60-some odd miles in 1 day. Shuttle buses can whisk you to the other down-island towns and beaches in 5 to 15 minutes.
You shouldn't leave without exploring the Vineyard on two wheels, even if only for a couple of hours. In Edgartown, you can rent a bike at R. W. Cutler Bike - Martha's Vineyard bike rentals, 1 Main St. (tel. 508/627-4052)There's a little of everything for cyclists, from paved paths to hilly country roads, and you don't have to be an expert rider to enjoy yourself. Plus, biking is a relatively hassle-free way to get around the island.
Mopeds are also a way to navigate Vineyard roads, but the number of accidents involving mopeds seems to rise every year, and many islanders are opposed to these vehicles. If you are planning on renting a moped, be aware they are considered quite dangerous on the island's busy, narrow, winding and sandy roads.
Martha's Vineyard by car
If you're coming to the Vineyard for a few days and you're going to stick to the down-island towns, it's best to leave your car at home, since traffic and parking on the island can be brutal in summer. Also, it's easy to take the shuttle buses from town to town, or you can simply bike your way around. If you're staying for a longer period of time or you want to do some exploring up-island, you should bring your car or rent one on the island -- my favorite way to tour the Vineyard is by jeep. Keep in mind that car-rental rates can soar during peak season, and gas is much more expensive on the island. Off-road driving on the beaches is a major topic of debate on the Vineyard, and the most popular spots may be closed for nesting Piping Plovers at the height of the season. If you plan to do some off-road exploration, check with the chamber of commerce to see if the trails are open to vehicles before you rent. To drive off-road at Cape Pogue or Cape Wasque on Chappaquiddick, you'll need to purchase a permit from the Trustees of Reservations (tel. 508/627-7260); the cost is $190 for the car and $3 per person. Keep in mind, if you drive a rental car off-road without permission from the rental company, you could be subjected to a $500 fine.
The Chappaquiddick Ferry
The On-Time ferry (tel. 508/627-9427) runs the 5-minute trip from Memorial Wharf on Dock Street in Edgartown to Chappaquiddick Island from June to mid-October daily, every 5 minutes from 7am to midnight. Passengers, bikes, mopeds, dogs, and cars (3 at a time) are all welcome. A round trip is $3 per person, $10 for one car/one driver, $6 for one bike/one person.
Martha's Vineyard shuttle bus
In season, shuttle buses run often enough to make them a practical means of getting around. They are also cheap, dependable, and easy. The Martha's Vineyard Regional Transit Authority (tel. 508/693-9440; www.vineyardtransit.com) operates shuttle buses year-round on about a dozen routes around the island. The buses, which are white with purple logos, cost about $2 to $5 depending on distance. The Edgartown Downtown Shuttle and the South Beach buses circle throughout town or out to South Beach every 20 minutes in season. They also stop at the free parking lots just north of the town center -- this is a great way to avoid circling the streets in search of a vacant spot on busy weekends. The main down-island stops are Vineyard Haven (near the ferry terminal), Oak Bluffs (near the Civil War statue in Ocean Park), and Edgartown (Church St., near the Old Whaling Church).
For bus tours of the island, call Island Transport (tel. 508/693-0058) or hop on one of the Island Transport buses that are stationed at the ferry terminals in Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs in the summer.
Content Provided by Frommer's Unlimited. Excerpted from Frommer's Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard ©2009