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Should I Bring My Car to Martha's Vineyard?

Every islander has gotten the “should I bring my car to Martha’s Vineyard?” question at least once in their life. First and foremost, you can bring a car to Martha’s Vineyard. There's no bridge connecting the island to the mainland but you can bring a vehicle over via the Steamship Authority vessels that regularly make trips between the island and the mainland. However, whether or not you actually need to bring a car with you to Martha’s Vineyard isn't a simple situation and will ultimately depend on what you’re doing while on the island. So, should you bring your car to Martha’s Vineyard? Let’s run down some of the pros and cons of coming to the island with and without a vehicle.


The Pros of Bringing Your Car to Martha’s Vineyard

  • Easily See the Entire Island. Without a doubt the biggest benefit of bringing your car to Martha’s Vineyard is that you can easily see the entire island, even on a relatively short visit. Martha’s Vineyard has notable landmarks in every major town and although the island is small overall, you’ll still be driving about 40 minutes from Oak Bluffs to the iconic Gay Head cliffs. No matter how in shape you are, that's not a reasonable walk or bike ride kind of distance!

  • Your Trip on Your Schedule. Planning your vacation can be stressful, and waiting around for public transportation or missing a bus that makes you late for an activity or get together isn’t a fun time. With a car on Martha’s Vineyard you can take your schedule into your own hands in a way you can’t without one. Not feeling the beach you’re at in Edgartown? No problem, just hop in your car and cruise down beach road to Oak Bluffs to see if that town fits your style better.


The Cons of Bringing Your Car to Martha’s Vineyard

  • Tight and Costly Boat Reservations. If you’re planning a trip to Martha’s Vineyard for July 4th and its June 30th when you’re trying to make a boat reservation… Well, let’s just say that's not going to happen. Bringing a car to Martha’s Vineyard, especially in the summer, requires planning well in advance to secure a round trip boat reservation. A round trip ticket to take your vehicle over can cost around $200 so it's nothing to scoff at either.

  • Roads Unlike Any Other. Have you spent a lot of time driving on highways or in the suburbs? Well you’re in for a very different driving experience on Martha’s Vineyard. There’s no two lane highways, zero traffic lights, and stretches of road where a 40 MPH speed limit suddenly drops to 25 MPH. This isn’t to say driving on Martha’s Vineyard is inherently dangerous, but you’ll need to be on your driving A-game if this is your first visit.

  • Parking in the Summer. Every popular vacation or downtown spot has parking difficulties, but finding parking in the main downtown stretches on Martha’s Vineyard in the summer can sometimes be a major challenge. There’s no parking garages to be found, and even if you do find parking if you stay over the time limit at all you will definitely get a ticket. Repeat visitors will be more comfortable with parking on the surrounding backroads but first time visitors could end up annoyed and late for a dinner reservation as they round Circuit Ave for a 5th time waiting for a good spot!


The Pros of Going to Martha’s Vineyard Without a Car

  • Come and Go as you Please. Like we’ve already covered, bringing a car to Martha’s Vineyard requires a boat reservation in advance. But if you leave your car behind you can buy a ticket for any steamship time slot on the spot and walk on with no prior reservation! This added convenience is huge for people who’s traveling plans came together quickly, or ended up deciding they’d like to stay a little longer in the summertime.

  • A More Intimate View of the Island. Driving your car around the island will show you some epic sights, but it's nothing compared to the things you can only experience while walking or biking to and from key destinations on the island. All too often cars can zip right by excellent scenic overlooks or hidden trails. A vacation to Martha’s Vineyard is all about taking it easy, and each town on our small island has all of your essentials. So if you’re looking for a lower key and more intimate view of the place you're staying on Martha’s Vineyard then you can leave your car behind. 

  • Public Transportation can Supplement Longer Trips. While Martha’s Vineyard is known for its quaint and quiet island vibes, it isn’t some area that technology and all modern convenience has left behind! If you’re staying in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, or Vineyard Haven and want to check out the sites Up-Island then taxis, ubers, or the Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) network of buses can help you make the journey without you needing to haul your car over to the island.


The Cons of Going to Martha’s Vineyard Without a Car

  • Impossible to See the Full Island without a Car or Car Service. In spite of the benefits we’ve listed that come with visiting the island without a car, it's a fact that you’re not going to be able to easily see the whole island on foot or by bike. If you’re a first time visitor interested in seeing everything the island has to offer, then coming here without a car, or at least regularly using a car service, will leave you a bit more limited in terms of what you can do and where you can go outside of your immediate location on the island.

  • Rainy Days are Going to be Rough. Rain on any vacation isn’t a great time, but that negativity will get amplified ten-fold if it happens while you don’t have a car with you. Restaurants get extra packed on rainy days and waiting for a cab or by an unfamiliar bus stop in the rain to get around on vacation is going to be a bad time all around.

Those are our key pros and cons of coming to Martha’s Vineyard with or without a car. We hope these insights help you decide how to best enjoy your trip to the island! If you’re looking for a place to stay on your upcoming trip, then make sure to check out our array of rental properties today.

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