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Martha’s Vineyard on a Budget!

Author: Evelyn Dixon
Date of Trip: June 2012

Okay, so I wanted to check something off of my bucket list this year! Martha’s Vineyard (MV), here I come! While I had always heard how MV was so expensive (and it can be), I was determined to do it on a budget! So, I started my search.

First, I checked on for available seats to use my frequent flyer miles. Perfect, there were seats available around my birthday, June 6th! Next, a Google search for “budget hotels on Martha’s Vineyard ” resulted in several hotel listings popping up. Many were still out of my price range, but I kept searching. Then I landed on Nashua House Hotel in Oak Bluffs and said “OMG”, I can’t believe this, rates starting at $69 per night! Humm, I thought to myself, okay there must be a catch, the place must be a roach infested dump! Well, after reading several favorable Trip Advisor reviews, I was feeling more at ease and decided this would be home for me during my 7-day MV adventure.

So, I booked my 2 ½ hour Delta flight into Logan Int’l Airport in Boston. I booked the smallest room at Nashua House which accommodates 1 perfectly. Now, with full disclosure on their website, they said it would be snug and it was, but it was perfect for the solo traveler. Then after researching transportation options, I booked a seat on the Peter Pan Bus for the 2 hour ride from the airport to the Port Authority in Woods Hole. Then I booked my 45 minute ferry ride to MV! If you are planning to take your car to MV, it’s highly advisable to reserve car space on the ferry, especially during the summer months because space fills up fast.

Finally, I arrived at Oak Bluffs (OB as the locals call it) on MV, bright-eyed and eager to get my vacation started! Given that the Nashua House was so close to where the ferry docked, I decided to walk from the dock to Nashua House. It was less than a 10 minute walk, with luggage and all!

I arrived at Nashua House and was impressed from the very beginning. The pictures that I saw on their website described the property accurately. My room, (#5) was tiny, but it was enough room for me. The front desk staff graciously helped me get my luggage to my room. After a brief ½ hour or so to settle in, I was out on the street. Walking down the main drag in OB, I was taking it all in. I wandered over to check out the beautifully gingerbread house that I read about when doing my MV research.

Heavy rains during the time that I was there caused the cancellation of many things that I had planned to do like kayaking and deep sea fishing. My motto though is, “when given a lemon, find a way to make lemon aide”! So during times that the weather cleared up for an hour or so, I would venture out. One day I found my way to the bay side of OB. There, I found several casual restaurants and places to have drinks. I stopped at the downstairs bar of Nancy’s. Now that’s where I learned what oysters are really supposed to taste like! OMG, I had never tasted the sea water in the oysters that I eat back home! They were fresh and extremely tasty! I even got hooked on Oyster Shooters, thanks to Joe the bartender!

Coop De Ville had the cheapest lobsters in town! You could get a 1 pound whole steamed Maine lobster with corn and potatoes for under $20 bucks! Needless to say, that place stayed packed! The Lookout Tavern on the other side of the bay had great lobster bisque and a great ocean view! Not being a beer drinker, I hesitated to go to the Offshore Ale Co., but it was right across from Nashua House and came highly recommended by one of the locals that I met. I am sooo glad I gave it a try!! The waiter recommended the flounder in a sauce of white wine and capers! OMG, it was simply fabulous! They actually have a functioning brewery right there and you can see them brewing beer as you have dinner. So if you are a beer drinking, (and even if you are not as I found out), you would live this pace!

Finally, one day the weather eased up some and I was able to take the MV Island tour to visit the other towns on the island. Oak Bluffs is the biggest town on MV, known for beautiful Gingerbread houses that line the streets and seaside. The other towns include Edgartown, where the “rich and famous” like to play, then there’s Aquinnah (a/k/a Gay Head). This is in the western part of the island where beautiful cliffs and lighthouses are. Then there are the beautiful rolling hills of Chilmark where the little fishing village of Menemsha is located. Some of the island’s best seafood can be had in the little “hole in the wall” diners there. West Tisbury is where you really sense the charm of a small “New England” town. The town of Tisbury, known by the locals as Vineyard Havens is the site of the islands first school house dating back to 1829. Vineyard Havens is also home to the historic West Chop Lighthouse. It’s also the only other point of entry for the ferry to dock.

When visiting, you really don’t need a car because the island’s public transportation system is very easy to navigate and you can see the entire island by public bus. I did that one day and got around just fine. You must take a day to just chill out on one of the many beaches on the island! Even though during my stay, there wasn’t a whole lot of sunshine, I was able to sit on the beach on OB for a few hours and enjoyed the scenery!

Even with the bad weather, I enjoyed Martha’s Vineyard and plan to return one day to do those things I did not get to do on this trip. I would recommend MV as a destination to check off anyone’s bucket list! I would also stay at Nashua House Hotel in OB again! Very nice, clean and comfortable! I proved that I could do MV on a budget!

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