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Aquinnah Cliffs picture in Martha's Vineyard
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

Key Info

  • 9 Aquinnah Circle
    Aquinnah, MA 02535

Details

  • Natural Wonders, Sightseeing Type
  • 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.5
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    5.0
  • Facilities
    3.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.0

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

The Aquinnah Cliffs  formerly known as Gay Head  is one of Martha's Vineyard's most-visited tourist spots, with bus and bike tours congesting the paved roads in the peak summer season. But the epic clay cliffs  carved by glaciers millions of years ago  are worth the trek. Visitors can explore the lower beach paths to see the cliffs up close and stretch along the sands at Moshup Beach. Or take the upper trails to the top of the cliffs to catch a glimpse of Gay Head Light and nearby Elizabeth Islands.

Watch your step, however; the Aquinnah Cliffs are part of the island's Wampanoag reservation and under special environmental protections to deter erosion. Keep your eyes peeled for signs detailing off-limit areas. And don't even think about grabbing a hunk of the red clay as a souvenir. 

You'll find the Aquinnah Cliffs off of State Road on the southwestern tip of the island, to the west of Gay Head Light. There's parking available (for $15 in the summer), but most visit Aquinnah by bike or bus. Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority's Route No. 5 takes visitors into Aquinnah, but fares vary by distance traveled ($1 per town, including town of origin). Check the VTA's website for more information on rates and schedules. 

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#1 Beaches You'll have your pick of beaches on Martha's Vineyard. From the protected, shallow surf on the northern and eastern coasts of the island to the big waves crashing ... Read more » Courtesy of Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce

#2 Aquinnah Cliffs The Aquinnah Cliffs  formerly known as Gay Head  is one of Martha's Vineyard's most-visited tourist spots, with bus and bike tours congesting the paved roads in the peak ... Read more » DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

#3 Oak Bluff Campground These extravagantly decorated summer cottages offer a quaint peek into the island's past. The grounds were originally occupied by 19th-century Methodists, who would retreat here in the summer to ... Read more » Kenneth Wiedemann / Getty Images

#4 Chappaquiddick Chappaquiddick became infamous for all the wrong reasons. In July 1969, Senator Ted Kennedy was driving a young woman named Mary Jo Kopechne home from a party in Chappaquiddick when ... Read more » D Allen / Flickr

#5 Edgartown Lighthouse For its relatively small size (100 square miles), Martha's Vineyard has its fair share of lighthouses. But of the five dotting the northern side of the island, visitors and ... Read more » William Britten / Getty Images

#6 Island Alpaca Company of Martha's Vineyard One of the more unique attractions on Martha's Vineyard, Island Alpaca is a hit with recent visitors for its friendly animals and well-stocked gift shop. Spread across 19 acres ... Read more » mgstanton / Flickr

#7 Flying Horses Carousel, Oak Bluffs Built in 1876, the Flying Horses Carousel is the oldest operating platform carousel in the country. The hand-painted horses, housed in a big red barn, have been carefully preserved; most ... Read more » MV Preservation Society

Beaches picture in Martha's Vineyard
Aquinnah Cliffs picture in Martha's Vineyard
Oak Bluff Campground picture in Martha's Vineyard
Chappaquiddick  picture in Martha's Vineyard
Edgartown Lighthouse picture in Martha's Vineyard
Island Alpaca picture in Martha's Vineyard
Flying Horses Carousel picture in Martha's Vineyard
Beaches picture in Martha's Vineyard
Aquinnah Cliffs picture in Martha's Vineyard
Oak Bluff Campground picture in Martha's Vineyard
Chappaquiddick  picture in Martha's Vineyard
Edgartown Lighthouse picture in Martha's Vineyard
Island Alpaca picture in Martha's Vineyard
Flying Horses Carousel picture in Martha's Vineyard

From the protected, shallow surf on the northern and eastern coasts of the island to the big waves crashing on the south side, the Vineyard's various shorelines offer a little something for everyone. Courtesy of Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce

The Aquinnah Cliffs, a National Historic Landmark, are made up of green sands, white quartz, black organic soil and other colorful clays.  DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

These colorful cottages were modeled after the elaborate tents, crafted by 19th-century campers. Kenneth Wiedemann / Getty Images

Recent visitors highly recommended taking a day, or at least a few hours, to explore the island of Chappaquiddick, located just a five-minute ferry ride from Edgartown. D Allen / Flickr

Originally constructed for Crane Beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts, this 1800s-era lighthouse was relocated to the Vineyard in 1938. William Britten / Getty Images

Spread across 19 acres, Island Alpaca features a herd of 72 Huacaya alpacas and one llama. mgstanton / Flickr

The Flying Horses Carousel originally entertained children and families in New York's Coney Island before being transplanted to Oak Bluffs in 1884. MV Preservation Society

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