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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 the vehicle went off the side of the Dike Bridge. Kopechne was killed, but Kennedy survived.
But there's so much more to this island than a politically tinged tragedy. Chappaquiddick is full of rugged beaches with unruly surf, 14 miles of over-sand vehicle and walking trails, as well as a 14-acre Japanese garden, Mytoi. The petite island's main draw is the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, the nesting area for a variety of New England shorebirds. Here you can take a naturalist-led, over-sand jeep tour provided by the Trustees of the Reservation. The reservation also offers Cape Poge Lighthouse, kayak and seaside exploration tours on a daily basis from Memorial Day through Columbus Day (mid-October).
Recent visitors highly recommended taking a day, or at least a few hours, to explore the island. Whether you're on a bike or on foot, you'll find that "Chappy" (as it's referred to by locals) is a peaceful retreat from the crowds in Oak Bluffs, according to recent travelers. But this quiet seclusion comes with a notable downside: there are no stores or restaurants on the island, so you'll have to pack everything you need for the day before you step on the ferry.
The small island of Chappaquiddick is located about five minutes off the coast of Edgartown and is reachable via the Chappy Ferry. The ferry runs between Memorial Wharf in Edgartown and Chappaquiddick Point, which is a straight-line distance of just 527 feet. Round-trip fares for pedestrians cost $4; bikers pay $6 and passengers with vehicles owe $12. The schedule fluctuates depending on the season; check the Chappy Ferry's website for updated schedule times. The Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge is open year-round, 24 hours a day. From May 30 to Oct. 15, admission to the refuge costs $5 for adults. Entrance is always free for children 15 and younger, and for all visitors from May 29 to Oct. 14.
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