Chappaquiddick

#4 in Best Things To Do in Martha's Vineyard
Chappaquiddick picture
D Allen/Flickr

Key Info

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Parks and Gardens, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.0scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 3.0Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

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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More Best Things To Do in Martha's Vineyard

Martha's Vineyard Beaches
Aquinnah Cliffs
Type
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1 of 6
#1 Martha's Vineyard 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 on the south side, the Vineyard's various shorelines offer a little something for everyone.

But of all the places to stake a spot in the sand, recent visitors said South Beach (also known as Katama Beach) is one of the best. Situated in Edgartown, South Beach stretches for 3 miles and offers a rumbling surf and rolling dunes. You'll find ample parking here, but most travelers were happy to bike from Edgartown on a path that leads straight to the sand.

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Courtesy of Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce
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