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Day Trip to Martha’s Vineyard, exploring Aquinnah and Gayhead Cliffs

July 26th, 2015 by Beth Colt

As a photographer I don’t like to admit this, but I can honestly say that there are some things that just have to be seen in person. These places that defy my desire to capture in a photograph are so magnificent and breathtaking that a picture just can’t do them justice. My day trip to Martha’s Vineyard to visit the Gayhead Cliffs in Aquinnah proved to be one of these places. Last week, my sister Olivia was on the Cape with one of her best friends from school and I wanted to treat them to a day of adventure. My sister and I have made many day trips to the towns on Martha’s Vineyard but had never visited Aquinnah, so we were very excited to get off the beaten path.

We took an early afternoon ferry from Woods Hole and found a great spot up on the top deck to hang out as we crossed the Vineyard Sound aboard the Steamship Authority’s Island Home ($17 passenger ticket RT). The ferry ride itself is gorgeous and it is easy to enjoy the views of the surrounding coast line, Nobska Lighthouse, and Martha’s Vineyard.

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Once we landed in Vineyard Haven we made a quick stop at the Black Dog for lunch. The first year round restaurant on the island started in 1971, this iconic spot on the harbor in Vineyard Haven is worth the trip alone.  The fish and chips were excellent and we were now fueled up for our journey to the cliffs.

I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of use and organization of the public transportation system on the island. The VTA (Vineyard Transit Authority) has published a detailed and intuitive map with bus schedules and extensive routes that take people all over the island. For just $8.00, you can purchase a day pass to hop on and off all day long. We got on the bus in Vineyard Haven, made a switch in Chilmark and arrived in Aquinnah in about 50 minutes.  This day trip to Martha’s Vineyard is inexpensive and convenient as a guest of the Woods Hole Inn, where the Woods Hole ferry terminal is located across the street.

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The Aquinnah bus drops passengers off at the top of the Gayhead cliffs where there is a gorgeous observation deck to view the vibrant multicolored cliffs cascading into the surrounding seas. You can also see the iconic Gayhead Lighthouse which was just recently relocated. Almost $3.5 million dollars were raised to move the lighthouse from the rapidly eroding cliffs, and the elaborate job moving this antique brick structure was completed this spring saving the famous lighthouse from certain ruin within a few years.

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From the observation deck, we made our way down to the beach below where we were able to get a closer look at the clay cliffs. They were saturated with jeweled tones of rust, powdery whites, mustard yellow, and honeydew green. So amazing to have an incredible natural landmark located just a short ride day trip from Woods Hole.  No wonder the Wampanoag’s (native Americans from the Cape and Islands) consider this a sacred spot.

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Although I got some great shots of the cliffs, I know there will always be more ways to capture their natural beauty. I have already started to make plans for my next day trip to Martha’s Vineyard where I will once again challenge myself to fit the feeling of seeing them first hand into a photograph. But in all honesty, you really just have to go see them for yourself.  -Sam Frawley, guest blogger

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One thought on “Day Trip to Martha’s Vineyard, exploring Aquinnah and Gayhead Cliffs

  1. Janet Haskell

    i love these photos! I grew up in Woods Hole and on Nonamesset Is. (Summers). My Dad worked at WHOI for many years. We used to sail to the Vineyard. Ahhhhhh…such sweet memories! Thank you for posting the pictures.

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